How to Lay Turf: An Expert, Step-by-Step Guide

by Daniel Hunter

In this guide, I’m going to show you how to lay turf to create the best lawn in your neighbourhood.

And guess what?

Laying turf is a lot easier to do than you might think. And once you get in a rhythm, it goes down pretty quick.

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Important Note:

When you order your turf, make sure, if you can, you choose a morning delivery.

You need to lay turf as soon as it’s delivered. If you have a large order, getting a delivery in the late afternoon is useless as you’ll not have time to lay it.

As a result, it’ll be sat there overnight, degrading.

Having it delivered early means you’ve got the full day to lay it.

When to Lay Turf For Quick Establishment


If you haven’t already, read my guide on choosing the best time to lay turf.

But here’s a quick summary.

You can lay turf at any time during the year. There are no hard and fast rules.

Most people say autumn is the best time because there should be plenty of rain, sun and warmth. And most consider summer as the worst time of the year as it’s too hot and dry.

But think about it, our climate is all over the place. Our seasons aren’t the same every year.

Rainy summers, which we get plenty of, provide perfect conditions. The rain, combined with warmth and sunlight provide ideal conditions. On the flip side, we often get heatwaves during the autumn. These conditions are far from perfect for laying turf.

In short, you can lay turf any time. As long as you make sure the weather is on your side with plenty of rain in the weeks following.

If rainfall is lacking, you’ll need to get the sprinkler out – even in the winter!

Preparing the Ground


If you haven’t already prepared the ground, read my in-depth guide on how to prepare the ground for turf.

For most people, there are 8 steps. If you’re a perfectionist and want a completely flat, formal lawn, there a 10 steps.

  1. Kill all existing grass, plants and weeds
  2. Remove the old lawn
  3. Dig or rotovate the soil
  4. Improve the soil structure and fertility
  5. Level the area
  6. Firm the ground
  7. Leave the area to settle (if you want perfection)
  8. Re-level the area (if you want perfection)
  9. Apply pre-turfing fertiliser
  10. Rake to a fine tilth

With the ground prepared, calculate how much turf you need and order the best turf you can afford.

Laying Turf, Step-by-Step


If you’ve prepared the ground well and the area is flat and even, laying turf is much easier than you might think.

It’s also super fun and you’ll start to see the results of all your effort.

Here’s a quick, but good video from Rolawn which explains how to lay a lawn with turf;

Important Note:

Whatever you do, NEVER, ever, ever walk, stand or kneel on freshly laid turf.

Sometimes you’ll need to walk or kneel on it to work, but ALWAYS lay wooden boards to walk or kneel on.

The last thing you want is potholes in your new lawn.

Wooden boards distribute your weight across the whole area of the board. That way you won’t get horrible indentations.

Laying Your First Roll of Turf

Start by laying your first piece of turf along the longest edge of your lawn. To create a straight edge, use a plank of wood and butt the edge of the turf up to it.

For circular lawns, lay the first roll right in the middle and work your way out towards the edges.

To ensure a good contact between the turf and soil I do 2 things;

  1. Spray the back of each turf with a bit of water to dampen it
  2. Tamp the turf down with the head of a rake or a length of wood

Installing the Next Turves

When you’re laying the next turves, make sure you butt the edges up against each other. Push the joints together, trying not to stretch the turf as you go.

Once you’ve got the joints butted against each other, ‘knead’ them together to bond them. You want to try and avoid having any gaps.

Keep spraying and tamping the turf to ensure good soil contact.

Laying the Next Rows

Now it’s time to lay the next row of turf.

It’s best practice to lay turf like you would bricks, in a staggered fashion.

Again, make sure you butt all the edges up against each other and knead them together. This creates a better bond between the turf and prevents it from drying out.

If your turves aren’t all exactly the same shape and size, you might get the odd small gap. Don’t worry, this happens. Fill them with a bit of good quality topsoil.

The grass will grow into the gaps as the lawn establishes.

Shaping the Edges of Your Lawn

If you have a lawn design that needs shaping around paths, patios and borders, you’ll need to cut the turf.

Lay the turf right over the edge and use a panel saw to cut it to shape.

Easy-peasy!

Protecting the Edges of Your New Lawn

Once you have laid your turf, you’ll need to protect any exposed edges of your new lawn from drying out.

You’ll find them against open borders and flower beds.

So pack some soil against the edges.

Water the Lawn

As soon as you’ve laid your lawn, water it.

Deeply.

You want to to get the water down to the roots which will now be and inch or two below the surface.

Your new lawn will need at least one good soaking a day. If it’s dry or hot, it’ll need two, even three for the first week.

Then at least once a day the next couple of weeks after.

That’s it, Told You it Was Easy!


Sure, it sounds easy when reading on a computer but is it as easy as I’ve made out?

Yes, it is, provided you’ve done a good job of preparing the ground. I’ve said this many times, the quality of the final result will depend on the quality of the prep.

If you make a pig’s ear of the preparation, your new lawn won’t ever be a nice as you want it to be. All your neighbours will ogle the nice lawn down the road instead of yours and you’ll want to dig it up and start again.

If it all sounds too complicated or you’re not comfortable, get a gardener to do it for you.

And once you’ve laid it, you MUST look after your new turf properly.

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