Looks good dunnit?!
It’ll all be for nothing if you don’t now take proper care for it.
So now I’m going to show you how to look after new turf.
There are 5 things you need to do;
- Water it, every day
- Keep off the grass as much as you can
- Mow little and often
- Top up nutrients by feeding
- Keep your lawn free of leaves and debris
Watering New Turf
I cannot stress how important this is to water your new lawn.
You’ve spent all this time, money and effort to get to this point, don’t f!*k it up now by not watering.
Why it’s Important to Water New Turf
Did you know that grass is is 80% water?
Its function is to carry nutrients to the cells of the plant. Without water, grass can’t photosynthesise sunlight. As a result, it can’t produce food, develop strong roots and grow.
Think about this, before you ordered your turf, it was happy growing in a field somewhere.
It had developed a strong root system which had grown up to a metre deep into the soil. Its leaves were little solar factories. Each one working hard, trapping and photosynthesising sunlight and turning it into food.
Then you went and ordered your turf.
With that, along came the turf harvester and WHACK!
It slices the grass off the surface of the earth, leaving 85% – 90% of its roots in the ground. It’s then rolled inwards on itself and stacked on a pallet. So not only does it not have its roots, the leaves are now starved of the sunlight they depend on for survival.
And we’re not done there.
Your turf is now stacked on the side of a truck where it starts to dry out so the grass becomes dehydrated.
All because you wanted a new lawn!
Feel bad? You should!
Anyway, that’s why it’s so important to water new turf. What’s left of its roots need to absorb water and get it back into the leaf. Then it can re-start photosynthesis and repair itself from the damage inflicted on it.
How Often to Water New Turf
Once you’ve laid your turf, you need to turn the sprinklers on.
Your lawn will need a good soaking at least once a day for the first two weeks. Or, until the roots have grown into the soil you’ve laid it on.
You can tell when the roots have established because you won’t be able to lift the turf up at the corners.
So how often you water your turf depends on when you laid it and what the weather is doing. If you’ve timed it to perfection and its rainy and cloudy then you might not need to water it at all.
But as we know, the UK’s weather is a sh!t and it never does what we want it to. Despite what the forecast says.
If it rains all day then fine, don’t worry about the sprinklers. But if it’s hot and dry or windy, you’ll need to water in the morning and the evening. If its super hot and dry, water in the afternoon too.
After a couple of weeks, you’ll find that your lawn doesn’t need as much water. Reduce the frequency and the amount to once every other day for half an hour.
How Long to Water New Turf
The idea is to get the water deep enough into the soil where the roots can consume it.
So give the area a good soaking for an hour or so. Leave it for half an hour while the water soaks into the ground. Then check by lifting up a corner of a turf.
If the soil under the turf is still dry, water the area again. It needs to be good and wet.
Walking On New Turf
Up to this point, the grass on your lawn has suffered a LOT of trauma on it’s journey from the field to your garden.
What it needs now is a bit of peace and quiet so it can settle in and recover.
In the first few weeks, the grass will prioritise root development over leaf growth. It needs to replace and regrow the roots it lost when it was harvested.
Use the lawn to soon and you’ll damage the leaves of the grass. The roots won’t be strong enough to support their recovery so you’ll end up with a new lawn that looks knackered.
So as tempting as it is to get naked and roll around on it (or is that just me?), don’t.
If you must walk on it, lay wooden boards and walk on those to distribute your weight across them.
So When Can You Walk On New Turf?
Keep off the grass until the roots are well established.
That means waiting until the turf has;
- Knitted to the ground and you can no longer lift the corners
- Each turf has knitted together
This could be 4 weeks after laying the turf, it could be six. It all depends on the growing conditions etc.
Even at this point, you should only walk on it to cut the grass.
And that brings me on to my next point…
When to Cut New Turf
You shouldn’t even think about cutting the grass until the turf has rooted properly.
If you mow too soon, the mower is likely to rip the turf from the ground make an almighty mess.
So check the lawn by grabbing a handful of grass and pulling it.
If the turf stays put and you’re left with a handful of grass, you’re good to go.
Rules For Cutting New Turf
When it comes to mowing a new lawn you need to;
- Make sure your mower blade is sharp – Blunt blades rip and pull at the grass which wounds it. Leaving it open to disease while it’s still delicate.
- Keep the mower on a high setting – For the first cut, you only want to take the top off the grass. Don’t remove any more than a quarter of the length. So if the grass is 8cm high, mow it down to 6cm.
- Bring the mowing height down, GRADUALLY – You don’t want to cut the grass too short too soon. For the first month of mowing, keep the mower set high. Then bring the height down by one setting each week. Of course, this depends on when you laid the turf. If you laid your turf during the winter, you might not even need to mow at all until spring.
- Keep the grass box on your mower – Don’t leave the clippings on the lawn at this stage.
Feeding New Turf
If you followed my advice on preparing the soil for turf, you should have applied a pre-turf fertiliser. So the grass should have all the nutrients it needs for a good 6-8 weeks.
If you didn’t, give it 7-10 days and apply some pre-turf fertiliser to the lawn surface and water it in.
After 6-8 weeks give it another dose, no matter what season it is.
The high phosphorous content helps promote and establish a healthy root system.
This will keep your lawn topped up with the right nutrients for the first 4 months.
If you apply a fertiliser with too much nitrogen (like a spring/summer feed) the leaf will grow too fast. On the surface, this looks good but the roots won’t be able to support that growth.
Once the lawn is a good 4 months old, you can feed your lawn with the correct lawn feed for the season.
Keep Your Lawn Free of Leaves and Other Debris
The only other thing you need to do is keep your lawn free of leaves and other debris. This is important in the autumn and winter months when trees shed their leaves.
A new lawn needs plenty of sunlight to produce food and develop strong roots. If you’ve got leaves and other debris all over your lawn, they block the sunlight the grass needs.
Not only that, leaves and debris prevent air circulation. They trap moistures on the surface of the lawn, which can cause the onset of fungal disease.
So rake your often to remove them.
And There You Have It
That, my friend, is how to look after new turf. It’s not rocket science, it’s very simple.
That doesn’t means it’s not important though.
As I mentioned earlier, you spent a lot of time, effort and money to get to this point. Don’t cock it all up now by being in too much of a rush to cut it short or stripy.
Give the turf some time to recover from the trauma it’s suffered from first. I promise you’ll have a lawn that’ll have your neighbours ‘oooohhing’ and ‘aaaaahhing’ at it in no time.