The decision of when to lay new turf can have an effect on how easy it is to care for your new lawn in its first weeks – especially in the event of a drought, heat wave or hose pipe ban.
You might imagine it is best to lay turf in the springtime, to give it the best chance to start making some new growth in situ, but this is not always the case.
Instead, there are good reasons to lay turf in autumn and even in winter:
But there are also reasons why you might want to lay new turf at any time of year. A newly laid turf lawn gives an immediate visual effect that you can’t get by growing grass from seed, and of course in the summer you are more likely to want a lawn you can use immediately.
So what are the factors that mean you should absolutely NOT lay turf? Luckily there are only a few circumstances when this is the case, and they often only last for a few days at a time.
As mentioned above, frozen ground is not good for turf, so if a cold spell is coming, you might want to delay laying a new lawn slightly – remember also that if your soil is frozen, ours probably is too, so we might not be able to harvest fresh turf at that time!
Rolls of turf that have already been cut and/or delivered may also freeze. This is not a problem as they will thaw again when the temperature rises, but it does mean you will be unable to unroll them or lay them until that happens.
If you have already laid your lawn and temperatures dip unexpectedly, don’t panic. Frost and freezing conditions should not directly damage the turf, but you should avoid walking on it if possible, as footfall on frozen blades of grass can damage and break them, leaving visible footprints behind.
For many people, summer is the time of year when you want to be outside working in the garden, and laying a new turf lawn can quickly give you some space for entertaining – but it does take extra care to bed a turf lawn in during hot weather.
You will need to water your new lawn regularly during dry summer spells. You will also need to mow it more often. And if you want to use the lawn straight away for barbecues and garden parties, it will face more footfall too.
All of this can put it under extra stress as it will not yet have established a permanent root structure in place, and if a hose pipe ban stops you from watering it, that will leave your lawn unable to pull water from deeper below the ground.
Because of this, it is best to avoid laying turf in summer particularly during spells of hot and dry weather, unless you urgently need a lawn for entertaining.
Even if so, you can give your newly laid lawn the best chance by watering the undersoil well before laying it, and by avoiding unnecessary footfall during its early days and when it is parched.
So we’ve covered when you can lay turf, and we’ve looked at when you shouldn’t lay turf – but when is the BEST time of year to lay turf?
Mid-autumn is usually a good choice. The garden has seen the last of the summer traffic, the soil is typically well watered but not completely sodden, and the freeze of winter is still several weeks away.
Dig over the exposed soil well and incorporate some well rotted manure into the top layer, and then give it time to settle – this will ensure your lawn is level once it is laid.
Before laying your turf, tread over the surface of the soil to smooth out any remaining lumps and bumps, and then rake it so the surface is not compacted.
Newly laid turf should be gently tamped down into position, and watered every 10-14 days depending on rainfall – and much more often in hot, dry weather.
Laying turf in a heat wave is not advisable but if it’s unavoidable, then with plenty of care and attention you can still get a good result – you just might need to hold your nerve.
Prepare the soil well, make sure it and your turf are well watered and moist, and dig some extra sandy soil into the exposed surface before laying your turf.
Try not to compact the soil too much when tamping down your turf – you want it to bed in, but you also want a rough soil surface for the roots to knit into as they start to grow.
Regular watering is essential when there is little to no natural rainfall, and is best done in the evening when the sun is setting or has already gone down, and will not evaporate the water away.
If your turf looks dried out or the grass starts to turn brown, gently spike the lawn to allow water to penetrate the parched soil, and resume regular and plentiful watering.
As long as there is not a hose pipe ban in place, you might want to use an irrigation system or lawn sprinkler to make sure every inch of your newly laid turf is getting the moisture it needs – with plenty of water and sunshine, you should eventually see greener grass growing.
The crucial factors at any time of year are soil preparation, watering, and avoiding unnecessary damage to your new lawn, giving it chance to bed down and start to grow new blades of grass and new roots no matter what the weather brings.