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How to Lay Turf

The way you go about turf laying can have a big effect on how well your lawn beds in, develops its own root structure and ultimately grows more green grass.

Although the basics of laying turf are quite simple, there are also plenty of things you can do to get a better outcome when laying rolls of turf. We’ll cover the most important points in this guide on how to lay a lawn.

Find out exactly how many rolls of turf you need using our handy Lawn Area Calculator.

What you’ll need

You might be thinking ‘what tools do I need for laying turf?’. There many tools and materials that can help when laying new turf. You won’t need them all but it might be helpful to have any of the following available:

  • Rotovator, garden fork or strong rake.
  • Well rotted compost or soil fertiliser.
  • Sandy soil for preparation, levelling and filling-in.
  • Planks for tamping down and spreading pressure.
  • Turf cutter or sharp shovel for edging.
  • Plenty of water during dry spells.

Make sure you have everything you need in advance, or plan to lay your new turf on a day when the local builders’ merchants are open!

We offer express delivery to get turf from our fields to your front door in 24 hours – if you’re ready and able to lay it immediately upon delivery, this helps to reduce the stress and get the grass back into a happy habitat as soon as possible.

Garden tools and soil

Preparing ground for turf

1.A rotovator is a good way to prepare the ground for laying turf, as it will dig up and aerate a good few inches of soil. For smaller areas you can do this manually using a garden fork, but this very quickly becomes hard work over larger areas.

2.You should incorporate some good general fertiliser and/or well rotted compost into the top layer of soil. Don’t use compost that is only partially rotted down, as this could lead to your lawn ‘sagging’ as the remaining organic matter rots away.

3.Sandy soil can be added to improve drainage, while manure improves water retention, so work with the natural soil you already have and add what is needed to make it as turf-friendly as possible.

Top soil before laying new turf
Preparing to lay turf

4.You can level the surface by gently treading over it in different directions, but don’t compact it too much as you want your turf to put down new roots as quickly as possible – once trodden down, go back over the surface with a rake to break it up a bit for this reason.

5.Finally, your soil should be damp when you lay your turf, so give it a good watering before you start work, but don’t swamp it. Laying turf in mid-autumn and early winter can take advantage of the naturally wetter conditions at a time of year when temperatures are still high enough for turf to thrive in its new home.

Laying the turf

6.Laying the turf is the easy part – just unroll it into place and gently tamp it down on to its soil bed. Make sure neighbouring rolls of turf are butted up well against each other and if you must join rolls, stagger the joints like brickwork.

7.Remember that sandy soil from earlier? You can use this to raise the soil level if needed in certain areas, so that your turf is all at the same level – however, with good quality turf you should find rolls are all cut to the same depth so this should not be necessary.

Carbutts lawn laying service in process
Carbutts lawn laying service of big lawn on big property
Carbutts lawn laying service almost complete

8.At the edges of your lawn, try to avoid using any really small sections of turf. If possible, adjust the outline of your lawn very slightly so you don’t have to do this, as larger segments will typically bed in faster and start to make new green growth sooner.

9.While working, you might want to lay planks or boards across the turf you have already laid. This helps to spread your weight so that if and when you can’t avoid stepping on the turf, the pressure is not all concentrated into a single footprint.


If you are worried about laying your new turf yourself, Carbutts provide a professional lawn laying service to get your garden all set up.

Finishing off a new turf lawn

You’re not done just yet! Go over your new turf lawn with a sprinkle of compost or soil mixed with sand, and gently rake or brush this into any slight gaps in the joins between rolls.


By doing this, you help neighbouring rolls of turf to knit together and encourage the new grass growth to fill in those seams, giving you a consistent lawn surface as soon as possible.


Neaten off any rough edges using a half-moon turf cutter or some careful work with a sharp-edged shovel, and you should have a tidy, flat lawn all neatly laid and ready to start putting down some roots of its own.

Carbutts lawn laying service complete