26th September 2016
This week I’ve been laying a new 110 m2 lawn in Crail. The great thing about turf is that it can provide an instant effect. It is hard work though as each turf can weigh about 20kg.
Turf can be very expensive and I’ve noticed that a number of online suppliers such as Easylawn won’t supply turf to this part of Scotland anymore. For this job I bought the turf from Stewarts Turf in Lothian. As the lawn was for a family I elected to get their Emerald turf which worked out at £3.49 m2. Stewarts have their own delivery lorries which have a forklift attached. This proved very useful as I had two pallets of turf and the forklift enabled the turf to be dropped quite close to where I needed it. Quite often deliveries of this nature arrive on a pallet and all the driver has is a manual pallet truck. This means the driver can only drop the pallet on hard ground as it is almost impossible to move a heavy pallet over gravel. It is also impossible to drop the pallet on an incline for the same reason.
The secret with laying turf is that the ground needs to be prepared to the same level as for sowing grass seed. That is it needs to be firmed and the top layer must be of a very fine tilth with no stones. The best way to achieve this by digging or rotavating the top 15cm/6inches to break up the existing soil. This is especially important if the soil is compacted. The ground I was working on this week had had concrete paving slabs on and was compacted to the point that digging it over would be a real problem.
If you are not sure how much to get then most turf websites have calculators into which you add the dimensions of your lawn and they will then tell you how much turf is required. Quite often they will add 5% as a contingency. This is a good idea as quite often the turf can get damaged either when it is lifted or during transit. The turf lifting machine sometimes cuts into the edge or the centre of the turf rendering it useless for laying as an entire turf. Also, the turf at the bottom of the pallet can quite often be damaged by the forklifts during loading and unloading. I regularly end up losing several turves at the base of a pallet.
In this case the ground was hard and compacted so I decided to hire a rotavator to break up the ground. I hired one from the Mower shop in St. Andrews for the weekend as this provided the best rate, which was £45 for the rotavator and another £50 for delivery to Crail and pick up on the Monday.
Despite being a bit compacted the soil was quite good however, I thought it would benefit from having some horticultural sand added to give it some structure and improve drainage. I also bought several bulk bags (1 tonne each) of screened lawn loam. I use this as a fine layer to be added to the top of the soil which I feel encourages the turf to root quicker. I bought mine from Garden Topsoil Direct, an online firm whose website also has a calculator to assist with the ordering.
Having prepared the ground making sure it has been firmed and raked to a fine tilth I then lay the turf. I start in one corner and lay the turf so that eventually it forms a staggered brick-like pattern. This is to ensure all joins don’t line up which may lead to a prominent gaps appearing if the turf dries out. I prefer to lay my turf so that all the whole turves are laid down first then leaving any cutting to do round trees or flower beds to the last.
Once the lawn has been laid it is important to thoroughly water it ensuring the turf is soaked right through. You want the soil underneath to be moist to encourage the turf to root into it. For the first year it is best to avoid using any lawn treatments as these may end up harming the young grass.