Buying Turf and Laying Turf
Buy turf from a reputable supplier and ask to see a sample. There should be uniform healthy growth with a high proportion of fine-leaved grasses and few, if any, weeds — something that can be hidden if the grass is not cut reasonably short. Check that it is of uniform depth, that theis of satisfactory quality and that there is good root growth, showing no tendency to fall apart.
The cheapest grade — and the most popular — is meadow turf, but it rarely contains many lawn-quality grasses, though it can produce a serviceable utility lawn. Downland turf is far more satisfactory — it contains a much higher percentage of fine-leaved grasses. The very best turf is known as parkland turf.
Turf is cut in various sizes but there is rarely a choice from any one supplier. Most are cut to a width of 40cm (16in). Lengths greater than 1m (3ft) can be difficult to handle.
A few suppliers now offer seeded turf — rolls of turf sown with a specified mixture of grass seed. You know what you are getting and, as with ordinary turf, you rapidly achieve the look of an established lawn. However, this is the most expensive method of all and needs a very well-levelled site.
When the turfs are delivered they can be left stacked for two to three days, but if there is a longer delay, spread them out in a shady place. Avoid laying turf when the ground is frozen.
Start by laying turf pieces one row at a time, the first row slightly overhanging the edge of the lawn area. Remove weeds in the turf as you lay them and discard any that are very weedy. Any unevenness in level can be adjusted by the addition or removal of soil under the turf.
Firm down the first row before starting the next one. Work across the rows you have already laid, using a plank to stand on. Stagger rows like brickwork, but never have less than half-size pieces of turf at the end of a row. Do not try to bend them to fit curving edges; lay in straight lines and leave the excess to be trimmed off later.
When all are laid, fill any cracks with a top-dressing consisting of half sand and equal quantities of peat and loam. Using a half-moon turfing iron, or the edge of a flat-bladed spade, trim edges with an outward sloping cut. Go over the lawn with a stiff broom to lift flattened grass and to remove any debris and then use a sprinkler to water thoroughly.
Some experts recommend rolling a new lawn lightly about a week after turfs are laid. This is not essential, but, if you are going to do it, roll first one way and then again at right angles.
Aftercare of Newly Laid Turf
The new lawn may need watering to help it establish and to prevent shrinkage. If any cracks do open up, fill these with the top-dressing mixture. When growth starts in spring begin the mowing regime with the blades set high; they can be gradually lowered as the lawn becomes established.
For Curved Edges
To cut a curved edge mark out the desired curve using a piece of string firmly attached to a peg. Cut an arc with a large sharp knife held at the end of the taut string. Sever the turf with a sloping cut using a half-moon turfing iron or a flat-bladed spade.