How to lay turf

First time laying turf? It’s something that even the most inexperienced gardener can handle. Plan ahead, follow our simple instructions and take your time; if you maintain your new lawn correctly once laid, it’s a project that you should only need to do once. 

Tools required:

  • Turf cutter or weed killer (if applicable)
  • Long knife, hand saw or cutting spade to cut the turf
  • Spade/Fork
  • Wheelbarrow to move the turf rolls (optional)
  • Standard rake
  • Hose/watering can
  • A friend to help you! (optional)

Step 1 – How much turf and topsoil do you need?

  • Woman holding a roll of turf to lay new lawnUse our Turf Calculator to work out how much turf you need. We recommend adding 5% more rolls to the total so that you have enough for cutting and shaping.
  • You need a base of good quality topsoil to lay your turf at a minimum depth of 150mm; our Topsoil Calculator can help with that too if you need to buy some.

ImportantTurf is a roll of living grass plants, so make sure you’ve done all of your preparation before your turf arrives and then choose a convenient date for delivery. You should always lay the turf as soon as possible on the day of delivery in the spring/summer or the following day in the autumn/winter at the latest.

Step 2 – Prepare the ground

  • If you have an existing lawn, apply a weed killer that kills grasses (at least 14 days before laying your turf) or remove it using a turf cutter – these can be hired. You could also use a manual turf cutter or spade if necessary.
  •  Now break up the ground using a spade or fork to a depth of 150-200mm and remove any stones, debris or weed roots. You could hire a rotavator for this step if you have a large area.
  • If applicable, spread your purchased topsoil to a minimum depth of 150mm.

ImportantRemove weeds before using a rotavator otherwise you will work the roots into the ground and they may grow through your new turf!

Step 3 – Create a smooth, level surface

  • Use a rake to level out the surface and then tread the area in several directions to lightly compact the soil. Never use a roller for this because you only want the ground to be firm, not solid.
  • Allow the area to settle for a few days before laying your turf and remove any weeds that germinate before you start to lay the turf.
  • Water the prepared ground one or two days before your turf delivery, but don’t soak it too much.

Step 4 – Laying your new lawn

  • Lightly rake the surface of your topsoil so that there is a fine layer of soil for the turf to lay on.
  • To lay the next roll push the end tight into the short edge of the roll you’ve just laid (don’t pull the turf as it might tear); repeat this until you have completed the row, keeping the edges as close together as possible so there aren’t any gaps.
  • Moisten the prepared soil prior to laying the turf on to it.
  • You should avoid walking on your newly laid turf until it is properly rooted, so start laying the turf at the corner furthest from you.
  • If the edge of the lawn area isn’t straight, overhang the roll so that you can shape the edge with a knife later, then unroll.
  • Gently firm down the turf using the back of the rake, to make sure it is in contact with the soil below.
  • Repeat the above steps keeping the long and short edges tight against each other and lay the turf in a brick pattern so that the short ends aren’t in a line. Use your knife to cut the rolls that are placed at the end of each row.

Step 5 – Watering your new lawn

  • Now that you’ve finished laying your new lawn you need to water it thoroughly, making sure you pay particular attention to the edges which can dry out more quickly.
  • If you’re not sure whether you’ve watered it enough, when you’ve first laid your turf you can gently lift a corner to check that the water is draining through to the soil underneath.
  • If there are puddles of water on the lawn which don’t drain away, you are heavily overwatering.
  • See our article ‘How often should I water my new lawn‘ for further advice.


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