Ask a Turf Expert | Ivinghoe Turf
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Ask a turf expert

We've been handling fresh grown garden turf for over 35 years and as a result we know a fair bit about it.

Below we answer some commonly asked questions regarding laying and caring for your lawn.

  1. What's the best time of year to lay turf?
  2. What is the best lawn turf to buy?
  3. Do I need topsoil before laying turf?
  4. How much should I water new turf?
  5. Will dead turf grass grow back?
  6. Why is my new turf dying?
  7. How long until new turf is ready?
  8. Can you walk on freshly laid turf?

1. What's the best time of year to lay turf?

The best time to lay new turf is either in spring or autumn; when it's not too hot and not too cold. You can lay rolls of turf most times during the year though, although you may need to provide extra water if laying in the summertime. We don't recommend you lay turf when it is extremely cold though or you will have a difficult time getting the lawn to bed in.

2. What is the best lawn turf to buy?

There is a huge range of different types of garden turf available to buy which can make it intimidating to select the correct one.

Firstly you should look for specially cultivated garden turf designed for lawns. A blend of ryegrass, meadow grass and fescue grass is usually best to provide a solid and hard-wearing lawn suitable for an active family garden.

3. Do I need topsoil before laying turf?

The soil directly beneath new garden turf is critical to its health, vibrancy and toughness. In most cases laying fresh turf is the perfect opportunity to add a layer of nutrient-rich topsoil to your lawn at the same time. Ideally, 4 inches of quality topsoil will be provided for new lawn turf to root in. Whether you add additional topsoil and how much is entirely dependant on the quality of your existing soil, however.

4. How much should I water new turf?

Brand new rolls of lawn turf do require plenty of water to allow them to successfully establish but overwatering can be as detrimental as underwatering. Grass roots won't grow in waterlogged earth and will drown and rot instead, killing off the grass above them.

If the soil beneath your lawn feels very wet or the lawn itself feels spongy these are critical warning signs that you are overwatering your new garden lawn and should stop immediately.

A good rule of thumb is to water your new lawn once every couple of days for the first 3 weeks - but only if it's not already been watered by the rain. The type of grass you are using, the climate in your areas and the type of soil in your garden will all affect how much water your lawn will need though.

5. Will dead turf grass grow back?

Lawn grass can be dormant or completely dead and it can often be difficult to determine which is the case. Once your grass is completely dead there is no Frankensteining it back to life but there are steps you can take to restore your garden lawn back to its once green glory.

Determine if your grass is dead or just sleeping

The first step is to determine if your grass is actually dead. An easy way to do this is to grab a handful of the brown grass and pull; if it comes out without any resistance your grass is dead.

How to regrow dead lawn

If your grass is dead there is no way to bring it back to life, so you'll have to regrow your lawn instead. You can do this by either reseeding it or replacing it completely with a new roll of turf.

What if my turf is just dormant?

If your whole lawn is the same brown colour this could be a sign that it is just dormant rather than dead. Dormancy is a natural protective mechanism that allows your grass to withstand more extreme weather conditions. In other words: your grass will become lush and green again once it's ideal temperature conditions return.

6. Why is my new turf dying?

There can be a number of reasons that newly laid turf is not doing so well:

Drought / heat:

If there are prolonged periods of high heat and little water, your garden turf may go dormant to conserve its energy. This is quite normal for garden turf and it will recover when temperatures drop and rainfall starts again.

If you can't wait for the weather to change you can water your turf manually to bring it back to life. Start watering on a weekly basis, about 2 hours a week with a sprinkler as a guide.

Underwatering:

If the weather is dry and you see brown patches appearing on your lawn it might not be receiving enough water. If you use a sprinkler ensure that it is reaching your entire lawn, most sprinkler heads can be easily adjusted with a screwdriver.

Weeds:

Weeds such as daisies, clover, thistles and moss can easily sneak into your garden and start competing with your lawn for water and nutrients. It's easy to spot weeds growing on your lawn but more tricky to control them. The best way to avoid weeds is by using a weed and feed fertiliser as a preventative measure to stop weeds before they can germinate.

Disease:

Unfortunately, there are several diseases and fungi that can start killing your lawn. If this is your issue you are best to consult a specialist gardener who can diagnose and treat your garden lawn.

Pests:

Insects such as Chinch bugs and grubs can feed on your garden lawn and slowly start to wilt it. To see if you have Chinchbugs; pull back a wilted patch of lawn and look for small insects with white markings.
Grubs are beetle larvae and devour the roots of your lawn from below, to find these dig up a 1 square foot area of your lawn and peel it back. If there are many grubs (more than 10) this is problematic.

Grubs can be killed off by stopping watering your lawn and allowing it to dry out fully. Chinch bugs are the opposite and can be deterred by consistent watering and removing dead grass and other plants from your lawn. Insecticides should be used as a last resort as the harsh chemicals can also harm beneficial insects.

Dog Urine:

Dog urine is acidic and can burn lawn roots and cause it to turn yellow. There are two signs that this is the issue: the first are round patches of yellow grass that fade at the edges. The second sign is more obvious: look for furry four-legged creatures enjoying your garden after having a refreshing drink.

The damage from dog urine can be lessened by flushing problem areas with water to dilute the acidic urine.

7. How long until new turf is ready?

In general, you should give your brand new garden turf about 4 weeks to establish, ideally avoid walking on it at all for about 3 weeks. If you do need to walk on your garden during this time use a board or flat surface to spread your weight.
You should also avoid mowing your lawn during the first 4 weeks.

Once your brand new garden lawn has been laid it's important to care for it whilst it is taking root in your garden. If you look after your lawn during the first few weeks and months it will be more resilient, greener and healthier for years to come.

You'll need to regularly water your lawn during the first few weeks, even if the weather is not hot.

8. Can you walk on freshly laid turf?

Freshly laid turf hasn't had a chance to root into the earth beneath it yet so it's important not to rush walking on it.

The time of year and variety of grass will make a difference but in general, you should avoid walking on your garden lawn for about 3 weeks after it is laid and then continue to keep traffic light for the first 3 or 4 months. Walking on the grass occasionally after the first 3 weeks is fine but garden parties and football matches are still going to cause damage at this stage.