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New turf dilemma

Grassclippings - Turfing DilemmaSometimes we like to feature questions from readers seeking advice on their lawn dilemmas.  Here is a question we received today from one of our many daily readers on this lawn advice blog.


I have recently re-levelled our back garden (250sqm) using a 3.5 tonne digger and a rotavator. I then subsequently went on holiday allowing time for settling.  As a "favour" my Father in Law cracked on with laying turf to the whole lawn in my absence. Whilst beautifully level I am concerned that the lack of preparation to the soil before laying the turf has led to a significant amount of bleaching in the grass. I am now frequently irrigating and wonder whether a mechanical combi scarifier/aerator would be appropriate. I will wait until the passing of the current hot spell before using it. Your advice would be appreciated. Many thanks, M.


Well it sound to use like your Father in Law is a bit of a star and you owe him a few beers for his efforts!!  In the hot weather, prior to turfing an area it is important to thoroughly water the bare soil  the night before turfing after final levelling, stone and debris removal so that the turf is laid onto cool moist soil.  The heat of the dark soil would be incredible and it can easily cook the turf if the soil is is dry and hot when turf is laid upon it.  The bleaching in the turf may be where the soil underneath is really dry and the turf has dried out in patches in the individual turf strip/roll once laid.

You are losing around 50% of all water applied through natural evapo-transpiration in the current weather conditions and you need to make sure that the soil is moist, not sodden below the turf after each watering session to check if your watering efforts are sufficient. Do not over water, little and often is the key.

In a few weeks time, once we return to the more typical British summer weather, you can fertilise the lawn with a slow release lawn fertiliser from The Lawn Shop to help the new turf on it's way and fertilise every three months thereafter.

Once the new turf is around 50mm high, plan to take around 25% of growth off it with the lawn mower.  Do not let the turf dry out otherwise the rolls will shrink. 

It was a brave move turfing the lawn just ahead of or during the dry weather and it may have been best advice to turf it at a later date but it's a hard call and it is nice to see a green lawn at the end of the renovation process even if keeping it moist is a problem currently.

You will get a few areas of turf fail, it's natural but less common if the turf came from a reputable turf supplier who monitor and guarantee turf quality to what is infact an ISO or old style British Standard quality system.

If some areas of turf do fail in the heat, these can be returved or over seeded.  If you get some shrinkage, you can over seed and lightly top dress these areas with a recycled 10mm compost and rub it into the cracks.

I would plan to use the combi rake or scarifier lightly in the autumn.  You will be amased how resilient turf grasses can be.  At such time, the area can be over sown with new seed if there are thin or bare areas.

Hope this helps out.  Don't forget the cold beers for your Father in Law!




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