How to lay turf

Welcome to our step-by-step guide to creating a beautiful new lawn, including the tools you will need, tips for measuring your garden, and how to correctly prepare the ground to ensure your lawn has the best conditions to grow and root in its new home.

Following these tips will give you the best possible chance of creating a truly beautiful lawn.

Getting Started

Laying turf is a highly time-sensitive task. Even turf that has been treated with Rolawn’s unique Profresh® technology is perishable and needs to be laid quickly. Rolawn turf can be laid all year round, however frosty conditions should be avoided and laying turf in extended periods of hot and dry weather will require additional care and attention.

To make laying your new lawn as simple as possible, ensure you choose a period of favourable weather and have the correct tools to hand.

Required Tools:

  • Wheelbarrow
  • Rake
  • Long knife or old hand saw
  • Spade or fork
  • Some scaffolding planks
  • Garden hose and sprinkler
  • You may also need a rotovator and, if you’re replacing an existing lawn, a turf cutter or weed killer.

Step 1: Planning your new lawn

It helps to think ahead about the shape and size of lawn you are creating, how much turf and topsoil you may need and whether you will need to order a skip to remove any old turf.

Ground preparation should be completed in advance to ensure turf can be laid out within our recommended time frames:

  • Spring/summer- roll out turf immediately
  • Autumn/winter- roll out turf with 24 hours
Rolawn graphic depicting how to calculate garden area

Step 2 : Ground preparation

If you have an existing lawn this needs to be removed first. We do not recommend laying turf on existing grass, as this will prevent the new turf from rooting well.  It’s also possible for weeds to come through the new turf. The lawn is likely to deteriorate over time if the reason for relaying the lawn is not addressed.

Removing an existing Lawn

Lifting the turf – turf cutters are available from all reputable hire shops and can be used to remove an existing lawn. One of the benefits of this method is that any turf you take up can be used to make compost, either at home or by your local authority if you place it in a garden waste skip at your local household waste recycling centre.

Weed killer – treat the existing lawn using a proprietary non-selective weed killer suitable for killing grasses. This also will help prevent weeds and weed grasses coming up through your new turf. For full effectiveness you may have to leave this for approximately 14 days.

Compost in gardeners hands

Checking the quality and depth of your soil

Once the area is clear and free of weeds, ensure you have a minimum topsoil depth of 100mm, ideally 150mm, which is levelled and raked to a fine tilth.

Rolawn’s specialist Turf & Lawn Seeding Topsoil provides the ideal base for turf, helping to create the level surface and firm foundation required for laying turf or applying lawn seed. It is blended with GroRight® Lawn Establishment Fertiliser to help ensure your lawn gets off to the best possible start.

Alternatively, a soil improver can be used to enhance existing soil. If you need to purchase topsoil, find out how much you will need using our product calculator. Our Topsoil Technical Advice offers more guidance on how to select and use the right soils.

Levelling of the ground

Levelling is one part of the preparation that it’s really worth getting right to help you get the best performance from Britain’s Finest Turf. Putting in the effort now will pay dividends by creating a level and aesthetically pleasing lawn that is easier to mow and maintain.

If this is the first time you have laid a lawn, you may not realise that when the ground looks level to the eye there are likely to be areas that still need work.

Gently walking up and down the area is the best way to identify irregularities. Through your feet, you can sense the soft and hard ground, dips and raised patches, in a way that is not possible with machinery.

Topsoil being raked
  • Begin by digging over or rotovating the soil to loosen it up.
  • Remove any surface stone, clods, other debris and perennial weeds.
  • Once loosened the soil should be lightly compacted by walking over the whole area and then again at right angles to the first direction.
  • Break up any heavily compacted areas using a fork and fill any dips, lightly compacting.
  • Then rake the surface to a fine tilth and make sure that the surface is level.
  • Do not use any heavy equipment on the prepared soil, such as roller, as this will compact the soil too much.

If you are not using our Turf & Lawn Seeding Topsoil as a base, apply a pre-turfing fertiliser to the soil, incorporating it into the top 25mm of soil, to ensure your new turf is fed properly during its establishment.

Step 3: Laying the turf

As outlined above, it is essential to lay your turf as soon as it is delivered.

  • Start laying the turf, preferably along a straight edge, butting closely end to end.
  • On subsequent rows stagger the joints in brickwork fashion.
  • For circular lawns start in the middle and work your way out.
  • Always unroll turf across a slope, not down it.
  • Lightly firm down the turves with the head of a rake or piece of wood to ensure good contact between the underside of the turf and the soil.
  • Any remaining cracks can be filled with a light soil (Turf & Lawn Seeding Topsoil is ideal) and tamped down.
  • Trim the ends of the turf with a long knife, hand saw or cutting spade to shape around any trees, paths and beds.
  • Finally, where the outer edges of the new turf are exposed, cover with a light soil to prevent them drying out. This can be removed after a few weeks, once the turf is more established.
Laying turf against a straight edge - Rolawn how to lay turf guide

Important points to remember​

As outlined above, it is essential to lay your turf as soon as it is delivered.

  • Planks should be placed on your newly laid turf for walking along and working from to ensure the prepared soil remains level.
  • Never use a roller on freshly laid turf as this can cause compaction if used incorrectly.
  • Always push turf into a joint; never stretch the turves by pulling them.
  • Turf must not be allowed to dry out. In hot weather try to start watering areas laid first prior to completing the whole area, then continue to water regularly.
  • Medallion® turf can and should be mown as soon as it needs it, which could even be within a week after laying, to encourage establishment.
How to lay a new lawn by the UK's top experts, Rolawn - growers of Britain's Finest Turf

Step 4: Aftercare

Caring for your new turf

Follow our guide to caring for newly laid turf to ensure your new turf establishes quickly for a beautiful and healthy lawn.

Ongoing maintenance

Over time, the appearance of your lawn will be affected by its environment and treatment. A healthy lawn requires the right balance of air, food, water and light which can be achieved with an appropriate lawn maintenance programme. For a comprehensive guide please see our Lawn Care pages

Topdressing a lawn - how to care for your lawn - how to lay turf article

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