Turf heat stress - why you MUST lay turf as soon as it's delivered
Turf heat stress is something that you don’t see in many other landscaping products. It can destroy a pallet-full of turf within hours and leave you disappointed and angry. Worse still – if you haven’t complied with the supplier’s Terms and Conditions of sale, you may not be entitled to a refund.
What is turf heat stress?
Turf is a living product. Each roll of turf contains thousands of individual grass plants. When it's rolled up, the grass plants within the turf have no access to light, fresh air or water. The exact three things that they need to survive.
Turf heat stress can be fatal to grass. Avoid it by keeping turves cool and laying them as soon as they arrive.
As soon as turf is harvested and rolled up, the plants are placed under stress. Rolls are stacked up on a pallet for safe transportation. Pallet are then loaded side by side onto a lorry. There is very little air-flow between pallets or rolls to help oxygenate the plants and keep them cool and healthy.
Over time, the pallet of turf heats up. On warm days, it can heat quite quickly. In a way, it’s a bit like a compost heap. The stressed out plants generate their own heat which exacerbates the situation and before you know it, you have a real problem.
The plants overheat and they suffocate and die. Then they begin to rot.
What are the signs of turf heat stress?
The first thing you’ll notice is the heat. In extreme cases the pallet of turf will even steam.
In advanced turf heat stress there’ll be a smell too.
If you unroll a turf that is suffering from sod heating the grass will be a yellowy-green colour and it will be floppy. Healthy turf has dark green grass that feels springy.
Mild turf heat stress is characterised by areas of slightly discoloured grass. In this case, the turf has been laid promptly and should recover if it's kept well watered.
In really bad cases, the grass will be black or even grey and ash-like.
Heated turf typically has stripes of variable colour running parallel to the short side of the turf.
How can you avoid turf heat stress?
Forget about cooking lunch, having another cuppa or waiting for your friend to arrive. As soon as your turf is delivered, you need to spring into action.
- Break the pallet down into smaller piles of turf so that air can circulate around the rolls
- Lay turf as soon as it arrives (prepare the soil before turf is delivered)
- DO NOT water rolled up turf
- Keep rolled out turf out of the sun but never in a shed or garage - it must be well ventilated
- NEVER cover turf with any sort of cloth or tarpaulin
Start laying turf immediately. Even if it’s raining or the sun is going down. It cannot wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow, if needs be you can tidy up your work. That’s far easier than trying to undo turf heat stress.
What can you do if your turf has been affected by sod heating?
If your turf has only just begun to heat up and it looks as though the grass is yellowing but it doesn’t feel hot – it’s fine to go ahead and lay the turf. Keep it well watered and it should recover.
If rolls are very hot and the grass is black or grey, unroll them anyway and take photographs. Lots of photographs. Contact your supplier immediately – via email if it’s after office hours - and ask for their advice. Most reputable suppliers will be happy to offer advice but be warned, if you have delayed laying your turf then you may not be eligible for a refund
How to store turf - helpful hints and tips for when you can't lay turf straight away - read more here
Hot weather reduces turf shelf-life - read more here