Soil for laying turf
Sometimes, the soil on site just isn’t right for turf laying. Maybe there’s not enough of it, perhaps it is very sandy, full of debris or just poor quality.
If that’s the case, then the best thing to do is buy some in.
But what sort of soil is best for laying turf on to and where can you find it?
Soil texture and consistency
Naturally occurring soil is made up of differing proportions of sand, clay, and organic matter. We gardeners like to improve the soil in our patches by adding fertiliser, aggregate, manure, straw, compost or whatever we feel it needs to help it grow stronger plants.
Once turf has been laid, it’s virtually impossible to make any great changes to the structure of the soil. It’s not like a veg patch or a flower bed where you can add a bit of this and that every year.
So, it’s important to have the best possible soil base for your turf right from the start.
You need something that drains well and doesn’t get soggy. BUT the soil must also hold onto a certain amount of soil moisture so that the grass plants can be kept well hydrated between rain showers.
It must hold onto a good stock of plant nutrients and support the minibeasts that help break down dead grass leaves and roots into more plant food.
It must be easy to work with while you are laying the turf.
No big stones – for one – you don’t want to be paying for stones. Secondly, no-one wants to sit on a stone whilst picnicking on the lawn. Believe me, I have and it hurts.
You need to be able to cultivate your soil so that you have at least 15cm of uncompacted dirt to lay your turf onto – deeper than that if you can.
How can you tell if your soil is deep enough? I usually take a heavy duty screwdriver – they’re usually about 15cm long from the handle to the tip – and push it into the ground. If it goes all the way in there’s enough soil. If it doesn’t, I need to either dig deeper or buy in some topsoil.
Cost of soil for turfing
Please don’t buy poor quality soil from dubious dealers. You may well be disappointed with the results. Plus, surprisingly enough, soil is in short supply these days. It’s a precious resource and should always be sourced sustainably – no digging up wildlife habitats to build your lawn!
Bagged topsoil costs quite a lot to transport – it’s too heavy and bulky to put in the boot of a car and delivery vehicles, sadly, are not cheap to hire.
Expect to pay £70 - £100* per dumpy bag for good quality soil delivered to your home – if it’s less than that – ask to see a sample before committing to buy.
*average price correct in May 2016
Where to buy soil for turfing
For a good quality, stone-free, screened topsoil to top up the levels of soil in your garden, we recommend this nutrient rich agricultural topsoil. It’s also great for filling raised beds or boosting your borders.
To add organic matter to a sandy topsoil, this eco-earth soil is just the job. Sustainably sourced by blending composted green waste with topsoil and then adding some minerals for an extra boost – this is just the ticket.
More about preparing your site for turfing