Monday, 27 May 2019 10:46:19 Europe/London

Don’t let your new turf burn out

What are turf burnout and sod heating?

Turf burnout is just another name for sod heating. Sod heating is something that happens to rolled up turf. Research into the exact causes are still ongoing but we know that if turf is left in the roll for too long between harvesting and laying the quality deteriorates. In warm weather, the deterioration is faster than in cooler conditions.

typical signs of sod heating. Unhealthy looking turf with bands of discolouration

If your turf is suffering from sod heating you will notice

  • Rolls are warm to the touch – especially the turf in the middle of the stack where there is less air flow
  • In extreme cases the turf stack may start to steam
  • When turf is unrolled, the grass looks yellow and sickly
  • There may be a sour smell (fresh turf should smell sweet and earthy)
  • Worst case scenario some of the grass sward is black

lawn laid with turf suffering from sod heating. some green grass and some blackened areas

How to prevent sod heating

We know that the 3 main things that contribute to sod heating are warmth, poor ventilation and time from harvest to installation. Your job as a gardener is to minimise all three of these things.

Best way is to lay your turf as soon as it arrives. Don’t stop for a cuppa, don’t wait for your pals to arrive to help you. Start straight away.

To speed things up, make sure the ground is prepared before you order your turf. Stewarts Turf from Edinburgh offer a speedy delivery service to make sure that you can work with the weather. When you order online you can select the next available delivery date that works for you.

When your turf arrives

  • Break the stack down into smaller piles.  6 turves per pile is ideal.
  • Place piles around the prepared ground – this will help you to lay your lawn quicker
  • On very hot days create shade with a gazebo. DO NOT cover with a tarpaulin – air circulation is vital
  • NEVER water rolled up turf. Moisture speeds up sod heating.
  • Lay turf as quickly as possible and give it a good watering.
  • Do not let your new turf dry out. In hot weather you may need to water it twice a day.
  • Can’t water your turf often enough? You may be able to postpone the delivery provided your turf hasn’t been harvested yet. Get in touch with your supplier ASAP.

How to store turf if you are not ready to lay it

In a word – don’t! 

In an emergency, you can put turves in the shade and make stacks as small as possible. Ideally, unroll the turves and keep them watered. They’ll be OK like that for up to a day provided the grass plants have plenty of water and the leaves can see the sun.

If you see signs of sod heating

Phone your supplier immediately to log the problem. They can often offer sound advice.

Unroll every turf as soon as you can and water it well – even if that means having turf spread all over your drive for a few hours.

Lay turf ASAP and keep on watering. Very often yellow turf will recover. If the grass is already black, you are too late. You need to overseed the area and keep watering until new grass grows.

Related articles

How to care for new turf 

Will my yellowing turf recover?

Laying turf in warm weather 

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