Wednesday, 26 July 2017 10:48:36 Europe/London

Laying Turf in Warm Weather

Laying Turf in Hot Weather – Frequently Asked Questions

blue sky with few clouds and bright sun

Hot weather? In Scotland? Well yes, it does happen sometimes.  And if that hot weather clashes with you wanting to lay turf, you may need to take a few extra precautions.   Here are some of the questions that our customers regularly ask about laying turf in hot weather

Is it OK to lay turf in hot weather?

You can lay turf in any weather unless ground is either frozen or too wet to work with.  In hot or dry weather, you will need to be ready to water it every day until the grass has established.  The same applies to Meadowmat wild flower turf.   If you can work the soil, you can lay the turf.

How long can I keep turf rolled up in hot weather?

Simple answer.  Don’t even try to store turf in summer!  Turf is highly perishable and the warmer the weather, the quicker it will go off.  If your turf is delivered before you are ready to lay it there are a few precautions you can take to extend its shelf life, but we’re talking about a couple of hours here – not even half a day.

  • Break the pallet down into small stacks – 3-5 turves maximum.
  • If you can, place each stack on a pallet so that the air can flow underneath it.
  • Leave lots of room between stacks.  Remember: good ventilation is your friend.
  • Stack turf in the shade – but not in an enclosed space.   Beneath a tree is good.  In the garage is definitely not good.
  • DO NOT water turf when it’s rolled up.  You’ll speed up the sod heating process and end up with a smelly steaming heap of compost.
  • NEVER cover rolled up turf with a cloth or a tarpaulin.  You might think that it would shade the turf but in fact in creates a hot humid microclimate that’s not good for grass.

turf rolls placed ready to be laid

Placing rolls of turf roughly where they are to be laid not only speeds up the installation, it helps slow down sod heating by letting plenty of air circulate around each roll.

How can I lay turf quicker?

If you’re an experienced landscaper you’re probably already quite fast at laying turf.   If you’re a learner, here are some tips.

  • Prepare the soil BEFORE the turf arrives
  • Make sure you have a hosepipe that is long enough to reach every part of the new lawn.  There won’t be time to nip out and buy another one.
  • Have you got a sharp knife for trimming turves to fit?  No? Find one before you start.  Preferably one that you can safely put in your back pocket OR one that is brightly coloured and easy to spot should you forget where you left it.
  • Do some stretching exercises before you start – if your muscles are properly warmed up you are less likely to strain your back.  (turfing is quite hard on the back – all that bending and lifting)
  • Have plenty of help on hand – two extra people can carry the turves from the stack to you and save you getting up and down.   Three extra people would mean two can lay turves and two can carry them.
  • Make sure you have enough laying boards.  That way you won’t need to keep stopping to move them around, or worse, to rake out the footprints you put into the prepared ground.
  • Keep your energy levels up.   Eat a good breakfast, prepare your lunch in advance so it’s ready to eat when you need it.   Snack on nutritious foods such as bananas, nuts, oat bars and fruit smoothies.  Don’t wait until you get hungry – you can’t lay turf on an empty stomach.  Drink lots and lots of water (not alcohol) to keep hydrated.   Wear a hat – and sunscreen.   The last thing you need right now is sunstroke.
  • No stopping to chat to the neighbours – turf first, talk later

You’ll be surprised at how quickly you get into a rhythm.  The thing is to work steadily.  Don’t panic and try to rush, but don’t dawdle either.

What if the turf starts to overheat before I’ve finished laying it?

As soon as you see signs of overheating, unroll all of the turves and water them.  You may need to spread them out on the patio, on top of the work you’ve already done, on the veggie patch, the front lawn, anywhere.   You can continue to lay the turves, just roll each one up while you carry it to where it’s needed and then lay it as normal.   You will get filthy dirty but hey-ho, that’s gardening for you!

How much water should I give newly laid turf?

Whatever you do, don’t be mean with the watering.   As soon as you have finished laying your turf, give it a really good soaking.   Make sure the water seeps right through the turves and into the top 10cm of soil beneath.    Check again in a couple of hours and water it again.

Thereafter, water your new lawn every evening without fail for the next 10 days.  In really hot weather, you may need to water in the mornings too.    Try to avoid irrigating in the heat of the day – the water will just evaporate into the air and be wasted.

When you can tug on the grass and feel some resistance, the turf is starting to root in.   That means you’ve done a good job.   You can water every other day now for a fortnight or until the grass seems to be well established.  Your instinct will tell you when it’s OK to stop watering but keep an eye on things for the first month.

What if I’m worried about my new turf?

Eleanor and Dave in the Stewarts Turf Office are always happy to answer questions about laying and caring for new turf.

Drop them an email – ideally with photographs and one of them will reply as soon as possible.  Alternatively talk to us via Facebook Messenger.

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You may also find these articles useful

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Turf Laying Tips - helpful advice from professional landscapers


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