The simple answer to whether or not it’s OK to lay turf in hot weather is “yes – provided you take care to avoid sod heating”.
What do we mean by sod heating?
Sod is another word for turf. Sod heating is something that happens when turf is left rolled up for too long in hot weather. The temperature inside the roll of turf increases so much that the grass is thoroughly stressed by it. If sod heating is extreme, the grass plants will die and begin to rot. I suppose it’s a bit like being trapped inside a hot car – the longer you’re in there, the more likely you are to become very ill indeed.
The solution to sod heating
The only way to avoid sod heating is to make sure that turf is not rolled up for too long, that the rolls are kept cool and the grass plants are given plenty of TLC once the turf has been laid.
Let’s look at that in more detail
Don’t leave turf rolled up
In summer time, turf MUST be laid as soon as it is delivered. No excuses. No nipping out for a pub lunch before you start, no waiting for your favourite TV programme to finish. As soon as your turf is delivered, you need to start laying it.
It’s important to only order as much turf as you can lay in one day. For larger lawns, that might mean having turf delivered over the course of two or more days.
Get everything ready before your turf arrives
- Soil needs to prepared, raked and fertilised – probably best to do this before you order your turf.
- Have all your tools to hand: gardening gloves, wheelbarrow, rake, laying boards, hosepipe and sprinkler, turfing knife
- A clear run between the kerbside where your turf will be dropped and the area to be turfed. That way you can quickly and easily barrow turves to where they are needed.
- Put up a gazebo if you have one – it’s a good shady place to stack the turves you’re not actually working with.
- Make sure you have plenty of drinks and snacks ready to grab as you are working. It’s important to stay hydrated and keep your energy levels up.
- Find a sunhat and slather yourself with suncream. You will get all muddy but dirt washes off – sunburn doesn’t!
- Make sure you have plenty of help. Extra pairs of hands can make a big difference to the speed you can work at. Maybe have one person carrying turf, one laying it and one watering.
When your turf arrives
Place it in the shade – but not in an enclosed space like a shed or under a tarpaulin. Ventilation is key to keeping turf cool.
DO NOT water turf while it’s rolled up – you’ll create a mini-sauna inside each roll which will kill and cook the grass plants.
Break the stacked turf down into several smaller piles. The smaller the pile, the slower it will heat up
As soon as you have laid the first few rolls – start watering them