A step by step guide to lay a new lawn with turf
I’ve been noticing on ‘YouTube’ that there are a number of people offering advice on how to lay lawns. In most cases, all I can do is shake my head. Many demonstrate how to take the shortcuts when laying a lawn. Indeed, some suggest laying turf on a bed of organic-based material. This isn’t the best method because, as the organic material decomposes in the sub-surface, the lawn will get dips and become uneven.
Consider a healthy root system
When laying a new lawn, the object is to have a good root system growing within the soil profile. The soil profile is made up of different layers called horizons. An horizon is a layer of soil sited parallel to the soil surface. Its physical makeup differs from other layers, both, beneath it and above it.
Ideally, we want the root system of a lawn to penetrate deep into the soil profile where it will reach the cooler soil. The deeper soil tends to be more moist and less prone to drying out.
To achieve a soil profile similar to this one, you may have to excavate and remove up to 200mm of existing soil. This is an expensive exercise. Firstly, machinery is required to remove the soil; and secondly, the tipping costs of waste material has soared over the last 10 years. Therefore, in most instances, contractors tend to take short cuts when laying a new lawn. They will skim off the existing grass, rotary hoe the area to be turfed, roll the area and lay the grass. They may or may not introduce a turf underlay but the faster the job is done, the sooner they can get paid and move onto the next job.
The problem is, if the lawn has been laid onto a clay surface or, worse, a rocky outcrop, the roots won’t travel as deeply. This can, and will, cause problems in the long run. A good, strong, healthy root system will allow the owner to mow his lawn a little shorter than normal. If you’re in the habit of cutting your lawn short but have a poor root system, the grass will be placed under stress. This may cause large areas of grass to go yellowy and never green up, even after fertilising; it can cause lawns to recede in shaded areas where they should normally grow well; it can even cause ‘browning off’ (especially during the summer) where the shallow root system is burnt by the sun.
The picture, above, depicts a sandy horizon within the soil profile. This will allow the roots to grow more quickly into a deeper profile as they pursue the water, minerals and nutrients they seek