For the horsey types and punters travelling to this week’s Cheltenham Festival, the state of the turf is sure to come up in conversation – is it wet or dry, hard or soft, and how’s it going to suit the glossy supermodel you’ve put your money on for the next race? If, instead, you’re planning to spend this long weekend on your own turf, you’ve picked the perfect time, because weather permitting, March is ideal for laying a new lawn.
Laying turf is undoubtedly more expensive than seeding, but nothing else gives you an instant lawn, and if your space is relatively compact, it shouldn’t break the bank. You do need to have the ground prepared thoroughly though, and make sure it’s ready before your turf arrives, as once it’s cut, you need to lay it pretty much straight away, or the grass will turn yellow and die.
Remove the old grass, roots and all – you can leave this somewhere out of sight to break down into topsoil for later use. Make sure perennial weeds like dandelions and plantains are dug out, and remove as many stones and pebbles as you can. Dig over lightly to loosen the soil and remove any compaction – if it’s an old lawn it will definitely be compacted, so you need to address this to give the new grass a chance. Rake over until you have a fine tilth the size of cake crumbs, and when you think you’ve raked enough, go over it again. And again (I know, by now you’re wondering who needs a new lawn anyway, but trust me, it’ll be worth it ).
After a little break and maybe a little cry over your aching muscles, unroll your new turf and lay in a staggered pattern, as you would a timber floor. Use a wide plank to distribute your weight evenly and prevent damage. Water with a fine spray, and keep watered until it’s firmly rooted in – only then can you walk on it, and enjoy your fast -tracked new lawn.
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