Top tip’s for laying the perfect lawn

Daniel Major How-to's

As we move towards the spring your thoughts have probably turned to getting your garden in tip-top condition. Jobs such as painting the fence or weeding are easy to take care of, but when it comes to laying turf it can be a delicate job to get right. After all, you are transplanting a pre-grown piece of grass into your garden which might not have the best soil conditions. Plus, there’s a lot of physical labour involved that makes it challenging job to complete. 

If you are replacing a lawn that is looking far from its best or even creating a new lawn area from scratch, there are some essential steps to ensure success. Here’s our top tips to laying turf from Westbury-sub-Mendip and beyond.

What You’ll Need

  • Turf
  • Fresh compost
  • Fertiliser
  • Gardening gloves
  • Rake
  • Fork
  • Canes
  • String
  • Tape measure
  • Cutting knife
  • Planks of wood
  • Sprinkler


When planning to lay turf in your garden, there are a few steps you’ll need to take care of. The first is to pick the right time to begin the project. While turf can be laid all year round, it’s best to avoid doing so when there is frost on the ground. In addition, long periods of hot and dry weather will mean your turf requires more attention as it settles in. 

Next, you’ll need to plan out the shape of your lawn as well as the size, to calculate how much turf you will need. It’s a good idea to order 10% more turf than you need, to account for tricky shapes such as corners. Extra turf is also useful for filling in slight gaps, especially along the borders. If you currently have an old lawn, then this will need to be cleared before you can lay new turf down. Ideally, clearing your turf should be done in advance to ensure the ground is level and that the soil conditions are good. 

Preparation (1-2 weeks before laying turf)

Start to prep the ground a couple of weeks in advance before ordering/laying your turf. The reason for this is because the ground needs time to settle and the conditions of the soil need to be optimised first.

To prep the ground, use a fork to turn over the soil at a depth of around 12 inches. As you work, remove any stones or perennial weeds that are in the ground. If the soil is in poor condition or is free draining, you will need to apply fresh compost/manure over the ground. Use the fork to combine it with the old soil, which will help lock in moisture and improve its nutrient content. 

You’ll next need to firm and level the soil. Start by going up and down the lawn with your heels in the ground to make indents as you go along which will remove air pockets before laying turf. Once you’ve finished, go over with a rake to create an even, smooth surface. Repeat the same process in the other direction. Leave the ground to settle and absorb rain water for 1-2 weeks before moving on to laying your turf. 

Laying Your Turf

Always buy your turf on the day you intend to lay it, so it’s fresh and well hydrated. For bigger projects, it’s a good idea to order the turf to be delivered.

It’s easier to lay turf when working in straight lines. By using string and canes, you can line the edges up as you lay each roll. Use the planks of wood to level out your weight as you work alongside each roll, rather than stepping directly on the soil. This will avoid making shoe marks in the ground which will create unlevel patches. Place the roll of turf along the straight edge you created with the string and canes. Ideally, you want it to slightly overlap the border so that you can cut it neatly into place afterwards. 

Unroll the turf completely, and then gently tap it into the ground to help it adhere to the soil underneath. Uncurl the leading edge at the edge before moving onto your next piece of turf. The second piece of turf needs to follow the string line too, but also needs to be butted up tightly to the end of the first piece of turf, to avoid gaps which could cause the grass to dry out and die. If this does happen, you can use lawn seed to fill in the gaps but it’s much easier to get right first time.

As each strip is laid, use the flat edge of your rake to gently press in the turf. While walking across the turf to do so, remain on the planks to keep your weight even. Gradually continue with each line until your turf is completed. Repeat the process of tamping it down as you move so that each piece settles evenly. Once your turf is finished, you can then go around the edges and with an edging tool or sharp knife to cut away overlapping turf to create a neat finish. Finally, turn on the sprinklers and ensure your new lawn is watered thoroughly to the soil below.

How Long Until I Can Walk Freshly Laid Turf?

New turf takes at least 2-3 weeks until it’s ready to be walked on. If you are not sure if your turf is ready, you can test by grabbing it to see whether it’s firmly rooted or if it lifts up. If the turf lifts up, then it is not yet ready. Once your turf is ready, give it a shallow mow and continue to water it, especially during drier weather.

Call In The Experts

Laying turf can be a physically demanding job, not least with all the prep work that’s involved beforehand. The good news is that here at West Hill Garden & Landscaping Services, we can take all the hassle out of the time out of laying turf, or any other garden landscaping job you may require too. By using specialist equipment including a water-filled roller – we can prepare your ground much easier and quicker than doing it by hand yourself. Plus, we can measure and fit your turf even if it features a difficult shape.

If you are based in Somerset or the surrounding areas, why not give us a call on 01749 321123 or alternatively drop us an email to discuss your new lawn. You can also follow us on Facebook or Twitter to keep up with our latest updates. Don’t forget to tag us in your lawn pictures over on Instagram, where you can also see our latest customer projects too.

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