The Best Time of Year to Lay Your New Turf
Turf is used for sports fields, lawns, and sometimes even playground equipment. This is because it has many benefits. It is very durable, grows well in certain climates, and requires less water than most plants per given area. It also is aesthetically pleasing to most people with its bright green color.
When I decided to make the switch to all turf for my lawn, I learned a few helpful tricks along the way. Admittedly I didn’t look into it much beforehand and wish I had! So I hope to share with you these tips so you won’t make the same mistakes I did! The first and most important aspect is when to lay it.
So when is the best time to lay turf? Turf can be laid at any time of the year, however, it is wisest to lay it during its growing period (August-October). This will ensure that you get the most out of your turf and that it will last as long as possible before needing to be replaced. When you lay turf in its non-growing season (November-August), it will establish itself, but won’t look great for a few years.
For the best results and efficiency in growing, then you should lay your turf during its optimal growing season! Additionally, there are a few other things I wish I had known before laying my turf. Let’s talk about them!
Laying Turf Grass in The Spring
Many people will assume it’s best to lay turf in the spring. That thought makes sense because a lot of landscaping and planting do occur in springtime. However, there are a few reasons you want to avoid laying in spring.
- Laying in spring requires you to wait the remainder of the growing season before your turf becomes fully functional. This means you won’t see much benefit from it for at least one year after laying, and maybe even two! However, if you lay immediately (in August-October) then you can use it right away without waiting for its full functionality.
- Additionally, laying turfgrass in the spring means you are doing it after the peak growing season. This is because turf grows best when temperatures are between 50-80 degrees Fahrenheit and rainfall is between 1/2-3 inches per week. Since springtime has much colder temps and much less rain by comparison, then you are essentially using turf grass in a sub-par environment.
- You will also have to use a lot more water to grow your turfgrass if you plan to lay it in the spring. This is because turf grasses need between 1-3 inches of rain per week (1.2-4″ ideally). This may be difficult to get before you’re able to use your lawn again during the optimal growing season.
- The grass may not be established well enough by the time summer rolls around. This means it could suffer through the heat and be left yellowed. This means more maintenance on your part to fix the lawn before it becomes a bigger problem!
Preparing to Lay Your Turf
The next thing I would advise is prepping your yard the right way before laying. There are a couple of things that I didn’t think to do which made this process take just as long as laying the turf itself! This phase took me over one full day of work before even laying the grass, but it was worth it. Here are the 4 things you will want to do before laying:
- First clean up your yard so there aren’t any rocks, sticks, weeds, or tall grass clumps. You want your yard as smooth and free of debris as possible to ensure the best results.
- Next, you’ll need to prepare the soil by raking it out in a brick-like pattern (vertically and horizontally). This will help with drainage when watering. If you’re laying on clay soil then you’ll need to break up the clay first. You can do this by digging roughly 3″ into the soil, discarding the top layer, and then flattening it out again.
- This next step will help you determine if your yard is ready for turf laying or not! If your soil is moist enough to form a ball in your hand then it’s ready, but if it crumbles or falls apart then you need to wait. Fixing poorly draining soil is difficult and time-consuming work that you don’t want to do needlessly later on.
- After preparing the soil it’s time to do some grading. You can either have your landscaper help with this, but I did it myself. Grading for laying turfgrass means making sure the yard slopes away from the house so water drains towards the street. If you don’t have grading done then your yard may pool up around your foundation which can cause some serious damage to it in time.
Measure Twice, Lay Once
The very last thing that you want to do before laying is to take measurements. There are a couple of key areas in which your measurements will matter. The first is ensuring there remains 6-12″ between the turf and any other objects throughout the yard (such as landscaping stones or garden beds).
Your other measurements are for cutting around already existing items in your yard. In my case, I had to cut a border around a tree as well as some landscaping stones leaving an opening on one side for a garden bed.
I recommend laying one strip of turf at a time because you will need to use a rotary mower to get the final borders flush. Turfgrass is tough but fragile, so you don’t want to risk damage by ripping it out of the ground while trying to get that perfect cut.
Once you’ve fixed any drainage issues, smoothed the soil, raked out a brick-like pattern, graded your yard for proper drainage, and measured then you’re ready to lay!
Supplies You Will Need to Lay Turf
There are a few things you will need to lay your turfgrass:
- 5+ rolls of sod (depending on size)
- a garden hose and water source (I used a sprinkler to water mine)
- fertilizer (buy after laying, but make sure it’s turfgrass fertilizer)
- grass seed if you’re planning on overseeding your lawn with grass seed (this is optional)
- stakes, twine, or whatever you choose to layout your turf (I used sticks and string)
- a rotary lawnmower (rent if needed)
It’s Time To Lay Your Turf!
Now that all the preparations are done and supplies are ready, it’s time to finally lay. Begin by unrolling your first strip of turf and staking it into place along with the twine. Then you’ll need to cut open and unroll more rolls and trim away excess plastic on each piece (if any) before laying them in place. I recommend doing only one strip at a time, especially if it’s your first time laying turfgrass.
Once you’ve laid all of your strips, water them heavily with the sprinkler to get them into place. Make sure that each strip is even with the one beside it and that it’s laying flat on the ground.
Next, you’ll need to roll over each piece of turfgrass while watering at the same time to make sure it’s completely secure. You’ll also want to water every 3 days for about a week so that the roots have time to take hold.
Now it’s time to install your edging and clean up your yard! Once you have all of your borders installed, remove any stakes or twine from holding down the turfgrass and give everything a nice rake to get rid of any twigs or debris that have gotten in. And that’s it, you’ve laid your turf and can be proud of your new yard!
What Are The Cons of Turf Grass?
Of course, there are some downsides to turfgrass. One is that it requires a lot of water and can be hard on your feet if you walk on it barefoot. These aren’t very big deals though, especially since most people don’t go outside without shoes anymore.
Another thing is that it’s not cheap. You can expect to spend around $30 just for starter fertilizer, let alone the cost of the other materials you’ll need. It’s also not very environmentally friendly since it doesn’t replenish easily and requires a lot of chemicals to keep your lawn looking nice. This list could go on, but overall if you want a green, lush lawn then turf grass is your best bet.
Where Does Turf Grass Thrive Best?
Turfgrass thrives best in full sun (6+ hours of sunlight) and well-drained soil. It doesn’t like boggy or wet areas, so make sure your yard drains properly before you lay. It tolerates most climates but prefers warm, temperate conditions. Turfgrass doesn’t do well in extreme climates since it doesn’t like freezing or burning hot temperatures.
It can handle most soil types and is adaptable to acidic, alkaline, or neutral soils. It likes a pH range of about 5-7.5 (slightly acidic). If you’re not sure what your soil’s pH is, buy a testing kit online before laying to make sure it will work. You can add lime to adjust the pH as needed.
Now that you know the best time to lay turfgrass and which mistakes to avoid, you can confidently lay your turf now. I wish you luck with your new yard, enjoy!