Laying New Turf in Winter
It’s a common misconception that you can’t lay turf in the winter months. There are potential issues to consider but there also advantages to winter laying.
If you have been holding off on creating a beautiful new lawn, it might be time for a rethink!
Tackling a slippery subject
Providing your ground isn’t frozen or waterlogged, you should have no problem laying and establishing your new lawn. If there happens to be a second coming of the Beast from the East, you might have to wait for your turf delivery as growers will be unable to harvest their product in icy conditions.
Don’t worry if you have taken delivery of frozen turf or it freezes before you can lay it. Turf can be laid once thawed and can be kept for weeks whilst frozen. Even thawed turf will keep for longer in cold conditions, giving you up to three days to complete your project. Frost won’t harm your turf after it has been laid. Just remember that you cannot lay turf onto frozen or boggy ground, not that you’d want to!
How to choose the perfect turf
Do your research and choose the turf which best suits your soil. For most gardens, turf featuring ryegrass is the easiest to work with and care for. Invest in the best quality turf that you can afford. The better the turf, the easier it will be to handle.
Consider whether there are shady areas in your garden. If part of your lawn will be shaded, source shade tolerant turf. This will be more costly initially but will be cheaper over the longer term as it won’t need replacing after a year or two.
How to prepare your ground
Wrap up warm and equip yourself with a good pair of gloves! Your turf won’t mind the cold, but your fingers might have a different opinion!
It is vital to check your ground before you start laying. If your land is frozen, you will have to wait until it has thawed.
Make sure that your ground isn’t waterlogged. If you find that it is boggy, try mixing in topsoil to dry it out. Your soil should boast a crumbly consistency. For the best results you need well-drained soil and so further prep may be required. If it obvious that you have drainage issues, you should attend to these before investing in new turf.
Use laying boards to walk on, as these will prevent you from making indentations in wet soil and then compacting it as you move around.
Dig over your ground with a fork or rotavate it. Remove any large stones and tree roots. Leave the area to settle for around a week before laying your new turf.
How to lay your turf
Handled your turf with care, especially if it has recently thawed. Defrosted turf can be very wet and heavy, making it harder to carry and easier to damage.
Before laying turf, use a hoe to remove any weeds that have appeared. Apply turf compost or pre-turfing fertiliser and then rake the surface until it is level. Raking will also aerate the soil, promoting growth. If the soil remains wet, leave it undisturbed until it has dried out.
You should firm your turf bed after raking it. In summer, this can be done by walking on it. But in winter, when the soil is very moist, lay boards over the turf bed and walk on those. The turf bed should be firm enough that the soil does not settle into undulations when it is walked on but not so firm that grass roots struggle to penetrate it or that drainage is impeded.
Lift the sections of turf into position, don’t drag them. Don’t worry too much if any sections tear a little as the pieces can be pushed into place and won’t be noticeable once the lawn is established.
Lay the rolls of turf beyond the planned perimeters of your lawn. The turf can be trimmed to the correct size for neat and precise edges. Use a very sharp knife for trimming. Don’t attempt to tear the turf into shape. Ensure that each turf roll is laid as straight as possible and that the ends are butted together. Stagger the rolls to create a brickwork pattern.
Try not to walk on the newly laid turf. Leave it to bed in undisturbed until the roots are established. Never walk on your new lawn when it is frozen. Check the turf regularly for signs of gapping or curling and address these issues.
The benefits of laying turf in the winter months
You won’t need to water your new lawn as often as you would in the summer. You should still water it after laying and keep an eye on it during dry periods of weather. Never water frozen grass as this could kill it.
Your turf should be properly established by the time spring arrives and when you most want to enjoy it. During the spring and early summer, there will be much to do in the garden and so establishing your lawn early will mean you have a lighter workload.
If are concerned that your lawn is letting your garden down, you don’t need to wait until spring to lay new turf. Providing that the ground isn’t frozen, you can get busy laying. This will give you more time to enjoy your time outdoors in the warmer months.