If you are one of those who think turf is going to cover up a multitude of sins, you need to wake up. It’s a terrible mistake because it doesn’t cover up any, rather reveals them. You’ve got to prepare your soil thoroughly. Dig the ground, remove all weeds, and level it; it appears to be a pretty simple schedule that needs to be followed but if you don’t know how to do it properly, it can and it will go south. So, here are a few tips for getting the soil preparation thorough and right.
- You need to get rid of every last scrap of weed. Make sure no nettles, docks or dandelions are there to spoil your lawn, they will come back to bite you if you leave them. 3-4 weeks before turfing, dig over the area and remove all roots, leaves, stalks and plant material from the soil.
- Dig the ground, you want to rake it smooth and get rid of all the stones if possibly can. As a rough guide, if a stone is bigger than a matchbox, it’s too big to be under your lawn.
- For healthy growth, grass needs to be able to push its roots down into the soil. That way the plants can reach soil moisture in dry weather and they can access all sorts of amazing minerals and nutrients. Dig and loosen the soil up for plants as much as you can. Experts say, you need to dig at least 15cm (6 inches) down.
- Do a soil test and learn what is in the soil in abundance and what is it lacking. This will help you determine what your next step should be. No matter what sort of soil you have in your project area, importing some really good soil for turf will help your lawn to look better for longer. If your garden soil is naturally sandy and doesn’t retain water for long, dig in some organic matter such as compost or very well-rotted manure. If you have clay soil which is heavy, sticky and gets boggy in winter, incorporate some gravel to help with drainage and some organic matter to encourage worms to come along and aerate it for you.
- Make sure the ground is level. It’s a tedious job but it really will make or break your lawn. Test the levels at every stage of the preparation process and always use laying boards when putting turf down. Rake the soil to break down any big lumps and to get a nice even surface.
- The gardener’s shuffle, that’s what you need to do next. There is no shortcut to it but to simply stomp, and keep stomping until it’s done. It can get a bit tedious on your own – so have some fun and invite friends and family to join you in this one. Criss-cross your soil, taking tiny steps so that you press every single bit of soil down.
- Pre-turfing fertiliser may seem like an extra expense but it really does speed up establishment. Sprinkle on before you give the last run-over with your rake.