D.I.Y. Turf Laying

DIY turf layingI know, I know, it has been SO LONG since I blogged last. I’ve been super busy with three big projects, but now 2/3 are done, and I can share this first one with you! :)

When we moved in to our home a year ago, the garden was a total disaster zone – I’ve written about it a few times in Gorgeous Garden Beds and Goodbye to the Garden (for now!). But there was still one thing left that was stopping our garden from looking great – the grass (or lack thereof).

When we first moved in, I treated the front lawn with some weed and feed, which only had the effect of killing every single living thing on the lawn. I think that probably was because there was no actual grass there to feed – just weeds, moss and clover. And, of course, the weeds were the first thing to grow back. Fast forward a few months, and I thought perhaps if I pulled all the weeds out, the few blades of grass that had appeared might be able to take over. They didn’t, and I quickly gave up, because the weeds were so entrenched.

A few months later again, we decided to plant some grass seed in the back yard. We dug up the whole area and planted some kikuyu seeds, which were meant to be very hardy and invasive. They really struggled though, who knows why! Maybe because I have a black thumb.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that just before Christmas, I decided that the time had come to lay some turf down. I had seen some that my Aunt and Uncle had laid at their place, and it looked and felt fantastic. It was Sir Walter Buffalo, which is available from Bunnings at $6.25 per half square metre. So with plenty of advice and help from my Uncle, we got to work.

Step 1. Poison

Our first step was to poison all the existing weeds and grasses in the lawn. I used a weed killer that contained glyphosate 360, a broad spectrum killer that is non-residual (meaning the poison doesn’t stay in the ground) and pet safe after 12 or so hours. It takes about 10 days to work, but work it did! It is very specific too – you can use it right next to other plants, and it will only kill the plants that you spray it on. The poison travels down through the leaves into the roots, which is ideal. We waited about a fortnight to make sure no new weeds came up before commencing Step 2.

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Step 2. Cultivating

The next step was to cultivate the soil to a depth of around 15cm. First we removed all the dead weeds and roots (my god there was a lot!), and then (Mario) dug up the soil. We had plenty of good quality top soil from when the house was originally built, so we didn’t need to bring in anything new.

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Step 3. Soil Preparation

When laying turf, it’s quite essential that you make the soil as flat and level as possible, partly so that you don’t have a garden filled with lumps, and partly so that all the roots of the turf get good contact with the soil. It takes a surprising amount of time and effort to get it flat, after digging the whole thing up!

On the day that the turf was delivered (at 7am, yuck!), I raked in some fertiliser (designed for turf lawns) and some water crystals (to help maximise the moisture in the soil). I damped the soil, and we were ready to go.

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Step 4. Laying the Turf

My Uncle Peter came over to help lay the turf, as he is a bit of an all-round D.I.Y. expert. It’s important to lay it as quickly as possible, to avoid the roots drying out. Starting with the longest straight edge of the garden, we laid it in a staggered brick pattern, cutting the pieces as need be with a garden saw or secateurs.

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You can see in the picture of the back yard that there are two distinct colours. That’s because we didn’t have enough turf to finish the whole yard, so we went and picked some up from Bunnings. It had been sitting on a pallet for about three days, so it wasn’t anywhere near as lush as what we had received that morning. One week on, however, and with plenty of water and food, you can’t see any difference.

Step 5. Water and Enjoy!

Step 5 is the ongoing care. You need to water your new turf twice a day, as well as a super good soaking as soon as it is laid. It needs extra water if it’s hot. I cannot stress this enough, you will have a very large water bill for the first month of having turf! We have a tank, so that helped a bit, but I’m pretty sure we blew through it in the first few days. Keep a look out for any pieces that are struggling, especially around the edges, and give them some extra love.

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This is our turf, one week on (and that one week had some very high temperatures). Especially in the back, you can no longer see any colour difference or joins between the pieces. The front has taken a bit longer, as it’s a larger area and on a slope, so the water does run off a bit. In both areas though, we have started to see the grass growing, which is awesome! We love our new grass, and feel like it makes our whole house look better – newer, brighter, and more like it should.

What have your experiences with laying turf been like? Have you been happy in the long run?

P.S. In the next few days I will have a post coming about what to do when you accidentally cut through your irrigation system while you’re digging up your lawn! Whoops!

11 thoughts on “D.I.Y. Turf Laying

  1. Jacinta says:

    Looks AMAZING! I can verify that turf is quite stubborn and takes a lot to kill thankfully. Ours was laid for us and after waiting the 2 weeks (in December) to get into our house even with the dead looking patches of turf a good water and a bit of sun made it as good as new. Your lawn should stay fantastic with all the TLC you give it :)

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