Preparing for your DIY turf project

Date Posted: 19 September 2017 

If you’re considering putting in a new lawn in the near future, you will no doubt have lots of questions as you research and prepare for what you want.

Having recently planned a project for a new lawn myself, I was reminded again how many things there were to think about! Should I do it myself or have a landscaper do it for me? How much will it cost? How will I go about preparing the soil, do I need an irrigation system … and on it goes.

At this point, I thought it would be useful to write down a checklist of sorts to help walk you through the process.  I won’t go into heaps of detail here so if you have questions or want more info, the best place to find answers is either in our blog, or by calling us on 8298 0555

1.       Kill any weeds that are growing in the proposed lawn area.

This is best done with a glyphosate based chemical like Zero or Roundup. These chemicals are non-selective and do a good job of killing most weeds. It’s always best to spray weeds at least 2 weeks before you plan to start your project. Try to resist avoiding this step – Just scraping the weeds off when you’re preparing the soil won’t kill some types of weeds.

2.       Prepare your soil.

This is a big part of your project and will require some thought. Do this part right and your lawn will love you for it! The safest option here is to remove 100mm of top soil and replace it with a good quality sandy loam. This type of preparation assumes your soil is fairly ordinary like a heavy clay or a hard setting, rocky, shale. This can be a costly exercise. You either have to hand dig the area yourself or employ an earthmoving contractor to do it for you. Then you have to dump the soil that you dig out. Sounds like a lot of work doesn’t it!  There are some circumstances where you may not need to go this far. For example, if you already have a naturally occurring sandy or loamy soil that doesn’t set hard or repel water, then you may not need to dig out and replace any top soil at all. If you want an opinion on this, you can always bring in a sample of soil to our store at Hove where we will give you an opinion on its suitability. It’s a free service and can save you a stack of money if it results in you not having to do so much preparation. Remember that good soil preparation always equals a better and easier to manage lawn.

3.       Drainage

The soil preparation stage is the best time to consider drainage. Make sure you think this through here as drainage issues are very hard to address later down the track when your lawn is established. Make sure that if your area has any fall, that you provide a means for water to escape so that it doesn’t flood your lawn when it rains. There are many types of drains including pit drains, channel drains, sumps, ag drains etc.

4.       Irrigation

If you’re planning on installing an irrigation system in your lawn, this is the time to do it. Once you’ve  excavated the proposed lawn area ready for your sandy loam to go back in, use this opportunity to dig the trenches for your irrigation pipe lines. Whether you are installing sprinklers or a sub-surface drip system, by installing it all now you’ll save yourself a lot of time and mess having to dig up your freshly prepared surface later. If you haven’t installed irrigation before, don’t be daunted by it. It’s definitely possible, even for the first timer. We have all the step by step guides, tips, videos and advice you’ll need to get the job done. We’ll even design your system for you free of charge and walk you through where everything goes. Simply go to the irrigation section of our website for more information.

5.       Final preparation.

Once you’ve installed the irrigation and spread the sandy loam, you’ll need to compact and level the surface. Pay particular attention to getting the surface level. Use a flat piece of timber as a straight edge to flatten out the highs and lows. Better yet, hire a soil levelling screed from Kennards. This is a hand held tool that essentially looks like an oversized garden rake. It does an amazing job of levelling the surface in no time at all. If you’re laying instant turf, make sure the finished soil surface is 25mm below your edge. This means that the finished soil height will be slightly lower than your pathway, driveway or edge. This way you’ll allow for the thickness of the turf sod so that it sits level with your edge once it is rolled out.

6.       Rolling out the turf.

Now that you’ve finished preparing the surface, it’s time to roll out the turf.  This is by far the easiest and most satisfying part of the job. Rolling out turf is fairly simple. Be sure to wear flat soled shoes so as not to chew up the soil surface while rolling out the rolls. Butt the turf rolls up close together so that there are no gaps. Remember that turf is very perishable while it is rolled up so make sure you plan to roll it out on the day that it arrives.

Comments (1)

Great information!

By: on 10 February 2018
Thanks for the great blog post this certainly answered my next set of questions. I think I will need to bring a sample in of my soil. I think the back yard will be fine but the front yard is what they brought in to build our new house on so very hard.

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