Is it too hot to install instant turf?
Author: Stefan Palm Date Posted: 9 January 2023
Summer is a popular season to do landscape projects around the home but it can also be a hot and dry time of year. There is a common belief that when the weather gets hot, you shouldn’t do things in the garden like laying turf.
While there is some truth to that, you might be surprised to learn that turf varieties like Couch, Kikuyu and Buffalo love warm weather! This means that the warmer it gets, the more they grow, which makes this time of the year one of the better times to install instant turf. Coming off the back of a cool, wet Spring, this first bough of consistent, warm weather may have caught you on the hop when it comes to your garden. If you're thinking about installing a new lawn, you'll no doubt have that lingering question in your mind about whether it's a good idea to do it now or wait till early Autumn when things cool down. It's a really valid consideration and leads to the question: how hot is too hot?
From the perspective of the turf, it’s rarely too hot. As I mentioned earlier, the common varieties don't mind the warm weather we get at this time of year. With the exception of extreme or extended heatwave conditions, Summer daytime temperatures won't be an issue for couch, kikuyu and buffalo lawns in as much as higher temperatures will only accelerate the establishment of the turf - in other words, the warmer it is, the less time they will take to establish. The issue you will face is with ensuring it doesn't dry out while it's establishing. The hotter it is, the more frequently it will need to be watered, which will mean watering at least three times per day for the first three weeks. This can be as much as four to five times per day when temperatures get really hot. As long as the turf doesn’t dry out in the first few weeks, it will do well.
To answer the question of how hot is too hot, I'd say multiple days over 38 degrees in the first week is probably too hot - anything less than that is fine. The question of whether you should lay turf in hot weather then becomes more about you rather than the lawn itself. You'll have to consider how hot is too hot for you to be outside laying turf and whether you have the means to water the turf regularly during the day during establishment.
My top tips for laying turf in hot weather:
- Before you lay the turf, think about how you're going to water it. Consider installing an irrigation system or, at the very least, get yourself a digital tap timer and a sprinkler so that you can program the water to come on several times during the day. That way, if you're at work or not home, you won't have to stress about whether your beautiful new lawn is getting watered.
- Always lay the turf on the day that it was delivered. Turf is very perishable and won’t appreciate being left on the pallet overnight - especially during warm weather.
- Remove any plastic wrapping on the pallet as soon as it's delivered, and give the rolls a spray of water to cool them down.
- Plan to water at least three times per day at even intervals for the first three weeks. Contrary to what some believe, you can water during the middle of the day in hot weather - the water will never burn your turf!
As I mentioned earlier, for your own sanity, I’d probably avoid laying turf when temperatures go north of 38 degrees unless you have an automated watering system set up. Aside from that, you’ll have no trouble laying Couch, Kikuyu and Buffalo lawns in the typical summer temperatures we get here in Adelaide.