Is it still OK to lay instant turf now?

Author: Stefan Palm   Date Posted: 13 May 2021 

At this time of year as the weather cools down, a lot of folks want to know if its still OK to lay instant turf now and into Winter? It's a very good question and one that needs some explaining.

Most people who have maintained a lawn in the past know that the comon types of lawn in Adelaide become dormant at this time of year and so when faced with the question of whether or not to roll out turf in Autumn or Winter, you want to know that you won't damage or kill it by doing so.  

Varieties like couch, kikuyu and buffalo slow down and go dormant when the temperatures dip into the teens so the actual question is, "Can you roll out turf when it's dormant?"  When it comes to rolling out turf in Adelaide, cold weather won't damage it so the answer is an absolute YES you can - however there are some measures that you will need to take to look after it through the Winter so that when Spring arrives, it will be in good shape.  

When lawns go dormant, they more or less stop growing. They stop growing on top, and they also stop growing in their root zone. This means that a turf laid in Winter won't establish and root in till Spring. Don't be concerned with this - the turf sods will happily sit there all Winter but it is important to know this because it will help you understand why the following measures are important:

Minimise usage because it is dormant. If you plant a lawn during Winter it’s usually for cosmetic purposes only. Because it’s dormant, it won’t do much growing or establishing so try to stay off it and restrict access to pets. Keep in mind that if it gets damaged or worn, it won’t repair itself till Spring.

If it doesn’t rain, you’ll need to regularly water it – right through Winter. Just because its winter it would be easy to think that you don’t need to water your new lawn. Remember that because it's dormant, it won’t be sending any roots into your top soil till Spring. This means that it can still dry out reasonably quickly. It’s not a big deal because it will usually rain enough to keep the lawn happy but it’s something to keep your eye on just in case there is a dry spell.

The exception…. The exception to this rule is that I would avoid laying turf in frosty hills areas during Winter due to the extreme cold nature of those areas. Excessive or heavy frost can freeze the turf sod which can lead to complications.

If you’re considering laying turf during the Winter months you’re probably just looking for ways to make that muddy area look good, or to reduce water erosion or stop mud being tracked into the house. Although it’s not the best time of year to do it, it can be done with confidence knowing it will establish properly when Spring arrives.

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