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Updated: 20 Apr 2022

How to lay turf to make a lawn

We reveal how to lay your own turf, plus which turf suppliers impressed us the most in our trials 
Ceri Thomas
Roll of turf

When you want a new lawn, laying turf can be a much faster solution than sowing seed, giving you an attractive result straight away. It can be used to breathe life into an old lawn, or create an entirely new one.

It’s also relatively easy to do, and a good-quality turf will establish quickly on well-prepared soil, so you could be walking on it within weeks.

We've trialled turf from several different suppliers to assess quality, ease of handling, and how well they held up several weeks after laying. Read on to see the full results, as well as tips on how to buy the best turf online or in store.

Plus, we give you the step-by-step instructions on how to lay your turf and best take care of it to keep it healthy and looking fresh.


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How to lay turf

Preparing the soil

For the best results with your turf, you'll want to do the appropriate ground preparation beforehand.

Spring or autumn are the ideal times to lay turf as the soil is still warm. Turf laid after mid-May might struggle to establish well if the weather turns hot and dry. If turf can’t be laid as soon as it arrives, unroll the turves green-side up and keep them watered.

  • Prepare the area to be laid, preferably before the turf arrives, by clearing it completely of any weeds and existing grass.
  • Fork the soil over to a depth of around 20cm and rake to a fine tilth that the turf can root into easily. A fine tilth has small crumbs of soil with no large clods of earth.
Forking soil
  • Incorporate a pre-seeding/preturfing fertiliser into the soil at the recommended rate and rake it in. It’s sold by some of the turf suppliers and has the ideal mix of nutrients to help grass establish. Alternatively, use a balanced fertiliser such as Growmore.
  • Level the soil, carefully eliminating bumps, with a large rake moved indifferent directions.
Rake the soil
  • Firm the soil by treading over it methodically with your feet close together, weight on your heels, and level it again with the rake, leaving it as flat as possible with no lumps or bumps.
  • If possible, leave it to settle for at least a few days at this stage and then clear any weeds that come up.

Firm the soil

Laying the turf

  • Starting on one side, bring the first turf over, think about which way it will unroll and place it so it fits squarely into the space. Unroll the first turf.
  • Place the next turf along the short edge of the first. Butt the edges together as closely as possible while keeping them flat against the soil. Do this by lifting both turf edges and placing them together, then flattening them down. Lay the whole first row lengthways in this way.
  • Use a plank to give you a straight edge as you cut the final turf with a half-moon tool to slightly beyond the required length to allow for any slight shrinkage.
  • Working away from yourself, use a plank laid on the just-laid turf to stand or kneel on as you move on to the next row. The plank will help to firm the turf into the soil but you should also firm it using the flat side of a rake, paying particular attention to joins.
  • Take the offcut from the previous row to begin the new row, so that the joins between the turves form a brick pattern. Lay the next full roll in the same way as you did for the previous row, making sure it is tightly up against the turves in the first row.
  • To avoid ending a row with a small piece of turf, cut the previous piece laid so you can lay at least half a roll at the end.
  • Use a fork or rake if needed to pull the turf closely over to the first row.
  • Ensure all the turf is firmed onto the soil with no air pockets, and water it to help settle it. Use a plank whenever walking on the newly  laid turf to spread the weight.

Best turf suppliers

To ensure you're getting the best quality turf for your lawn, it's essential to buy from a trusted source.

If you're looking to order turves to get your garden in looking great, these are the best suppliers we found in our trials.

Which? members can log in now to see the full results and which are our recommended suppliers. If you're not a member, join Which? to get instant access.

RatingCompanyWhy they're goodContact
Best BuyThis was the best turf in the trial. It was moist when it arrived, the turves had been cut neatly to a uniform depth and size, had sharp edges and had been grown in rich, stone-free soil so they were light and easy to handle and lay. The grass was in excellent health on arrival, with a vigorous root system. After 12 weeks the grass still had strong colour and looked as good as it had done when first laid.
RecommendedThis turf had been cut to a uniform size and depth and the edges of the turves were neat. The soil was good, but a little stony. The turves were relatively heavy to handle and awkward to manoeuvre on the ground. Each turf had a good root system and this turf was the quickest in the trial to root and establish. Grass thickness and colour were both good when it arrived and remained good throughout the trial.


Best lawn mowers 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert advice - keep your freshly-laid lawn neat and in top condition


How to buy the best turf

Large delivery of turf on pallets on a driveway

Online

Ordering online for a home delivery is ideal if you need a large amount or don’t want to load heavy turf into your car, although you can collect from some suppliers if that’s easier.

The websites of the companies we used varied in their ease of use. Some have calculators to help you order the correct amount, while some companies require a phone call to place the order.

Delivery charges also vary widely and can add considerably to the cost of the turf, so take this into consideration when ordering your turf.

Most suppliers sell different types of turf for different uses and situations, such as shade and active families, so think about your needs before ordering.

Bear in mind that you may need access for a large lorry and that pallet deliveries will usually only be moved to the kerb outside your house.

In store

At garden centres and DIY stores, you’ll find turf on a pallet in the car park where it can be easily loaded into your car. While some places may be able to arrange delivery, you may have to wait for this.

Our experience showed it’s best to phone ahead to check they have sufficient stocks of turf as it can sell very quickly. All the places we checked got regular weekly or fortnightly deliveries in spring and were happy to tell us what day it was expected, with one even offering to phone us back once it had arrived. This is ideal as you get fresh turf that has just been delivered.

The turf we saw mostly looked good in quality, although some was older and a bit dry. If you see stock that’s clearly been sitting in the sun a while and looks dry, don’t buy it. One garden centre even warned us that we’d be better off waiting for the next delivery.

Prices and turf sizes can vary enormously, although Rolawn Medallion turf is by far the most common type sold in stores.

What to look out for

When buying turf, it's essential to check that it's in good shape before you buy or lay it. Some key things to look out for are:

  1. The turf should be moist (but not wet), and thick in width and depth 
  2. The grass should be a healthy green with no yellowing in the sward or signs of weeds
  3. The edges should be straight and not ragged - straight edges are much easier to join
  4. There should be no holes in the turf, and turves should hold together well, especially in the corners
  5. Preferably, there should be no rocks or stones in the soil