Depending on the season that you lay your new lawn turf, the after care is quite different.
We will start with the cooler months of October through to March.
In these months the after care of your lawn turf is quite easy. Once the turf is laid you should stay off it until it is well rooted. The time this will take will vary tremendously. Grass grows at anything above 5 deg C, so whenever that point is reached right through the winter some growth can occur. You know when the lawn turf has rooted by trying to lift a corner of turf. When it won’t lift, you can walk on your garden turf.
You may not need to cut your turf at all during this period and if you do make sure that it is a very light “topping” remembering the basic rule that you shouldn’t take more than 1/3 of the height off at any one cut.
If you have used a pre-turfing fertiliser at laying then your turf will need to no further fertiliser until the spring.
No watering will be required during these months and is a huge advantage over summer turf laying.
Even once rooted, avoid any heavy usage through the winter months because the full turf stability will not have been reached yet. Use boards if you have to move heavy loads or barrows across the garden.
By early spring you can consider starting to fill the gaps with screened top soil or top dressing. You can sow grass seeds in these gaps early and they will germinate when the conditions allow.
Apply your first high nitrogen spring fertiliser at the commencement of grass growth and follow a standard or turf and stuff regime from then onwards.
The spring and summer months are more challenging for successful turf laying.
The first and most important difference is that water will be required to aid establishment. If you get plenty rain and I mean plenty then you may get away without irrigating you lawn turf. You should measure the rainfall that you get in a rain gauge and if you receive less than 1-1.5” per week then you must make up the deficit with irrigation. When you are irrigating your lawn turf, you should use a rain gauge (you can get them from most good garden centres) so that you know exactly how much water your turf is getting.
You can also check physically that your turf is receiving enough water by pushing a screw driver down through the turf into the top soil and making sure that you are getting 2-3” depth wet.
This level of watering should be kept up for at least a month. After that you can reduce back the number of times you water to a fortnight and then a month. Turf loves deep watering at extended periods, this encourages deeper root growth. One of the worst things you can do to new or established turf is to water little and often as this encourages both shallow rooting grass and the development of annual meadow grass, a real turf weed problem.
Spring and summer turf plantings must have a pre-turfing fertiliser applied to encourage and feed the rapidly developing root and leaf system. The correct fertiliser should be along the lines of this mix: 10-2-5 with preferably some magnesium, some iron and some sulphur. Lawn turf loves nitrogen, magnesium and iron for deep green colour production.
Fertiliser applications are best done on a little and often approach every 3-4 weeks. Adjust your fertiliser rate according to how the grass looks, increase it if it is pale and reduce it if growth is too lush.
Remember when mowing never to cut too much too quick, but once you have got to the 4th or 5th cut, you should be cutting very regularily up to 3 times per week. The more you mow your lawn turf the more horizontal growth habit is encouraged and the thicker and better your lawn looks.
Your mower blade, whether you have a cylinder mower or a rotary mower, must be maintained in a very sharp and clean state. If not your grass will always have a yellow/brown tinge to it at the tearing wounds on the grass leaf tip.
Ideally normal lawn turf should be kept around the 1”-1.25” length and kept at a similar length all the time (Although allowing a bit more length in drougt and winter conditions is beneficial). If you cut lower than this you must be prepared for a bit more care especially water and fertiliser and oversowing with grass seed to keep the grass right.
Always try to remove the grass clippings as they are source of weed seeds and can choke up the grass unless cut very fine. They do not add to the thatch layer.
Weeds. There will be no weeds in your lawn turf if you have bought it from a reliable turf supplier such as turf and stuff. However weeds, especially troublesome perennials, will appear from below the turf level. These should be spot treated with a quality, selective lawn weed killer. This is available from all good garden centres. Sign up to our grass care updates as we go into more detail about which weedkiller is best for which weed and when is the best time to treat all the different lawn weeds.