May is a month full of promise. It’s about birdsong, sunshine and getting the garden ready for summer. In this blog, we look at the pros and cons of laying turf in May.
For the past two decades and more, May has always been the busiest month for our customer service, harvesting, despatch and transport teams. It seems as though gardeners throughout the UK traditionally get laying turf in May. Here’s why.
5 reasons to be laying turf in may
It’s a comfortable temperature to work in
Once the sun is out and you can see some colour in the gardens around you the gardening bug starts to bite. The temptation to get outside and prepare the garden for al-fresco eating is just too much to bear. Would you want to refurbish your garden if it were freezing cold outside? What if it were really hot? No of course not. May provides a happy medium.
Long days help you to avoid sod heating
Sod heating is a very real problem for anyone working with turf. As the air temperature rises so does the risk of your turf losing viability due to this devastating phenomenon. It’s vital in warm weather to get all your turf laid on the same day as delivery. Which is easier to do if it stays light until well into the evening.
The soil is more friable
Being able to prepare your soil properly is important when you are laying turf. In May, it’s not uncommon for the soil to be damp but not soggy, well drained but not dry. And that’s exactly what you want when laying turf.
Turf can be laid at any time of year. September and October are favourite months with landscapers because the turf has plenty of time to establish before being subjected to heavy wear and tear. However, provided the ground is not frozen and the turf can be kept well-watered until it established. Midsummer poses problems because the new lawn can only be looked at and not walked on. Plus it may need almost constant irrigation to keep it alive.
The plants establish quicker in warm soil
Look around you. How fast have lawns, trees, shrubs and plants grown in the last week or two? Laying turf in May makes perfect sense because it’s the month where plants actually want to grow. You can see the leaves and stems growing above ground and you just know that the roots are growing equally fast.
That’s because the soil is warm and moist. The perfect conditions for plant growth. Establishing turf is all about encouraging roots to grow. That’s why Turfonline recommends using a pre-turfing fertiliser.
Moist air and occasional showers help keep the turf well-watered
Caring for newly laid turf is mainly about watering. It’s vital that your new lawn is watered every day for the first couple of weeks. If it doesn’t have enough water you risk turf shrinkage (where you can see big gaps between turves) and dehydration. For newly laid turf, dehydration is a death sentence.
The month of May is often generous with rain showers. The air is generally moist too which means less soil water is lost through evaporation. Don’t get complacent though on rainy days. Always check that there has been enough rain to soak through the sward and into the top 5cm of soil.
Should you ever avoid laying turf in May?
Don’t lay turf in May if
- You will be going on holiday in the next 4-6 weeks. If you do need to be off-site please make sure you have made arrangements for the turf to be watered whilst you are away.
- If the weather is super-hot. It doesn’t always happen in the UK but when the weather is hot turf laying is hard work and the risk of sod heating is quite high. If you must be laying turf in May and the weather is very warm, order your turf in small batches and get it laid and watered within 4-8 hours of delivery.
More about laying turf in May