Reasons for laying turf in winter and some hints and tips on making the job easier.
Winter is not normally associated with lawncare or turfing. However, 25+ years of experience has taught us that it’s actually quite an important time of year for both. If you are brave enough to face chilly damp air, short days and muddy boots you can get some major gardening jobs done in winter. Come the spring, you’ll have more time for growing seeds, painting fences and relaxing out of doors.
Here are our top tips for laying turf in winter
Look after yourself
Invest in a good pair of gardening gloves. In fact, buy two or three pairs. They’ll keep your fingers dry and warm. If you’re anything like me, if your hands and feet are warm, the rest of you will feel comfortable too.
Get help. In winter, the ground can be a bit harder to work and rolls of turf are likely to weigh more. I find turf laying more tiring in winter . More hands make lighter work.
Before you start work pop a nice casserole in the oven (or the slow-cooker if you have one). Trust me, you’ll be glad of a nutritious hot meal at the end of the day.
Be careful lifting heavier turf rolls – look after your back!
Work with the weather
Pay a lot of attention to the weather forecast before you place your turf order. And prepare to be flexible. At Turfonline we’re very proud of our track record for harvesting in the winter time. However, if the fields are too waterlogged or if they are frozen, the harvesting machinery just can’t lift the turf. That means that your delivery might need to be deferred.
Use laying boards when laying turf in winter
One of the main reasons for problems with mature lawns is soil compaction. Compacted soil leads to restricted root runs, poor drainage and moss infestations.
When you walk on soil that has been prepared for turfing, your feet will inevitably squish and compact the soil. It’s unavoidable. In winter, when the soil is wet, the risk of compaction is much much higher. By using laying boards you will spread your weight over a wider area and minimise the damage your feet can do.
Remember to use laying boards whenever you step onto a newly laid lawn. If you have some planks in the shed, they’re ideal. If not, turf laying boards are available quite cheap from www.turfonline.co.uk
Avoid laying turf onto frozen ground
If the prepared soil is frozen solid or white with frost, it’s always best to leave well alone. Turf can be stored rolled up for 3-4 days in very cold weather so you don’t need to panic. Just take your time and work with nature not against her.
Coping with waterlogged soil
If your soil is normally sticky and clay-like, it will likely be horrid to work with in the winter. You can help by digging in some good quality topsoil as part of your preparation. This will also help to improve the soil in the longer term. Remember, you can improve the growing medium in pots and flower beds quite easily, but once it’s underneath a lawn there is very little you can do to change soil texture. Do it now – while you can.
Asking for professional help
Landscapers generally have the ideal equipment for preparing winter soils for turf laying. Most reputable landscapers would be happy to prepare your soil for you in return for a moderate fee. They work quickly and efficiently and rarely leave a mess for you to clean up. Find a landscaper in your area by visiting the BALI website. Personally I would always trust a BALI member. Each one is regularly vetted on the quality of their work and their trustworthiness.
How to lay turf
This video from turf grower Q Lawns shows you how to prepare the soil, place an order and lay turf. If you have any questions about laying turf in winter, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re always happy to talk you through the process.