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Laying turf - conflicting advice!

We're about to move house, where there's a smallish, level NNE facing garden. It's currently home to just paving slabs and an overgrown laurel, so we'd like to have a lawn and flower beds. However I'm getting conflicting advice on how best to prep the ground.

I know we'll need to dig out as much hardcore as possible. After that, some say add peat, and some say compost is best. Some say add some gravel for drainage, others say don't bother. Some say add 4in of topsoil as the final layer, some say 6in.

And finally, I've heard we should lay the turf in October as it discourages early weed growth. Other views are to keep it as soil only until early spring so the turf doesn't get ruined in winter wet weather.

I don't yet know the soil pH but most of our area in SE London has thick clay soil. In past houses nearby, we've suffered squelchy grass and moss in winter and cracked ground in summer.
All thoughts welcome!


  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,950

    North north east isn't the ideal aspect for grass, but it doesn't mean you can't have it.   image

    I'd break the ground up well after removing some of your hardcore, then add a mix of topsoil, compost and grit.   That will give you a good combination which will help with the clay problem, and also the (probably) undernourished ground. Grass doesn't need a huge depth of soil to thrive, so I wouldn't worry too much about the depth.

    I'd wait till spring - mainly because the ground will settle over winter, so it means you can go over it and get it nice and level, and add more soil if you need to get it to a certain level.  A general feed a week or two before laying the turf will also help provide some nutrients after the winter rain. Wait till the ground temperature and the general temperature is rising but there's still the likelihood of rain to help with getting the turf settled in. The climate where you are will determine the best time. 

    That's what I'd do anyway  image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 4,050

    You may be surprised and find your slabs are just laid on sand!

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • SandTSandT Posts: 70

     Thank you.  Do you really not advise that I try to do it this October then?

     I did think about seed, but turf always seems to come up as the better option (?).  I don't really mind paying a bit more if it's easier and produces a stronger root.  I thought weeds were more likely to take hold in seeded grass.

     The other aspect is time. I work full time, so the only time I can be in the garden is a couple of hours at the weekend.

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