How to prepare soil for laying turf
It’s important to create ideal conditions for laying instant turf to ensure it will successfully establish itself and thrive throughout all seasons. But how do you know if your patch is suitable for instant turf, including if it has the best soil for growing turf? Soil plays a critical part in preparing your area for instant turf to be laid, and it needs to be the ideal pH level and be adequately prepared before laying instant turf. Find out how to make sure your soil is ready for instant turf below.
Check the soil type
The first thing you need to do to find out if your soil is appropriate for instant turf is to determine if it’s sand-soil based or clay based. Essentially, a sand-soil base is best for instant turf as it allows for water to flow freely underneath and throughout the turf. If your base is already sandy, look at mixing in some organics to boost the nutrients (more on this later).
Comparatively, clay based soil can be quite dense and compact. This means if you have a clay base, you’ll need to de-compact and add sand soil to it. The best way to do this is by using a rotary hoe or tilling the soil to a depth of 100mm. This ensures the surface is more workable and will also help with root establishment. Applications of gypsum may also help to improve hard clay soils to make them more suitable for instant turf.
If you’re not sure about what type of soil you have, seek advice from an expert at Coolabah Turf.
Do a pH test
A pH test, completed using a standard test kit from your local hardware store or nursery, is the best way to check your soil pH levels. You want a pH level between 5.5 and 7. Don’t stress if your soil isn’t the right pH, as it can be adjusted with treatment. For example, if your soil is too alkaline, you can add compost or manure to it to reduce the pH. Alternatively, if the soil is too acidic, which is likely in Australia, you can add dolomite or agricultural lime.
Undertake soil preparation
Regardless of your soil type, preparation of your patch is key to success when you lay your instant turf. Each instance of laying turf will differ according to the type of soil you’re working with, so proper preparation and pre-work is a critical step to ensuring a healthy lawn long-term.
Firstly, we recommend you don’t lay turf on top of any existing grass, as it’s best to avoid any contamination from weeds that might be present. It’s also important to use turf underlay and apply topsoil.
Using turf underlay soil
Turf underlay is the foundation or bed for instant turf to grow on. It provides a firm base that allows for effective water use and retention, and supports healthy root systems that protect your turf from drought and winter frost. We recommended you apply a turf underlay to a depth of 100mm as a minimum, and spray out all existing weeds or grasses prior to spreading your underlay. It then needs to be levelled, rolled and watered prior to installing your new turf.
Turf underlays can include:
- Medium to coarse washed river sand.
- Heavier soil to help hold moisture and, mixed with the sand, create a free-flowing profile for water movement.
- Composted matter including green waste, chicken or animal manure, and some natural nutrients to help balance pH levels. We recommend a pelletised fowl manure like Dynamic Lifter or a similar product, applied to your prepared surface at 20kg/100m2 to assist with initial soil moisture retention, while also providing an effective slow release fertiliser.
If you have minimal topsoil on your prepared site, you’ll need to import a quality turf underlay (such as sandy garden loam) from your local sand and soil garden centre. We recommend your finished surface sit approximately 25mm – 30mm below concrete paths, or garden edges for Couch and Eureka Kikuyu varieties. If you’re installing Sir Walter DNA Certified, you’ll need to leave a 40mm gap below your edge.
If your patch already has a good base of topsoil, you may just need to rotary hoe the area to the same depth (100mm-150mm) and smooth or shape the finished surface.
Ask for help when laying your instant turf
Remember you're not on your own in the instant turf laying process, so make sure you always touch base with our expert team (pictured above) anytime for all the intel you require to best prepare your patch for instant turf. Contact us at Coolabah Turf today for all your instant turf laying needs.