What is the best time to lay turf — plus, can you lay it all year around?

A man laying turf in his garden
There are a few things you need to know when laying turf (Image credit: Getty)

Knowing when is the best time to lay new turf can be the key to a lush lawn when the time comes to landscaping your garden after a building project.

The prospect of a cup of coffee – or glass of wine – in a thriving garden in the sunshine after months or even years of hard work is certainly an inviting one, so Homebuilding and Renovating has put together this handy guide on what you need to know if you want to lay fresh turf.

And once you’ve laid your lawn and the grass is thriving, it is a good idea to take a peek at our guide on the best petrol lawnmowers to keep your garden trim and tidy.

What is the best time to lay new turf?

According to Harry Bodell, gardening expert at PriceYourJob.co.uk, turf can be laid any time between the middle of autumn and early spring.

He said: “The best time is the middle of autumn. It should be laid whenever the soil isn’t too wet or frosty.

David Hedges-Gower, the chairman of the Lawn Association, says you can lay a lawn all year round – barring frost and snow – but the most favourable time is September to May because of the rainfall. Summer is fine but from June to August you may have to intervene with hosepipes.

“Simple logic will tell you that to lay turf in summer will require you to use a certain amount of water,” he says.

A man rolling out turf

You can lay turf at any time of year but certain months are more ideal than others (Image credit: Getty)

What should you put down before laying new turf?

It’s important that the soil is properly prepared when laying new turf. You’ll need to remove any weeds, loosen compacted soil, and level the ground

Harry adds: “You should also spread a general- purpose fertiliser over the ground around a week before laying your new turf. Add some topsoil to the area and even it out with a rake.”

The A1 lawn fertiliser on Amazon is a decent choice for this.

How long does it take new turf to take root?

It takes roughly two weeks for a shallow root system to form. However, it can take up to six weeks for the turf to develop a strong root system.

You will need to give the turf at least six weeks to grow before the first frost.

Once you have laid the turf and are looking for design inspiration, try out our article on lawn ideas.

An exterior view of the house with the lawn at the forefront of the image

Turf takes around two weeks for a root system to form (Image credit: Savills)

Is it OK to lay new turf in winter?

Harry: “It is okay to lay turf in winter. However, you should only lay turf when there is limited moisture or frost on the ground.”

If you’re thinking of going down the alternate route of growing from seed, Homebuilding and Renovating has a great guide on how to sow grass seed.

However, David says you should be tempted to lay turf on grass that has already failed.

He said: “People often ask whether this is a sensible thing to do, but let's debunk it.

“If your lawn has failed for whatever reason, do you honestly think it's down to the failing of the grass? Or do we think it may be the growing medium it's not surviving in?

“Grass is so easy to grow and when it fails it's simply down to a problem in where our grasses are growing.

“If a plant died in a pot, we would simply work out that the problem lies in the soil. Was it too dry? Did we over-water it and make the habitat not suitable for a healthy plant?

“Although you can throw turf down over old existing turf, you would have to ask yourself why you would put it down over something that had already failed? 

How long before you can walk on new turf?

You need to stay off the grass for at least three weeks during this time to give it enough time to form its root system.

Some gardeners say it is OK to walk on a new lawn gently, but you should not twist, jump, or run as this may dislodge turf or disturb seed.

If you are thinking of revamping your garden you will probably be wondering about costs.

Fortunately, we have a handy how much to returf a lawn guide.

Sam Webb

Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world.  As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.