When to mow new turf? And why you shouldn't mow it too soon

New rolls of turf being rolled out on top soil
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Knowing when to mow newly-laid turf can be a minefield. After all, you have taken careful steps to lay your lawn turf correctly and at the right time and it looks fresh and verdant. But how do you keep it looking great without ruining your hard work?

Before you even start you will – unsurprisingly – need the right tool for the job, so take a look at our best petrol lawnmowers guide so you can keep your garden trim and tidy.

This quick guide will explain how to avoid this common pitfall that affects many well-meaning gardeners.

When to move new turf? 

According to Harry Bodell, a gardening expert at PriceYourJob.co.uk, you will need to wait at least three weeks before mowing the lawn. 

“Before getting the mower on the lawn, do a tug test to check whether the grass has properly rooted in the soil," he adds. “If you feel resistance when you tug the grass, this means the grass is rooted and it’s ready for mowing.”

And after your lawn has bedded in a bit and is growing tall, check out our guide on how to cut long grass for optimal results.

What happens if you cut new turf too soon?

If you mow your new turf too soon, the shallow roots won’t be able to cope and the turf could start to struggle and become thinned out. Harry warns that this can result in the growth of moss and weeds very quickly.

Your lawn turf is vulnerable during the first couple of weeks and needs to be frequently watered, according to the experts at Turfonline.

Before it was harvested, the turf was growing in a field and its roots had pushed around 90cm deep into the soil. About 2.5cm of the root mass will then have been sliced off when harvesting.

They add: “This is an enormous trauma for the plant, but grass is tough and will soon grow more roots. Until those new roots grow, your turf will only be able to access water in the top few centimetres of the soil, and won’t be able to get down to the water table.”

Turfonline recommends you water your turf daily for at least a fortnight and make sure that the water has soaked through to the soil below.

Simple maintenance jobs such as this will ensure you do not need to returf the lawn again 

If you are thinking of revamping your garden you will probably be wondering about costs and how much to returf a lawn. While not a huge expense, it's still a significant cost if you have to redo this job havin 

How often can you mow new turf?

It’s best to mow your new turf at least twice a week during late spring and early autumn and twice a week during the summer, Harry says.

Turfonline recommends that you make sure your mower blades are as sharp as they can be – here's how to sharpen lawn mower blades – and that the mower is set to its highest setting.

Their experts add: “Blunt blades just tear at the grass and do untold damage. Cutting off its leaves is like taking away its food supply. Never cut off more than one-third of the leaf, and use the grass box to collect all of the clippings.”

The next cut should be in about one week’s time. Again, be gentle and collect the clippings. After that, you can gradually reduce the length of the grass and you can mow more frequently.

If you’re asking yourself 'can I cut wet grass', it's best to give new turf sufficient time to dry off first.

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.