How To Lay Turf in Hot Weather – Avoid Sod Heating and Get The Lovely Lawn You Dream Of

We’re often asked “when is the best time to lay turf?”  Turf can be laid at any time of year but in hot weather, you need to take extra care.  Read more in this blog.

When it’s hot outside, all living things need to take care of themselves.  Humans do, pets do, and so do plants.  Whilst most well established plants like trees or older lawns have their own coping mechanisms for heat; newly planted bedding plants, turf or wildflower mats do need extra nurturing if they are to look their best.  Here’s how to get best results when laying turf in hot weather.

How to Lay Turf

Laying turf is a quick and easy way to achieve your ideal lawn.  If you’ve not done it before, here’s a video from our sister-company to remind you how it’s done.

Laying Turf on a Hot Day

If the weather is going to be warm, there are a few extra precautions you need to take if you want your lawn to be successful.

Prepare in advance

Even though the British Climate is unpredictable, we usually know that June, July, August and sometimes September bring spells of hot weather.

Before you even order your turf, make sure that the soil is all prepared and that you have all the tools and watering equipment you need.

Recruit plenty of helpers

When your turf arrives you will need to lay it immediately – no faffing!  And you will need to work fast.  This is one of those times when many hands make light work.  Aim to have at least 3 pairs of hands on site ready to receive the delivery.  The bigger the lawn you’re laying, the more people you should have to help.

Only order as much turf as you can lay in 8 hours

It’s better to have 2 or 3 deliveries of fresh turf over the course of several days, than it is to have lots of turf sitting on pallets going rotten.

turf laid in hot weather
This turf was laid on the hottest day (so far) of 2017. Temperatures in London reached 34 degrees that day but our customer was prepared and as you can see, made a fantastic job of creating a new lawn.

Look after yourselves

People with heatstroke aren’t very good at laying turf quickly.  Make sure you have plenty of sunscreen, are wearing a hat, have enough to eat and most importantly, keep yourselves well hydrated.

Do not delay – lay your turf straight away

Any delay in getting your turf unrolled and installed could result in sod heating.  Sod heating is common in hot weather.  At best it makes for a temporarily ugly lawn, at worst, it will kill every blade of your new grass so don’t risk it.

As soon as the lorry arrives with your turf on board, start unstacking the pallet.   Make small piles of turf on the prepared soil.

The turves that have been in the middle of the pallet will be the quickest to deteriorate.   Lay them first.

Don’t hold back with watering

Water each section of turfing as soon as it has been laid.  You might get wet knees or muddy hands but that doesn’t matter.  You’re not made of sugar and you won’t dissolve if you get a bit damp.

Some Important “Do’s and Don’ts” for Laying Turf in Hot Weather

Never ever water rolled up turf.  The inside of the roll will get all hot and steamy – like a sauna – and the plants will die.

Likewise, never cover rolled turf with a sheet or a tarpaulin.  Good ventilation is essential if you want to avoid sod heating.  (and trust me, you DO want to avoid sod heating)

Make sure the water soaks right through the turf and into the top 15cm of soil.   Water again before you go to bed.  If the turf and the soil beneath it are dry when you wake up in the morning – get the hose out and soak them again.  This turf must NOT dry out.

If you think your turf has been affected by Sod heating

Once turf starts to warm up, it will get very hot very quickly.  Whatever you do, don’t leave the turf on the pallet hoping it will cool down.

A severe case of heat stress in turf. The grass has blackened and become slimy and unsightly

If it feels hot to the touch, put gloves on, break the pallet down into smaller stacks and call your supplier immediately.   If it’s out of office hours you may end up leaving a message on an ansaphone but at least your concerns will be recorded.

Bear in mind that should your turf not establish well, it’s for you to prove to your supplier that you DID lay it within 8 hours of delivery.   Take pictures (preferably with the date and time on them if you’re camera lets you do that) and email them immediately.  You should find the email address on your delivery paperwork.

If, when you have laid your turf it looks yellow, it’s probably OK.  Take pictures anyway and email them to your supplier.   Keep watering it at least once a day, never ever let it dry out and it should recover.

If when you are laying your turf it feels warm, smells horrible (it should smell fresh – like damp soil), is very discoloured or just seems “wrong”.  Contact your supplier immediately and ask for their advice.  At the very least you should unroll each piece and expose the plant layer to the light.  Water it and see what happens.  You can always lay it properly the next day.  Just don’t leave it rolled up or the situation will worsen – and quickly.

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