What makes May such a good month for turfing?
We’re often asked “what is the best time to lay turf?” Well, turf can be laid at any time of year but the month of May certainly offers the ideal weather conditions for laying a lawn from turf. Here’s why.
Rapid root growth makes for faster establishment
Usually by May, even if the air temperature is sometimes on the chilly side, the soil has warmed up beautifully. Older farmers and gardeners claim that if you can drop your trousers and sit comfortably on the soil, it’s OK to start planting. It’s up to you whether you try it or not.
Even a small lawn can look so much better when it's refreshed with new turf.
When the soil is warm and moist and the days are longer, plants grow fast. Not only the leaves, but the roots too. When you lay new turf you want it to root into your soil as quickly as possible. The month of May provides the perfect conditions for that to happen.
Longer days are better for the plants
Green plants harness energy from the sun to make their own food. The more daylight hours there are in a 24 hour period, the more food they can make and the quicker and stronger they grow.
Turf laid in May will be well established, healthy and vibrant well before summer truly arrives. You’ll really be able to enjoy your lawn during the warmer weather.
Soil preparation is simpler than in winter
The key to a really beautiful lawn lies in the soil preparation. We’re lucky in Dorset to have some beautiful soil. However, when it’s soggy in winter or super-dry in summer, it can be a little more challenging to prepare a bed for turfing.
Soil preparation is the most important part of turf laying. Wimborne Turf's suppy and lay team have the correct machinery to tackle a large lawn like this one. When the soil is friable the job is much easier. This garden will be raked and levelled before fresh turf is delivered and laid.
Normally in late spring and early summer, soil is at just the right consistency to work with easily. It makes the preparation quicker and less stressful.
Turf rolls are lighter than in winter
Turf is grown outdoors in fields. It’s exposed to all weathers all year round. In winter, when the soil is saturated, turf is heavier. And when it’s heavier, it can also be harder to handle.
As winter subsides, turf rolls generally become lighter, easier to carry and easier to manoeuvre. In fact, it’s a joy to work with.
Occasional rainfall helps with irrigation
I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep newly laid turf well-watered until it’s really well established. It will not survive if it’s allowed to dry out. In high summer, keeping turf and the soil beneath it wet enough to support root growth is extra challenging. Long hot days mean that water evaporates quickly from the soil and the plants don’t get to benefit from it.
Fresh turf smells sweet and looks beautiful but quality deteriorates quickly in warm weather. Always lay turf on the same day as delivery and once it's laid, make sure you keep it well watered until it has established.
A typical English spring has lots of rainy days and the rain will help to water your new turf. Moist air will also reduce the risk of water loss through evaporation. Don’t get complacent about turf watering though.
A rain shower might not supply quite enough water, so check the soil before you decide not to switch the sprinkler on.
Disadvantages of turfing in May
I can only think of one possible disadvantage of laying turf in May and that is a very slight risk of sod heating.
Sod heating occurs when turf is left rolled up for a long time in warm weather. Basically, the moisture inside the roll and the lack of ventilation for the grass means that it cooks itself.
The risk of sod heating is far greater in summer than it is in spring but you should be aware and take measures to avoid it.
Avoid sod heating buy buying your turf from a local grower – so that it spends less time in transit – and laying your turf as soon as it arrives.
May is a glorious month for completing outdoor projects. It’s neither too hot nor too cold. The days are lovely and long and most of the time it’s a joy to be outdoors.
- Teresa Flower