preparing laying turf in garden

How To Prepare Your Soil For Turfing

Preparing Ground for Turf Laying

Turfing has emerged as one of the most favoured methods for achieving a garden lawn that gives a ‘wow’ factor, whilst being low maintenance. However, to ensure that your garden retains its structure and aesthetics once the turf is in place, there are crucial preparations to be made.

In any DIY project, whether it’s wallpapering, cake decoration, or cleaning your car, the quality of the outcome depends on the preparation. Our comprehensive guide is here to help you at every step when it comes to preparing your soil and ground for laying turf. We’ll walk you through the process of how to prepare your soil for turf, how to make your lawn level and how to lay the perfect lawn with garden turf.


  1. Clear your lawn area
  2. Digging over your lawn
  3. Improve your soil
  4. Level out your lawn
  5. Create a firm surface

1. Clear your Lawn Area

To kick start the process of preparing your soil for turfing, it’s imperative to get rid of every speck of plant material and debris from the planned lawn area. This includes grass, plants, leaves, roots, and even twigs – leave nothing behind!

For smaller areas, a garden spade will be enough, while for larger spaces, you may want to consider renting a mechanical turf cutter to save time. As for your old lawn, you can either compost it or dispose of it at your nearby green waste centre – if you’re unsure how to dispose of soil, read our helpful guide.

2. Digging Over your Lawn

Using a garden fork or a mechanical rotavator, take the time to thoroughly cultivate the soil, eliminating any bricks, stones, construction debris, or other foreign objects as this can cause poor root growth with your new lawn.

When preparing your soil for turfing, make it your aim to dig down to a minimum depth of 15cm (6 inches) – and if possible, go deeper. In cases where your existing topsoil doesn’t provide sufficient loose soil at this depth, consider introducing high-quality soil, such as our Turf & Lawn Topsoil.

3. Improve your Soil

At this point, you may want to consider mixing in some soil conditioner if necessary. If your garden soil tends to be sandy and has poor water retention, mix in organic materials like compost or well-rotted horse manure. In cases of heavy clay soil prone to becoming dense and waterlogged in winter, include gravel to improve drainage and organic materials to encourage the presence of earthworms for natural aeration.

4. Level Out your Lawn

Levelling your lawn plays a crucial role in achieving a structurally sound garden. Start by using a rake to break down any significant soil clumps, creating a smooth, even surface (you’ll want to aim for a consistent texture, similar to the topping on an apple crumble).

A bumpy lawn can lead to waterlogging, uneven lawn mowing (the mower blades will catch on the sloping areas) and ultimately, it doesn’t look great either! To learn more about how to level out your lawn, read our gardener’s guide.

5. Create a Firm Surface

As part of your garden preparation for turfing, it’s time to do what’s known as the ‘gardener’s shuffle’. Put simply, it involves criss-crossing the soil, taking small, measured steps to compact every inch of it. Begin by moving in one direction, and once completed, repeat the process in the opposite direction to ensure thorough compression.

This step can be a bit tiresome if done alone, so why not bring friends and family along?

Ground Preparation for Turf – Conclusion

In wrapping up our guide on ‘How to Prepare Your Soil for Turfing,’ we hope you’ve gained valuable insights into how you can achieve a lush, green lawn without the need to get a professional gardener in!

By following this step-by-step guide, you’ll be well on your way to creating a thriving turf that will be the envy of your friends and family.

Helpful links and resources

About the Author

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The Alsoils Team

For more than three decades, Alsoils has been a trusted name in delivering superior soil, compost products and offering landscaping services. Based in Hampshire, Alsoils caters to a diverse clientele, including both homeowners and businesses. Our team are experts in all things gardening, so you can be sure you get the very best advice for topsoil, compost, manure and so much more!

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