Laying turf in your garden is a quick way to transform the look of a tired, unloved space. Unlike grass seed, turf gives an immediate overhaul – but, as with most quick fixes, comes with a higher price tag.
However, there are ways you can make re-turfing your garden work on a budget. This article will explain everything you need to know about saving money – while giving your garden a makeover.
We’ll be covering:
- How much grass turf costs
- What affects the cost of turf
- How you can save money on new turf for your garden
- How to choose the best turf for your garden
- What’s involved in laying turf
- How to find a professional to lay turf
Keep reading to find out how to turf your garden in the most cost-effective way.
How Much Does Grass Turf Cost?
The price of grass turf varies based on quality. Depending on your desired use – be that a lawn for children to play football on, or a space to relax in after work with a glass of wine – the type of turf you’ll need will differ.
Below is a table of prices based on budget turf:
|SIZE||TURF COST PER SQUARE METRE||TOPSOIL QUANTITY AND COST PER BULK BAG||LABOUR COSTS PER DAY||TIME REQUIRED||TOTAL ESTIMATED COST|
|Small Garden (50 square metres)||£2.80 to £6.40||10 bulk bags @ £84 to £95 per bag||£100 to £200||2 days||£1,180 to £1,630|
|Medium Garden (75 square metres)||£2.80 to £6.40||15 bulk bags @ £84 to £95 per bag||£100 to £200||3 days||£1,770 to £2,505|
|Large Garden (125 square metres)||£2.80 to £6.40||25 bulk bags @ £84 to £95 per bag||£100 to £200||4 days||£2,850 to £3,975|
Note: prices include VAT on materials, 5 per cent wastage, and delivery to London. Estimates are based on the cost of budget, hardwearing, and premium (or ornamental) turf. Topsoil estimates are based on a 15-centimetre-deep layer of topsoil from 750-litre bulk bags. Actual costs may vary according to your choice of materials, supplier, and location.
A small garden is typically measured as something around 50 square metres in size. A good way of maximising the space you have is turfing the area, which will give you a nice, even lawn ready for children and pets to run around.
To complete the garden, your turf will be between £2.80 to £6.40 per square metre, and you’ll also need 10 bulk bags of topsoil to complete your job, which is around £95 per bag. When you add on two days’ worth of labour time at £100 to £200 per day, your total for supplies and labour will come in at between £1,180 to £1,630.
Moving up the size scale, a medium garden is classed as one of around 75 square metres. With a garden of this size, you’re able to mix both turf and patio if you wish, giving a useful dual-purpose space for entertaining and relaxing.
Your turf will be £2.80 to £6.40 depending on the grade of turf you opt for, and you’ll need 15 bags of topsoil. Adding on the same labour charges but for three days this time, you’re looking at a final price of £1,170 to £2,505 for supplies and labour.
Finally, we’ll discuss the fees for a large garden of around 125 square metres. In a garden this vast, the opportunities are practically endless when it comes to your landscaping, but adding in some turf is always a good idea as it’s somewhere to play and relax, and even workout when the sun is shining.
You’ll need 25 bulk bags of topsoil for this, and the labour time will be four days for completion. The final cost for supplies and labour will be somewhere between £2,850 and £3,975.
The more turf you order, the lower the cost per square metre, as many suppliers offer discounts based on volume. This is great to know if you’re in two minds about covering a slightly larger space.
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What Affects the Cost of Turf?
A few factors affect the cost of turf – which means there are a few ways to reduce the overall cost of your garden renovation.
First and foremost, the size of your garden will directly impact the cost of turf needed to cover it. The larger space, the more turf you’ll need to cover it.
But, a large garden doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be more expensive – keep reading to find out our suggestions for reducing costs on big gardens.
Turf will be delivered in rectangular turves, making gardens with straight edges both easier to lay and more cost-effective as there’ll be less wastage than if you were cutting a curved design.
Quality of Turf
As we’ve mentioned, the quality of the turf will greatly affect the price of your garden makeover. The main types of turf are:
- Premium or ornamental
- Meadow or wildflower.
Below is a table detailing the differing prices for turf, from budget through to premium:
|TURF TYPE||SMALL GARDEN (50 SQUARE METRES)||MEDIUM GARDEN (75 SQUARE METRES)||LARGE GARDEN (125 SQUARE METRES)|
|Budget turf||£150 to £275||£200 to £350||£390 to £450|
|Hardwearing turf||£175 to £300||£220 to £380||£400 to £530|
|Premium or ornamental turf||£180 to £320||£240 to £400||£420 to £740|
|Meadow or wildflower turf||£880 to £1,100||£1,200 to £1,500||£2,100 to £2,500|
Note: Prices include VAT, 5% wastage, and delivery to London. Actual costs may vary according to your choice of materials, supplier, and location.
Figuring out the type of turf you want can take time, but it’s worth the investment to cut down on price per square metre by going for a more cost-effective option, suited to your garden’s needs.
For most family gardens, a budget turf is a great option as it’s hard-wearing and fairly low-maintenance at around £200 to £350 for a medium-sized garden of 75 square metres.
You may want something freer, which is where wildflower or meadow grass can be a perfect choice. It does carry a higher price point at £1,200 to £1,500 for a medium-sized garden of 75 square metres, and might not be to everyone’s taste, but it is a lovely addition to your outdoor space and can help to promote good biodiversity in your garden.
An inescapable cost, before laying your turf you need to make sure there are at least 15 centimetres of good quality topsoil for the turves to root into.
An easy way to tell if your soil is of a good standard is to do a visual check – if it’s deep brown and has small stones you’ve got a good base.
If your soil is ashy, sandy and has a lot of small stones in it, you’ll need to do some preparation work to make the space habitable for turf, potentially using more topsoil.
Once your turf is down, fertiliser must be applied every four to six weeks during spring, summer and early autumn to give the turves the nutrients they need to bed.
Less expensive in monetary value, but high in time is ensuring your new turf is well watered.
It’s suggested you water the grass twice a day for the first week, two to three times a week during weeks two and three, then finally dropping down to once a week during weeks four to six, early in the morning and evening, and not at midday.
Preparing your garden before laying turf might require you to hire a skip.
You’ll need to scrape away the existing lawn and remove all stones and soil clods from the area. The soil then needs to be compacted into a perfectly flat, stable foundation, which often requires hiring a roller.
How Can I Save Money on New Turf for My Garden?
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One of the easiest ways to keep costs down is to do the work yourself.
Laying grass is simple, and is similar to laying carpet. All you have to do is roll out the strips of turf, butt them together firmly, and trim off anything that overhangs your desired lawn shape.
If you can’t stretch your budget to lay a lawn on the entirety of your space, consider increasing the size of your flowerbeds. Flowerbeds will bulk out the edges of your garden, making a smaller area for turf – and will add a pop of colour when in bloom.
Similarly, adding in decking, an area of gravel or a patio to connect your backdoor to your grass is a good option to give an area for entertaining. Not only will it keep your re-turfing costs down, but you won’t have so much mowing, either!
Squares and rectangles don’t require as much foresight as more organic shapes like ovals or circles, helping to reduce time spent on labour and the cost of the turf itself. As turves come in rectangular shapes, anything with a curve will naturally leave you with cut-offs and discarded pieces, which can be wasteful if covering a large area.
Buying in bulk can keep things cheap, so make sure you get all your grass in one go, rather than doing a little at a time. This method pays off if you’re re-turfing both your back and front garden at the same time.
A common mistake is to order too much grass and end up with excess that has to be thrown away. If you don’t measure correctly, you’ll end up paying for grass that ends up on the compost heap.
If you’ve decided to opt for a simple shape, such as a square, measuring and calculating the amount of turf you’ll need is relatively simple.
If you have a more organic shape, the process becomes harder. One of the simplest ways to calculate these areas is to add an imaginary box around the shape and use those measurements.
Grass seeding is also a good option to top up your existing lawn instead of having a brand new set of turf laid down. If you just have a few poor patches, this can be a great way to save a substantial amount of money and time, as you can just sprinkle the seed on the necessary areas of lawn.
Pay more attention to the especially sparse areas to help those the most. Grass seed can cost as little as £6, making it a great option for those on a tight budget.
How Do I Choose the Best Turf for My Garden?
The first thing to consider when choosing the type of turf for your garden is your intended use for the space itself. If you have children who like to play football or pets who like to run around, you’ll want a hard-wearing turf, and nothing decorative.
|Budget Turf||An economical option for family gardens, robust for average levels of use||Not as high-quality as other options, lower-grade quality of turf|
|Hardwearing Turf||Great for high-wear from children, pets and sports||More expensive than budget turf|
|Premium/Ornamental Turf||Smart appearance which is hard to get with cheaper turfs, good for those wanting to spend a lot of time outside||Requires high maintenance, with some needing professional maintenance|
|Meadow Turf||Beautiful appearance, fostering biodiversity and a great place for bees to roam, low maintenance||More expensive than budget turf, might not be popular with all homeowners|
Budget turf is great for homeowners just wanting a simple lawn with little maintenance, perfect for light games and playing with children and pets. It might not be the best if you’re after something really hard-wearing, which is where hardwearing turf comes in.
Hardwearing turf, by its nature, is a lot stronger than budget turf, making it great for sports without compromising the appearance of the turf. As a result, it’s more expensive than the budget option, so should only be chosen if necessary for your situation.
Moving up the price scale again, premium/ornamental turf carries the highest price point, giving a truly pedicured finish. It does require regular maintenance, and in some cases, professional maintenance is needed to keep the appearance up.
Finally, wildflower/meadow turf is great for homeowners wanting to foster biodiversity and local wildlife. It doesn’t need mowing, and gives a beautiful appearance, but it might not be to everyone’s taste so it’s something to bear in mind especially if you’re looking to sell your house soon.
What’s Involved in Laying Turf?
First, choose your type of turf based on your garden’s space and your needs (a family space; an entertaining space; a hard-wearing space).
Measure the area, accounting for 5% contingency caused by cutting turves into different shapes.
The underlying ground should be prepared by digging out weeds and removing large stones.
Apply fertiliser, and spread topsoil ready for the turves to root into, choosing general-purpose or premium over an economy where possible. Once this is complete, level the topsoil.
Lay the turf by staggering each piece like brickwork, avoiding any gaps. If you need to extend a piece of turf by using an offcut, always lay the offcut in between the two larger pieces of turf to ensure the smaller piece doesn’t die.
Water thoroughly and don’t walk on the grass for two to three weeks. Use wooden planks if you can’t avoid it, as this will more evenly distribute the weight – but don’t leave the planks on the grass.
Mow once the turf is firmly rooted into the topsoil — if you gently tug at a part of the turf, it should stay stuck to the ground. If it lifts, the roots aren’t strong enough and you should wait before mowing.
Time is of the essence when laying turf, and it’s ideal to lay the turves on the same day they’re delivered to you to keep the grass alive and to give it the best chance of survival. If you can’t lay on the same day, roll out the turves so they can still get sunlight as a lack of this kills cut grass, and lay it as soon as you can the following day.
How Do I Find and Hire Someone to Lay Turf?
Finding the right landscaper can be challenging. At HouseholdQuotes, we can connect you to landscapers in your area.
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As with most household jobs, it’s always best to get recommendations from family, friends and neighbours for workmen they’ve recently used. This will ensure you get a trusted professional, who someone is willing to stake their reputation.
If you’re having a complex pattern laid or are using premium turf and want to ensure it is handled with expert care, search databases like the Association of Professional Landscapers(APL) or the British Association of Landscape Industries(BALI) to find your workmen can be a great option.
The APL has a rigorous selection process that requires all members to be inspected annually to ensure their work is of the highest quality possible while complying with health and safety law, and with up-to-date insurance.
BALI similarly ensures the highest standard from garden designers and landscape contractors, as well as suppliers, who are vetted against standards including workmanship, skill, and health and safety compliance.
Ensuring the Professional Is the Right Fit
As with any household job, you must ask specific questions while getting quotes and booking your job to ensure there are no nasty surprises to cost you extra than planned.
Asking for a written quote is important so you have a physical copy of terms you can refer back to. It’s all well and good if someone quotes you verbally over the phone, but it’s best practice to ask for a written quote to have as evidence of your agreement.
Like any job, asking for a tradesman’s experience is an important step. Have they tackled similar projects to yours before? Are they experts in premium turf or in laying meadow-grade? It’s important to find out these things before you book someone in to ensure you’ve got the right alignment of your needs and their skills.
Similarly, asking for references is a great move. If the recommendation isn’t coming from word of mouth from a friend or neighbour, asking to see references and examples of their previous work is essential to see if they live up to your expectations – or, if their claims are just that: claims.
As with anyone hired through APL or BALI, they will come with their health and safety insurance, but it’s best to check the credentials of anyone not hired through those databases to make sure the right compliancy is in place in the event an accident happens while working on your garden, to ensure you’re not culpable to cover any damages.
Finally, and easily forgotten – asking if rubbish removal is included. It can be overlooked as a by-product of what you want to be done in your garden, but it’s good to ask this question in the first instance.
If skip hire and removal is included in your quote, this will save you from the hard labour of removing old turf and debris yourself; but it’s something you can look to save on if you’re not afraid of some heavy lifting.
Re-turfing your garden can seem like an expensive job, but by making savvy shape choices, increasing the size of your flowerbeds or opting to lay the turves yourself, you can make a garden makeover work on a budget.
Here’s our final checklist to make sure everything is taken care of when completing your job:
- Choose your type of turf depending on the size of your space and your intended use
- Settle on the design of your garden that fits your budget (choosing straight lines instead of curves, or allowing for larger flowerbeds to cut down the cost of turf)
- Measure the area you want the turf to be laid, taking into consideration any organic shapes and adding a 5% contingency onto the amount in case of errors
- Gather quotes if using a professional, asking key questions (waste removal, experience, references, insurance), using
- Prepare the ground by removing old turf, large stones and weeds
- Laying fertiliser and at least 15 centimetres of topsoil, compacted down
- Lay the turf like brickwork, butting edges together and firmly pressing them until the joins are invisible
- Water, and then avoid walking on the grass for 2 to 3 weeks
- Mow the grass once it’s firmly rooted, checking by pulling the strands.
Use HouseholdQuotes to find local landscapers and potentially save money on your new turf project.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How Do I Calculate How Much Turf I Need?
The easiest way to do this is to use an online calculator, like Turfonline, which explains how to calculate turf requirements, including unusually shaped gardens which may be hard to figure out on your own.
What Is the Best Time of Year to Lay Turf?
It’s best to lay turf in mid-autumn and late winter where possible. Laying in hot seasons can cause the topsoil to dry out and can lead to your grass dying before it’s been properly rooted – and repeated watering during dry spells can have adverse reactions on your new lawn.
Why Are There Mushrooms Growing on My New Lawn?
The appearance of fungi on new lawns isn’t uncommon. More often than not, they’ll appear in warm, humid conditions, and will normally disappear once weather conditions change and the climate becomes cooler.
My New Turf Is Turning Brown. Should I Worry?
Brown grass can happen for several reasons. It’s part of the natural life cycle, but it can also indicate dead grass. The way to tell if this has happened is to pull on some strands – if they come away with ease, your grass has died.
Fixing this isn’t hard. Using fertiliser, you can re-stimulate the growth.
What Are the Alternatives to Grass Turf?
Using grass seed is a much cheaper alternative to laying turf – but, with the lower price comes a higher maintenance bill. Sowing can only be done in spring or early autumn and can take a little more preparation than laying turves.
But, if you don’t want the upkeep of live grass, but want the look of it, artificial grass is an option. Coming in a variety of grades much like natural grass, you can pick a length, texture and colour to suit your wants.
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