Turf is a great way of getting a good-looking lawn fast – but it can be expensive. Depending on your project, you may need to build in the cost of topsoil and labour too. So if you’re trying to work out your budget, what’s a reasonable price for turf?
We’re going to take a look at turf prices and options to help you manage your costs. Whether your lawn is large or small, you’ll be able to get a good idea of what you can expect to spend.
Working out the area of your lawn
To calculate your turf costs, you first need to know the surface area of your new lawn. Turf is usually sold in square metres, so using metric rather than imperial measurements will be easier.
If your lawn is square or rectangular, simply measure the width and length in metres. Now multiply them together and you’ll get the surface area in square metres.
if your lawn is circular, measure the width at the widest point – that’s the diameter. Then halve the measurement to give you the radius. This is a more accurate approach than trying to guess where the centre of the lawn is.
Multiply the radius by itself, and then multiply the result by 3.14. That will give you the surface area.
The websites of some turf suppliers include calculators to do this automatically. Most work only for square or rectangular lawns, and will simply multiply together the two measurements you input.
Dealing with irregular shaped lawns
If your lawn is an irregular shape, there are two options to work out the surface area.
The first is to divide your lawn into rectangles, squares, and half or quarter circles. It’s easiest to do this by drawing the shape of your lawn on a piece of paper, then marking the smaller shapes inside.
Now measure the length and width of the square and rectangles, and work out the area of each one. (You can split that number in half for any right-angled triangles too.)
For any curved areas, treat them as half or quarter circles. Measure the diameter or radius, then work out the area as if the circle were complete. Then divide that number in two if it’s a semi-circle, and in four if it’s a quarter circle.
When you’ve worked out the area of each shape, add them together to give you a total.
Alternatively, you can draw your lawn to scale on a grid or graph paper. Measure the maximum and minimum length and width, and make each square equal to one square metre.
Then count the grid squares your lawn completely fills, and add in any that are half-full or more. That will give you a good estimate of the total area.
In all cases, add in at least 5 per cent to allow for wastage. You’ll then have the total quantity of turf you need to order. If you’ve had to do lots of sums to get that number, check them at least once! It’s easy to make a mistake and find yourself with more or less turf than you need.
A word on budget
You’re now ready to work out how much your turf will cost. Turf prices can vary considerably, as we’ll see in a moment. But before deciding how much to spend, remember that there’ll be a number of other costs in your project.
If you need to remove an old lawn, this may include the hire of a turf cutter. You can do the job without one using a spade or fork and half-moon edger – but it’s hard work. If you need to cover a large area, a turf cutter will get the job done in a fraction of the time. And it will protect your back too.
You may also want to hire a rotovator if you have a large area to dig over. As with turf cutting, it’s a job you can do with a garden fork, but it requires time and energy.
Your turf will need topsoil at least 100mm, and ideally 150mm, deep. Check whether your existing topsoil is up to the job by digging down. You’ll see a line where the darker topsoil becomes lighter subsoil. If it’s not deep enough, or it’s poor quality, you’ll need to buy more.
You’ll also need fertiliser, and depending on your soil quality, a soil improver like sharp sand or well-rotted organic matter. And you’ll need boards to kneel on as you lay your turf.
Take all this into account when pulling together your budget. And remember to check whether prices for things like topsoil include VAT and delivery. That way you won’t get any nasty surprises.
Buy good quality turf
Turf costs can vary a lot depending on the supplier and type of turf.
Don’t be tempted to skimp on very cheap turf that doesn’t have any kind of accreditation. While you may be lucky, you’re most likely to find it’s simply meadow grass, and will be full of weeds. That will mean spending more time and money getting rid of them. You may even need to relay your lawn.
Look for turf suppliers that are members of the Turfgrass Growers Association (TGA). Ask whether their turf complies with the relevant British Standard – BS3969. There’s also a standard developed by the TGA itself, which some companies prefer to use.
Some turf suppliers also guarantee products to be weed-free. Note though, that this guarantee may not apply to budget options.
When you’re choosing your turf, remember to pick a variety that will suit your lawn needs. If you want something the kids can kick a football on, there’s no point choosing an ornamental variety. You’ll only have to replace it after a few months.
And if your lawn gets some shade, choose a turf with shade-tolerant grasses. Standard turfs won’t cope with the lower light levels.
What does turf cost?
Turf costs anywhere from £2 to £7.60 per square metre, depending on the variety and your location.
But it can also vary widely, depending on how much you’re ordering. Many suppliers will reduce the cost per square metre if you’re ordering larger quantities.
If you have a small lawn, the price per square metre can be much higher. We found one online calculator that priced a single square metre of high quality, shade-tolerant turf at over £130!
That’s a big range, so if you’re trying to cost your job, try to pick a variety and supplier first. Check out their website too. Some will provide calculators that will show you how much your turf will cost.
Remember to check whether the price includes VAT and delivery. Many companies deliver from Tuesday to Friday. Some will deliver on a Saturday for an additional charge, but that can be as much as £30.
Lawn installation charges
Everything we’ve talked about so far assumes that you plan to lay your lawn yourself. But if you don’t have the time or energy to do that, there are other options.
It’s possible to get your whole project done for you. Everything from removing an old lawn to laying your new turf can be taken out of your hands – for a fee.
You can engage a landscape gardener to do the work for you. Alternatively, a number of turf suppliers offer a full installation service.
Whoever you choose, you’ll usually be able to commission them to do parts or all of the job. If you’re happy to prepare the ground yourself, you can save money by just getting them to lay the turf.
How much you’ll spend will depend on your lawn size and how much work you’re prepared to do. It will also vary depending on your location. Labour costs are usually higher in London and South-East England than in the rest of the UK.
As a very rough guide, the website job-prices.co.uk estimates that to lay a new 60 square metres lawn would cost around £1,170. That price includes all materials and labour, and is based on the costs of gardeners working in the south-east of England.
That price, though, costs the turf at just under £3 per square metre. If you’re looking for a premium product, you can expect to pay considerably more than that.
It also assumes your ground is fairly level, and that the gardeners won’t have to remove concrete or anything like that. If that’s not the case with your lawn, costs will increase.
You’re ready to draw up your budget!
We hope our guide to turf prices has helped you to draw up a realistic budget for your project. Choose your turf and supplier first, and you’ll get a much more accurate idea of costs. And remember to check whether those costs include VAT and delivery.
Preparing the ground for turf is the most time-consuming part of the process. But if you’re prepared to do it yourself, you can save a lot of money. Just remember to budget for equipment, whether hiring or buying, as well as for fertiliser and any topsoil you need.
Good luck with laying your new lawn – we hope you’re soon enjoying lazing on it!