Success with Pictorial Turf

A how to guide with everything you need to know to achieve long-lasting and visually interesting displays using Pictorial Meadows turf
Contents

Availability and Ordering

Check with our sales team as to current availability as much of our turf is pre-ordered. Pictorial Turf can be supplied all year round and apart from when heavy frost or snow and flooding is forecast can be lifted from our fields for transport. We maintain very little stock over the summer period.

Pictorial Turf can be laid throughout the year, but the main season is from September to April with autumn and early winter being the ideal time. This is because soil conditions at this stage are perfect for root growth - allowing the meadow to really get established before the cold weather arrives. In spring it is then well rooted, flowers emerge early on and the meadow requires no irrigation, even in summer droughts.


This is a very flexible product, but it should not be laid on frozen or waterlogged winter soils - and also be prepared to provide irrigation if needed during extremely hot weather from late spring onwards.

All our Pictorial Turf mixes are designed to be adaptable to quite a wide range of soil types, but soils and location do make a difference to how each of the meadows will evolve and change over time. Do check the mix descriptors so that you can best match a mix to your own location.

Ground Preparation

Whatever scale you are working on, it is important to get a clean area of ground to lay the turf onto. Special attention should be made to remove all perennial weeds including all grass. An annual weed seed bank is however far less of a problem with Pictorial Turf than any other product making success far easier to achieve.

Once weed and vegetation free then the ground needs very light cultivating, but keep this cultivation as shallow as you can, just enough to be able to rake the soil and get a surface texture that is level and looks a bit like breadcrumbs. On sites where herbicide has been used to kill surface vegetation, no cultivation is needed at all therefore causing less damage to soil fauna. 

Instead, the dead vegetation can be mown off very closely and the and Pictorial Turf can be laid directly over the ground surface. This is especially effective technique when trying to establish meadow plantings on banks because of the challenge they present.

Receiving the Turf

Unlike seed Pictorial Turf is a fresh living product and receipt must be carefully planned. The turf is lifted the day before delivery to ensure it arrives fresh and should be laid on the same day as delivery.

The 1200mm x 600mm turves are laid side by side (flat) with up to 50m² on standard pallets for delivery. The plants within the turf have a full root system when lifted, which enables the meadow to establish quickly once laid onto bare ground. They are rooted into a biodegradable mat which makes handling easier and provides a surface weed suppressant mulch throughout establishment. Delivery is usually made Tuesday to Saturday. Where possible, we will always aim for a pre-10am delivery for England will ensure there is enough time for laying.

The standard delivery lorry has a tail-lift and a pallet truck for offloading, which is for hard standing surfaces only. The driver will not be able to use the pallet truck over rough or unsealed surfaces. Most deliveries are carried out with the use of large articulated trucks, if access to your delivery site is limited and you require a smaller vehicle, you must let the sales team know at the point of ordering.

Please also specify at the time of pricing if a forklift Moffatt is required to move the pallets from the vehicle unloading area to the site via hard standing only.

Laying

Water the soil just before laying. This really helps the turf roots to start growing into the ground soil.

To make the job easier and avoid double handling, try and get the turf pallets as close as possible to the laying area. If it is not going to be laid immediately turf must be kept moist until it is laid. To gain access to the turves the pallet wrapping will need to be removed and disposed of.

The turves can then easily be lifted individually by hand and laid on the prepared site. Do not expect the same dense sward that you would find with conventional grass turf – gaps are critical for correct structure. Expect a few turves to be very loose – handle with care and avoid using these on the edges.

It is best to start by laying out an area with whole turves around the perimeter and infill the shape in straight lines with offset joints like a flat brick wall. Where cutting is required this can be easily done by folding back the turf and using a sharp knife with a Stanley type blade to cut from behind then simply lay back flat and pull apart. Try not to waste any off cuts as they all contain many valuable plants and are all usable to fill in gaps during laying.

If working on a slope the turf should be pegged to the bank using biodegradable pegs or similar with a minimum of 3 pegs per turf – which we can supply.

On completion the turves should then be well soaked through immediately after laying. Summer establishment would require additional irrigation following laying, but an autumn/winter laying would only require irrigation on the day of laying.

Aftercare

Pictorial Turf requires the least aftercare of all our meadow solutions but as always, timely interventions will help keep your meadow looking good for years to come.

Every effort is made to ensure your Pictorial Turf arrives with as little weed as possible but there are those that can survive or find opportunities after the meadow has been laid. Well established meadows with good species composition are very resistant to invasion where any weed content should be minimal and remain at an easily manageable level. Many weed types will simply get out competed by the meadow or as with most annual weeds will not survive the cutting process. 

It is the more competitive perennial broadleaf weeds which we need to look out for such as docks, thistles, bindweed, rank grass, nettles and brambles and if left unchecked these can take a hold. Therefore, every spring around May and again in mid-summer it is worth looking over the meadow and removing either by manually cutting or pulling or by careful very targeted application of an approved selective herbicide.

The one task common to all perennial meadow schemes is an end of season cut and collect. This controls weed invasion including woody plants. It also promotes fresh basal shooting of desirable plant species as well as helping to continually lower soil fertility. The cut and collect can take place any time after flowering has finished and the meadow has become visually unacceptable. This normally means from November through to early February. 

Leaving seed heads and stalks throughout the winter provides a better wildlife habitat for winter birds, small mammals and insects. The dead stems can also look attractive especially with a frost. By early February all the flower stalks have also dried out making removal and disposal a much easier task. One other significant benefit is that by keeping a canopy of old flower stalks over the meadow, bare soil is less open to weed invasion. Late winter is the latest the meadow should be cut though to make way for new growth to appear in early spring.

Pictorial Turf Top Tips

Really check your measurements when ordering your turf, and then check again. You don’t want to waste any turf by having far too much or of course finding you have underestimated and can’t finish laying it. Don’t forget our team is there to help you get this right so don’t hesitate to get in touch with them.

Get everything well prepared in advance. When the turf arrives, it needs laying as soon as possible. But what happens if the turf has arrived and there is a delay, or the ground has frozen, or the rain just won’t stop? It does happen and it doesn’t need to be a total disaster! Take the time to lift the turf off the pallet and spread it out somewhere on the ground, your driveway or hard standing area and keep well-watered. If light, air and moisture are kept supplied, delays can be managed successfully.

Want to create different effects and repeat flowering? Don’t be afraid to introduce mid-season mowing along the edges or even right through the middle of your meadow. Both late April and early June ‘differential’ cuts work well. The cut rejuvenates the meadow resulting in lovely fresh, neat foliage and usually prompts a second flush of later flowering. Introducing different heights also encourages certain species to find just the perfect spot to thrive.

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