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600sqm turf on chalky "fluffy" ground

Hey all,


I looked at a job last week where the client has just had a large extenstion done and the dig out was spread over his large garden. He now wants it returfed but all the soil is very loose and "fluffy" as in if you step on it your foot sinks around 4" - 6". On top of that it seems fairly chalky, luckly no clay it seems pretty good soil apart from the chalk. The area is around 600 sqm.

So the issues I see are:

1) We need to level and compact the whole area. I was thinking large screed rails with 3 or 4 guys for the leveling. I will be getting a mini dumper and mini digger for moving the top soil around.

But with the compaction uses your feet/ heels like you would on a normal lawn would take forever. Would you use a normal hand roller or maybe a few of them? as I assume where the soil is so "fluffy" any large roller would just get stuck? Anyone have any ideas?

2) How much new top soil should I use and should I be adding some sort of orginic feed/ fertilser due to the chalk content to give the new turf a real fighting chance. As I really dont want to lay 600 sqm for it to die on me! 

Any advice would be great as always.


Thanks in advance.







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  • PRO

    Hi Dan


    if your bringing in a digger and dumper with compitant operators then the fluffy surface will not be an issue as you will compact with the machinery anyway, you will most likley only need a standard roller for light compaction once you have levels right but ensure the area is not turned into an off road track by spinning the diggers tracks 360 etc etc, you might not even need a dumper if the digger is 1.8 ton or over as you will screed an area very quickly with this on a loading bucket,

    also for the lawn i would look for the grass mixes which suit the soil type thats already there as any changes with organic matter etc will only be short fix's and would require a far larger upkeep to the lawn once done to try and keep the balance, planting to the areas natural soil type is always prefered as you can utilise less materials trying to change it.

    if the soil thats there is already fine and good top soil then do you need to bring in much more ? depending on how the levels work out for you, you might only need a small 4 - 5 tons top up to bed the seed / turf  but its a hard call not knowing or seeing what it is your dealing with.

    link is a grass mix in seed form but again i would try and find any local suppliers who might be growing on the same soil already for the turf



    EG6 - 100% Grass Mixture for Chalk & Limestone Soils | 100% meadow grass mixtures | Meadow and Gras…
    • Thanks for the info Neil.

      Yes that was my worry that the machinary would just make the soil into a mud pit. But as you say if your careful and with no rain it should be ok.


      As for a compitant operator.. that would be me. But not sure how compitant I am tbh. I have used them a few times but not on this scale and not really to grade.

      Thanks for the link for the seed. I have had spent an hour this evening looking around the internet for suppliers of turf that is suitable for chalky soil but I am coming up blank..

      I have spoken to the client and he is set on turf and not seed. But I am worried that the soil wont be good enough. As if it dies that around £2,500 just in turf. I wouldnt be able to afford to pay for that out of my own pocket. Would you maybe put some clause in the quotation that if it dies I am not responsible?

      Just worried its a massive job and if it goes wrong I will be in trouble.

      EG6 - 100% Grass Mixture for Chalk & Limestone Soils | 100% meadow grass mixtures | Meadow and Gras…
  • "if your bringing in a digger and dumper with compitant operators then the fluffy surface will not be an issue as you will compact with the machinery anyway",

    I'm no expert in these things but won't the compaction be very uneven with areas compacted and bits missed?  When I used to work for the council, we used to have these massive petrol rollers for doing hockey pitches....... you rode the thing, had huge 6' wide rollers front and back + the whole thing must have been about a ton.  

  • PRO

    I’ve seen ground workers laying turf on new housing sites after they went across the ground with a Whacker then spread an inch or so of top soil or sand across to level it and provide a bed for the turf.

    If you think that sounds rough one day Eddie and the lads ran out of sand and top soil, so they used Type 1 stone and put the Whacker back across it :-)

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