If you have been looking to order a new lawn, you’ve probably heard that it needs to be laid immediately.
The simple answer is that turf is a living product, and it’s vulnerable in the time between being cut and finding its new home.
One of the most common and serious issues encountered when laying turf is called “pallet burn”.
What is pallet burn?
Pallet burn is a phenomenon that occurs when cut turf has been left too long before being laid.
When turf slabs are stacked on top of each other in a hot and humid location or for long periods of time, heat begins to build from the centre of the pallet and spreads outwards.
This means the turf will begin to combust. This overheating results in disappointing and permanent brown semi-circular burn marks on your new turf slabs.
How long can I wait until my turf begins to burn?
The speed at which turf burns varies based on when it was cut, the heat and humidity of the outside environment, and the moisture in the soil.
Pallet burn is an issue that can happen at all times of the year but becomes exponentially more likely in Queensland summers.
Indeed, on hot days, pallet burn can occur even within the first 24 hours of turf being cut! At these times of year, your new turf really needs to be laid on the same day it is received. Of course, the sooner you get the turf laid, the better.
Note: Watering stacked turf to keep it cool only increases the moisture in the soil. This method does not delay pallet burn!
Are there any solutions?
Unfortunately, once turf has been burned, it will not be able to recover no matter how much care and loving attention you give it.
If pallet burn is caught early, the best way to fix the problem is to pull up the affected slabs before the roots attach and replace them. If you don’t need your lawn looking perfect straight away, the surrounding turf will eventually fill in the gap, but this can take time. The speed and effectiveness of this method will be different for each variety of turf.
Of course, the best fix for pallet burn is to prevent it from happening in the first place.
How to prevent pallet burn
The best way to prevent pallet burn is to be prepared for your new turf!
Before receiving your turf order, check that you have…
It’s best to fully prepare your site, this includes clearing it of all rocks and debris and loosening or bringing in approximately 100mm of topsoil. We recommend doing the preparation, at the least, the day before you plan to lay your turf.
Planned for immediate installation
Organise for someone to be available to receive the turf and lay it immediately or, at the least, on the same day it’s delivered or picked up.
If you cannot lay your turf immediately and need to leave it for a few hours (make sure it’s no more than 24 hours), it is best practice to:
- Clear a shaded area to keep your turf in to reduce its absorption of heat
- Split up the stacks of turf so heat can escape
Our turf is harvested fresh early in the morning when it is cooler, so it stays cooler for longer.
The bottom line
Some extra preparation and effective planning go a long way when you lay your turf. We recommend planning your turf delivery or collection so that you can prepare your site for the turf at least the day prior to installation, and so you can be available to lay it immediately.