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What's the best way to lift turf?

Last post 11-03-2009 1:32 PM by bogweevil. 11 replies.

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  • 25/09/2005 04:14 PM
    • ros
    • 25 Sep 2005
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    I have just started creating a new bed and need to remove the existing turf. I am lifting it with a spade having cut sections. This is back breaking and I wonder if there is a better way or a tool/machine that can help? Any suggestions on the best way to store for use elsewhere would be appreciated as well. Thank you.

  • 26/09/2005 04:43 PM
    • miranda
    • Oxfordshire
    • 17 Nov 2004
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    Hello, Ros. The best tool I've used to remove turf is this one below, called a turf lifter. It makes the job surprisingly quick and easy. The angle of the handle means that you get good leverage and you don't have to bend so much. The pointed blade is quite sharp, gets into corners easily and takes off a much thinner layer than a spade. I borrowed the one I used but know that you can order them from agricultural supply shops. [img]http://i7.photobucket.com/albums/y295/miranda_uk/turflifter.jpg[/img]

  • 27/09/2005 02:37 PM
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    Isn't there a mechanical tool, a bit like a rotovator but with 4 wheels and an ocsillating blade. I've seen it used on one of those DIY shows. I wonder if you can hire them ? Here's the sort of thing... http://www.tooltrade.co.uk/garden/gmtc2_misc.htm

    -- Chilli Head
  • 28/09/2005 10:46 AM
    • ros
    • 25 Sep 2005
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    Thank you both for your help. I have now found a hire shop locally that has the turf cutting machine you referred to. It'll save masses of time & energy - Thanks!

  • 27/01/2009 01:50 PM
    • Cobbler
    • Morpeth
    • 27 Jan 2009
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    Thanks. I can't find a turf spade (hand tool) online. Any links please?

  • 27/01/2009 04:33 PM
    • miranda
    • Oxfordshire
    • 17 Nov 2004
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    They're not easy to come by these days, Cobbler. I got mine from a blacksmith who was selling some things, but you can sometimes order them from agricultural supply shops.

    I had a search about and the only one I found was made by a blacksmith: http://www.stormcrowforge.co.uk - near the bottom of the gallery page. Might be expensive as it will be hand made. You could also try ebay.

  • 27/01/2009 04:36 PM
    • miranda
    • Oxfordshire
    • 17 Nov 2004
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     P.S. The photo is in the 'garden iron' section.

  • 06/02/2009 09:44 PM
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    There is a machine that has a pulsing blade. The blade goes under the sod and lifts up grass in pieces. Also there is a sod cutter tool, however, I have found that a sharp flat shovel at a 15 degree angle works just as well as anything else.  It's hard work which ever method you choose. Good exercise though.

  • 07/02/2009 02:03 PM
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    I hired a turf cutter to clear my veg patch area.   I have a few tips:

    1.  You will need someone with you to get it into the car - they are pretty hefty machines.  My local hire shop were very amused when I pushed mine home (about half a mile) as I had no-one to help at the other end.  They did however take pity on me and come and pick it up - your local shop maybe able to do this for you.  Listen carefully to their instruction talk as well - it is a bit tricky to get going with.

    2. Do it when the ground is moist (and not frozen)  I did mine the day after a lot of rain but the instructions said that you should water the area well the night before if it is dry.

    3. Try to have a helper - it is pretty heavy going.  The machine takes quite a lot of effort and then you have to roll up and stack the turfs.

     4.  The machine actually worked best for me when I was going forward more quickly - initially I was cautious and went very slowly which made it pretty tough and meant a very uneven slice into the turf.

    5.  Beware of stony ground - the machine leaps quite high when it hits something but I managed to keep it going most of the time.

    6.  Take note of how clean the machine is when you hire it.  Most places require that you clean it before returning and I hadn't really looked.  The upshot was that I spent quite a long time cleaning it and got a phone call the next day thanking me for it being in the most pristine condition they had ever seen it in!

    It did work well for me and was worth the hire charge I think - I managed to haggle them down quite a lot so be cheeky and see what you can achieve.

    Good luck!

    LH

  • 11/03/2009 10:57 AM
    • Gail
    • Oxfordshire
    • 11 Mar 2009
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    Hi.  We have got some new allotments starting in my village and we have hired a turf lifter so your tips are really useful.  How long did it take to do an area  - we only have one machine and quite a lot to do over a weekend - lots of people to roll the turf etc.

    Thanks, Gail M

  • 11/03/2009 11:27 AM
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    I did an area about 5m by 7 m in around 4 hours.  This included lifting and stacking all the turfs and quite a lot of stopping for cold drinks and to rest my arms and me!  If you had a team I think you would move much faster and with people clearing up behind it would be quite quick I think.  Also if you are clearing a big area and can keep going for long strips this will help - I was clearing a section which is surrounded by walls and with a shed on so it was quite fiddly. 

     My hire shop provided the cutter full of fuel - this would be worth checking out as having sufficient fuel stocks in will also be essential if you are going to be using it for a long time.

     I stacked the sods of earth up and covered them with a weed control membrane and then bought a load of worms to put in there to help break it down.  It's been in the pile for 6 months now and seems to be breaking down into the nice loam which was promised by everything I read!

     Good luck

  • 11/03/2009 01:32 PM
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    Remove turf?  Waste of time - I just dug it in as I go.  Once buried it won't be problem.  If you are an inexpert digger tickle it up with some glyphosate before hand.  Turf is free soil improver.

     

    Boggy

    Beware the bat-eared bogweevil