Depending on the initial state of the site, you will need to work through the following tasks to prepare for planting.
Make sure all you planning and homework has been undertaken. This includes species selection, variety selection, calculating your area and determining the quantity of turf needed. Turf can either be delivered and some suppliers offer farm pick-up. Speak with the turf supplier to make sure they have stock ready and can deliver or provide you with the turf when you would like it.
Spray any existing grass and weeds using glyphosate (Roundup® or equivalent product) as per label recommendations. Wait a mimimum 7 days to ensure that the chemical has been absorbed and translocated through the plants to achieve a suitable kill. If is desirable that a second application of grass and weed killer be applied and ground preparation be undertaken 14 days after the first herbicide treatment.
Remove any construction debris (scraps of timber, gravel, pieces of concrete and mortar, bricks, etc.), rocks and surface tree roots.
If you are a Queensland resident, be on the lookout for Red Imported Fire Ants. Contact Biosecurity QLD if you think you have found fire ants, by calling 13 25 23.
Check the physical condition of the soil and surface contours of the ground. If a lot of effort is required to push a screwdriver into the ground, the soil probably has a high clay content and may be compacted. Water moves very slowly through clay soils, hence the need to eliminate any low spots here where water might pond. Compaction is often caused by heavy soil-moving equipment and/or machinery, vehicles etc which restricts root development of grass planted above the compacted layer. You should also identify any low, wet spots that need to be drained properly.
Gypsum or lime soil amendment may be added if required. Gypsum is used to improve soil structure, drainage in clay soils and displace excess sodium from the soil. Lime should be used on acid soils that are low in calcium. Lime also corrects acidity by raising the soil pH. Refer to the fertiliser page for further information.
(If possible) rotary hoe the ground to incorporate the existing dead grass material, organics and any soil amendments.
Shape the ground to provide adequate surface water run-off and drainage, leaving the soil firm with no depressions or rough areas. Steep slopes (>20%) will only cause establishment and mowing/maintenance problems. A 3-5% slope is ideal. For erosion control, turf can be planted on batter slopes with a gradient of up to 33.3% (DAF, no date). On slopes greater than 1 in 4, the turfgrass is to be pinned or pegged in place as per AS 5181:2017.
If possible, on an existing old block or if planting above an undesirable soil, apply a suitable sand or topsoil turf underlay prior to turfing. Australian Standard 5181:2017 recommends a minimum 75 mm topsoil underlay prior to the turf being laid. Note: spreading 1 cubic metre across 10 square metres of ground will give a topsoil depth of 100 mm. Use only screened topsoil, preferably a sandy loam soil or an organic under turf mix and as a minimum, the Australian Standard 4419:2018 should be met for turf underlay.
Apply a form of turf starter fertiliser at the recommended product label rate as directed.
Your surface should now be reading for planting.