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 quantity of turf to be delivered or collected from the farm. Speak with the turf supplier to make sure they have stock and can deliver or provide 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 throughout the sprayed plants. If time allows, apply a second application of weed killer and commence group preparation 14 days after the first treatment.
Remove any construction debris (scraps of timber, gravel, pieces of concrete and mortar, bricks, etc.).
If you are a Queensland resident, be on the lookout for Red Imported Fire Ants. For further information please visit www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au. Contact Biosecurity QLD if you think you have found fire ants, call 13 25 23.
Check the physical condition of the soil and the surface contours of the ground. If a lot of effort is required to push a knife blade or 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 used by contractors, and restricts the root development of grass planted above the compacted layer. You should also identify any low, wet spots that need to be drained properly.
Shape the ground to give good surface 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) rotary hoe the ground to incorporate the existing dead grass materail and organics.
(If possible on an existing block), or if a new 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 rate, and add lime if it is also necessary to counter high soil acidity. Mix these into the surface and smooth the soil by raking.
Your surface should now be reading for planting.