Reinstatement of vegetation to a similar condition to that prior to disturbance is often required in industrial restoration schemes. Seeding with specially prepared seed mixes containing species suited to local soils is often the preferred option on grounds of practicality and cost. Turf translocation is more difficult and costly but, if successful, meets the reinstatement requirement more precisely. In a pilot study at a proposed opencast coal site in Wales, we compared the effectiveness of whole-turf translocation of herb-rich mesic grassland communities, with a less technically demanding and more cost-effective technique involving spreading turf over twice the area at the receiver site and rotovating it into the underlying soil. The translocated whole turf and rotovated turf plots were cut annually and the vegetation removed to simulate grazing that had occurred prior to translocation. Both the whole-turf and rotovated turf transplant techniques gave successful re-establishment of 50% or more of the species originally present. After three years, the cover and species composition were similar in “whole-turf” and “spread and rotovated” plots. This suggests that the “spread and rotovate” technique provides a satisfactory ecological alternative to whole-turf translocation. However, plant communities changed, in some cases substantially, after translocation using either technique. Altered soil hydrology and nutrition combined with the substitution of cutting for grazing are probably the main causes of these changes.