How to articles
How-to make a new lawn
There’s nothing better than the feeling of fresh grass under your feet in the summer. And there’s no easier way of making your garden look great, than with a lush green lawn.
The best thing about lawns is that anybody can grow one successfully, regardless of their experience or love of gardening. A lawn is easy to look after and continues to look good if it’s not abused too much. But before you run off to buy some turf or grass seeds there are a few questions you should ask yourself first.
1. Do you really want a lawn?
The first thing to think about when covering the floor area of your garden is what finish suits you best. Although a lawn is the traditional ‘material’ to use, it requires looking after and is less suitable in places that suffer from dense shade, hot dry spots and on steep slopes. In these situations, groundcover plants, landscaping materials like gravel or even wildflowers might be a better option.
2. Which type of grass?
If you decide you do want a lawn, the next step is to consider what type (there are more than one). Traditional bowling-green style lawns with a perfect striped finish may look great but they are a lot of work to maintain. For this reason most people opt for a ‘family’ lawn that contains a mixture of compact, hardwearing grasses. These are much easier to look after, requiring a mow every week during the growing season and an annual feed for the best possible finish.
You can even get grass seed mixtures now for problem areas like shade, dry and sunny spots, as well as mixtures to create wildflower meadows and trendy prairie-style gardens.
3. Turf or seed?
The final thing to think about is whether to create your new lawn from turf or seed. In a nutshell, turf is more expensive, harder work and needs laying as soon as it is delivered. But it does provide an instant result that can be used in just a few weeks.
Seed on the other hand, is more vulnerable to the weather and birds, and takes months before it can be used as a lawn. However, it’s cheap and easy to use. The best time to sow is either in mid-spring (April-May) or mid-Autumn (September and early October).
One common mistake made, is to assume that turf requires less ground preparation than seed, when in fact they both require the same amount of groundwork.
How-to make a lawn:
Firstly you need to prepare the ground
This is really important as it creates the base for your seed or turf. Aim to create a perfect level seedbed whether and allow plenty of time for the soil to settle. It’s best to prepare the site when the soil doesn’t stick to your boots or tools.
1. Dig the area thoroughly removing any stones and weeds as you go.
2. Leave the area for a week to settle – should new weeds appear simply remove them again.
3. Walk over the whole area with the weight on your heels to create a hard flat surface.
4. Scatter a general fertiliser across the ground and lightly rake it into the surface.
1. It’s important you don’t walk on the prepared soil and undo your hard work, so use a pair of short planks to work from – it’ll spread your weight. If the weather has been very dry, give the soil a good drink of water 48 hours before you lay the turf.
2. Lay the first line of turf end to end, carefully butting them together without any gaps. Place a plank on the first row of turf to spread your weight and help them attach to the soil below. Have a bucket of sieved soil handy to fill any hollows (large cracks) you spot as you go.
3. Lay the second row butted up to the first so that the joints are staggered like bricks in a wall.
4. Repeat, working forwards on the planks, until the whole area is covered. Fill any tiny gaps between the turf with sieved garden soil.
5. Trim the edges of the turf (around the perimeter) with an old kitchen knife. You can use the planks as a guide for straight lines.
6. Water the area well after you’ve finished laying the turf and water again in dry spells until the grass is settled in.
1. Mark out the area to be sown into 1m wide strips using canes and string.
2. Weigh out sufficient seed for 1sqm and pour into a polystyrene or plastic cup. Make a mark on the side of the cup or cut it down to size to form a handy scoop.
3. Start at one end of each strip and scatter the seed for 1sqm as evenly as possible.
4. Then move the string and canes to form strips running at right angles across the area and repeat sowing it again. By the time you’ve finished, each square metre should have received the right amount of seed.
5. Lightly rake the seed in and water thoroughly if it doesn’t rain. Within a couple of weeks the area should take on a green fuzzy appearance.
6. Don’t worry about weeds, because they will soon disappear once you start mowing. Make your first cut when the grass reaches about 5-8cm high.