When creating a new lawn it is essential that the soil is prepared properly to ensure a satisfactory outcome when laying turf or sowing lawn seed. Whether you decide to lay turf or seed, the preparation is the same.
Step 1 Remove existing lawn.
If you are replacing an existing lawn, you will first need to remove it. If left, weeds and weed grasses may come up through the new lawn and the new lawn may not establish fully. Use a proprietary weed killer to kill off the existing lawn, and follow the instructions carefully - you may need to leave it up to two weeks to take effect. Then use a turf cutter to remove the existing lawn.
Step 2 Dig over or rotovate the soil.
Next, dig over or rotovate the soil, removing any weeds and larger stones and breaking up any large clumps of soil. It's important that the soil is turned over to relieve any compaction, which will cause poor drainage and prevent air getting the grass roots. The minimum depth of soil required is 150mm (6 inches).
Step 3 Consolidate the soil
The soil then needs to be lightly consolidated to remove any large pockets of air. Otherwise, the surface of the new lawn will become uneven as the soil settles. To do this, walk over the surface using small steps or "duck walking" and then repeat in the opposite direction. Rake over the soil to give a smooth surface and a fine tilth.
Step 4 Apply pre-turfing fertilizer.
A few days before laying turf or sowing lawn seed, it's a good idea to apply a pre-turfing fertilizer to ensure the soil has the correct nutrients to encourage the turf or seed to put down strong healthy roots. If there's not been any rainfall, water the soil a few days before the turf arrives to ensure the soil is moist.
Step 5 Seed the lawn.
Apply the seed evenly over the area at the rate specified. This can be done by hand or using a spreader.
- Spreading the seed more thinly with a number of passes helps to achieve an even spread.
Step 6 Rake the seed into the soil.
Lightly rake the seed into the soil and keep the soil moist until the grass has established. Germination will take 7 to 21 days depending on the time of year. If any broad leaf weeds appear, these will be need to be removed by hand or treated with a selective weedkiller.
Step 7 Mow regularly.
When the grass plants are about 50 to 80 mm high you can begin mowing. Keep the mower on a high setting initially and gradually reduce the mowing height once the grass thickens up.
To lay turf you will need the following tools:
- A wheelbarrow
- A rake
- A long knife
- A spade
- Planks to walk on
- A hosepipe and sprinkler
When laying turf, make sure you have completed all your preparation before the turf arrives. The turf needs to be unrolled as soon as possible, particularly in spring and summer, and will deteriorate if left rolled up too long.
Step 8 Lay turf.
Start laying the turf along the longest border. If you don't have a straight edge you can use a plank as a guide. For circular lawns, start in the middle and work outwards.
The rolls of turf should be closely butted together to ensure no gaps are left. Stagger each row so that the turf rolls are laid brickwork fashion. Tamp the turf down with the head of a rake or a piece of wood.
Use a long knife or a hand saw to tidy the edges and cut around beds, paths or trees.
- Remember to use a plank if you need to walk on your newly laid.
- Any gaps which do appear can be filled with a sandy soil.
- Where the edges of the turf are exposed, put some soil on them to help prevent them drying out.
Step 9 Water turf immediately.
Start watering the turf as soon as it is laid. On larger lawns and in hot weather you may need to start watering before all the turf is laid. Check to make sure the water has soaked through the turf in to the soil below by lifting corners of the turf. Do not let it dry out until the turf is well established. Watering in the early morning and evenings will reduce the loss of water to evaporation.
Step 10 Mow as it grows.
Your new lawn will need to be mown as soon as it starts to grow and is established sufficiently so that the turf isn't dislodged by the mower.
Don't wait too long. Mowing helps the lawn establish and allowing the grass to grow too long before mowing will spoil the appearance.
Remember, it is important not to remove more than a third of the grass blade length at any one time.
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