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Laying A New Lawn

Updated on January 25, 2015

Lay a New Lawn

This article shows how you can take a horrible piece of derelict land and convert it into a fantastic space simply by laying some turf. If you are looking for inspiration to get outside and work the magic then read on, this article tells you how to do it.

Make a Big Difference - Use your imagination.

These pictures show the before and after of the same area of garden. They show that with a bit of effort you can take what looks like an impossible piece of waste ground and convert it into a fantastic lawn to be enjoyed by all the family.

The pictures below show how this transformation was achieved.

You can see more about the renovation and landscaping of the garden by viewing Garden Landscaping. This lens concentrates on laying the lawn.

The Starting Point - A challenge or an impossible task?

This particular garden had been neglected for years and a large area of it had been filled with rubble to bring the lower parts more level with the upper parts. Piles of rubble and poor quality earth had been left for years and had become overgrown with weeds and brambles.

This picture shows what was left once the undergrowth had been cleared. A huge task was started to clear, separate and reuse much of the material in the garden.

If you are wanting to get the lawn laid quicker you may want to just remove the surplus waste materials and dispose of them off site.

Prepare the Ground for Turf - The better the preparation, the better the finished lawn.

Once any hard landscaping is complete and the ground is at the levels that you want it, you then need to start preparing the ground for turf or seed.

Turf will give you a quicker result and create an immediate impression. Sowing seed is cheaper but takes longer to establish a good covering of grass and will require more work in both the preparation and the initial care.

Turf or Grass Seed - Which is better?

There will always be a debate on whether to use Turf or Seed to create a lawn. Turf has the advantage of being almost instant, whilst grass seed is far cheaper.

Which would you recommend and why?

Check The Ground Is Stable - Allow the ground to settle.

It is important that you get levels right before you start preparing for turf. Failing to do this will only create more work later on. You can see in this picture that after the ground was cleared and levelled, it was left for a while to 'settle'. This would allow any hollows to show themselves before the turf is laid. This is important if there has been any major disturbance or reworking of the ground. Over a short period of time settling can occur which will leave dips in your turf if you allow them to.

This does mean that some weed growth will occur and this will need to be cleared before turf is laid.

Remove All The Stones - It will give better results.

As you prepare the ground for turf you need to remove surface stones and any weeds. Try to remove as much of the root of the weeds as you can. This will help reduce future growth, especially if you decide to seed your lawn instead of turf it.

If you have a large area try to work methodically from one side to another. You may decide to bring in a machine of some kind like a rotorvator, this will turn over the earth quickly but will chop any weeds and turn them into the earth. Doing this means that you could have a huge weed problem as you try to establish your lawn.

Some weeds like Japanese Knotweed are really hard to get rid of and the tiniest piece of root will result in a new weed growing. It is really important to remove as much as possible. If you have Japanese Knotweed, be careful how you dispose of it. Do not tip it anywhere else in your garden as it will soon grow on any ground that it comes into contact with. Most local authorities also have strict rules about disposal so check before placing out for collection or take to a local refuse dump. I have found the best way to dispose of it permanently is to burn it completely.

Do It Right - Take your time.

As with many things, preparation is key. Take you time and get it right now. This will save you time in the future and will give you better results that you can be proud off.

If you think it worthwhile, you may want to go over the area more than once. This depends on how good a job you do on the first pass and how much time and energy you have.

The Turf Arrives! - Time for some hard work.

If you are buying turf by sure to check what you are buying and how it will be delivered. Most suppliers will supply turf in rolls that when opened out will be 4 to 5 feet long. This is ideal as it is a manageable size.

Check that it is machine cut (most do) as this will help to provide a more uniform thickness. This will help when it comes to laying and means you will have to spend less time adjusting your ground to suit the thickness.

Also check the type of grass that has been grown. Talk to your supplier and explain how the lawn will be used. If you have children you will probably want some rye grass in the mix as this is harder wearing. Also check that what you are buying is suitable for your soil type and the climate that you live in.

Finally, check how it will be delivered. Only have delivered the amount that you can lay in a day or two. If you need more than this you may want to split your delivery to give you time to lay it before it dries out. Also consider where it will be off-loaded, you will need to be able to transport it from there to your lawn.

Start Laying The Turf - Instant changes

Consider carefully how you will lay the turf. Whilst it won't make a huge difference to the end result you can reduce the amount of cutting and chopping that you have to do.

I like to wet the ground beforehand, but then leave it to dry so that the surface is not too wet to work on. Then lay the turf and give it a good watering.

Try not to walk on the new turf too much as this will cause an uneven surface. If you have to walk on the surface, use a plank of wood or a large board to spread your load.

Some people like to roll new turf. This will only compress the roots and the roller will only follow the contours of the ground. If you must roll it, try putting down a plank of wood about 12 inches wide and roll on top of that. This will then only compress the high points in the turf. You may want to try this if you have bought cheaper quality turf that is slightly uneven.

Water The Turf - Keep it moist.

As you lay the turf, keep it watered. Put a sprinkler on it. The most important thing is too make sure it doesn't dry out. If you let new turf dry out it will shrink and you will be left with gaps between your newly laid turf. These gaps are always difficult to fill and you will be struggling with them for a long time.

Add sprinklers as you go and move them around occasionally.

Whilst you need to water the new turf, it is also important that the ground does not become water logged. So keep a close eye on ground conditions.

Lawn Completed - Huge differences in a short period of time.

You can see in this picture that the main lawn is now completely laid. For the next couple of weeks it will receive regular watering to make sure none of it dries out at all. Traffic over the lawn will be kept to a minimum to allow the turf to establish itself and for the roots to grow into the ground below.

During this period it is critical that the watering is done correctly. Little, often is better than lots now and again. You want the turf to establish good roots in to the earth. The roots will only do this if they have to seek out water. So you need to get the balance right. Enough water to keep the turf moist but not too much that the roots become lazy.

Lawn Mowers - The cut is critical to healthy grass.

If you want to have a nice lawn it is essential that you have a good quality lawn mower. The choice between electric and petrol will be a personal one. I prefer a petrol (gas) mower as this gives more freedom and I generally have larger lawns to cut. Electric mowers can be easy and convenient, especially if you have a small lawn to care for.

The size of the grass box is important as this will determine how often you have to empty it each time to cut the lawn.

Check out this selection of good quality mowers.

Turf Laying Complete - Stunning transformations.

This picture really shows the transformation achieved by laying the turf. You can see that the cut edges around the flowerbed will need trimming once the turf has established itself. Apart from that the lawn now looks terrific and will give hours of pleasure.

Main Lawn Doing Well - Water and patience required.

You can seen in this picture that the main lawn is now established. There are still some brown patches that are taking time to establish themselves fully, but the grass is now being cut about once a week and will soon be looking superb.

The ground conditions in some of the areas was quite poor and this has added to the difficulty that some of the lawn has had in establishing itself.

A Green Lawn. - A great looking lawn.

In this picture you can see that the turf has now established itself and is looking green. Cutting is done once a week during late spring, summer and autumn with a longer final cut at the end of autumn before winter sets in.

This picture was taken in late autumn when the leaves on the tree in the backgound had browned and mostly fallen. The grass at this time of year looks superb.

Cheating - synthetic turf - the easy way out

If you have a small area, or have conditions that won't support real grass, then the alternative is to use an artificial turf. this is available in good quality, large sizes to cover back yards, roof terraces and other spaces.

More Information - Further reading

If you need more information you may want to check out one of these great titles. The Organic Lawn Care Manual is particularly good for those who want to take care of their lawn in a more environmentally, child and pet friendly way.

If you have any comments to add, or tips on lawn care, add them here for all to read.

Your Lawn Care Tips

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    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 8 years ago

      Very informative! I liked the before / after photos.