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Garden Advice how to create a new lawn    
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"Roses grow best on heavy clay soils with lots of organic matter helping to keep the surface roots moist and wet!"

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Creating a new lawn

The first decision in creating a new lawn it to determine its uses. Lawns are focused around three main types of use -
The fine ornamental lawn with is created from fine lawn grasses. This type of lawn is suited to areas that need to look good and only receive minimal use, which are limited to sitting on and walking on.

Secondly a lawn that is created to withstand a large amount of use from your children or receives a large amount of use as a path or access area. This type of lawn is normal a combination of the finer grasses and the tougher grasses such as ryegrass.

Finally there is the lawn which has been created to overcome an existing problem such as a wet or shady areas. Lawns created to conquer such problems normal have a standard mixture of grasses but with the addition of grass species that that have natural adapted to the problem conditions. Once the use of the lawn has been identified the next step is to decide how to create the lawn with seed or turf. Both methods have advantages -

  • Turf is quick and you are not limited by the time of year as long as you have a ready water supply in summer.
  • Seed is less expensive and it is possible to tailor the grasses that make up the seed mixture to your conditions, which is important if you have a shady or wet area.

The preparation for your new lawn

For seed and for turf the preparation should be the same to achieve the best results. First you will need to kill all the existing plants and weeds in the new lawn area. You can either remove the weeds by hand i.e. digging them up or you can use a weed killer such as glphosphate trade name tumbleweed or round up. We don't often recommend chemical weed killers but in the case of lawns using a small amount at the beginning can save a whole lot of chemicals being used later to try to control existing weeds. Ideally you should hoe or spray the weeds and leave the ground for a couple of weeks to see is any further weed try to establish themselves.

With the existing weeds taken care of the next stage is to move the soil around until you achieve the basic levels you require this can be achieved in the case of a level or uniformed sloping lawn with pegs and a straight piece of wood. For larger area you can hirer a small building level from your local hire centre.

For the next stage you will need reasonable weather conditions. Ideally the soil should crumble when it is touched, in more simple terms it should not be to dry or to wet. If the soil is to dry you should water it 2 days before you intend to start. This is worth doing, as it will save a lot of effort. In the case of soil that is to wet the only solution is to spread the surface with grit sand available from a builder's merchant. This is also a good solution for heavy clay soils by spreading sand to a depth of about 40mm on the surface and then forking and raking it in this will help to keep the surface free draining once the lawn is in use.

To prepare the final seedbed you should fork over the soil to a depth of about 100mm and start to rake it in several directions using a garden rake. This will have the effect of breaking down the soil into a tilth. On larger areas you can hire a rotovator for the day. However with a rotovator it is important not to work the soil to deep, as this will destroy any existing structure. Ideally you should only rotavate the top 30mm; this will produce enough tilthed soil to produce the final levels. For advice on hiring a rotavator read our related article 

Before laying the turf or sowing the seed the lawn area should be raked and compacted using a roller or your feet by walking over the area walking on your heals. The more time spent on this preparation task the better the final lawn will be. As you rake and compact the area you should remove any stones over 12 mm in size. By working in different directions the surface will become level losing all the small dips and rises.
With the preparation finished you can them sow the seed or lay the turf.

Lawn from seed - Sowing seed

The best way to achieve an even cover is to mark out the area into metre squares using canes and strings. Then with a small handful of seed sprinkle onto the ground so that the metre squares area is evenly covered. Next lightly rake in with a spring bock rake then using a roller or your feet compact the area again so that the seed makes good contact with the soil to add germination.

Turing - lawn from turfing

With turf the best method is to lay a strip of turf around the edge of the area to form the shape of the new lawn. Then working inside lay the turf as though you are building brick wall, so the joints do not meet and always overlap. Make sure the turf is well butted together so that when it shrinks it does not leave any gaps. Laying the turf from builder's planks or long pieces of wood will help to firm the turf on to the soil. However it is a good idea to lightly compact the turf with a roller or wooden tamper, which is a wooden block about 200mm by 100mm by 50mm on the end of a broom handle. This is used to lightly compact the new turf.

Finally the turf will need watering we have found the best method to be to use spray irrigation lines which can be laid out on the new turf or newly seeded lawn. The best advice we can give in connection to watering at this stage is little and often. It is important to keep the whole area moist to help quick establishment.

For further information on how to look after a new lawn click here.


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