Creating a New Lawn from Seed or Turf
A new lawn can be created using either seed or turf. The preparation remains the same for either method and is the key to creating a good lawn.
There are pros and cons to using both seed or turf. Below is a list of the pros and cons for both
Benefits of using Seed
• Seed can be sown much quicker than the time it takes to lay turf
• Easy to spread
• Much cheaper than turf
• More varieties of grass seed to choose from than in turf e.g drought/shade tolerant, ornamental.
• Great for small repairs
• Seed will keep for several years
Disadvantages of using Seed
• Needs more care after it is sown for a month or so than turf
• Seed is prone to being eaten by birds
• Heavy rain can wash the seeds away on slopes
• Takes a couple of months to establish before it can be brought in to use
Benefits of using Turf
• Turf can be laid all year round and is a perfect winter job!
• Preparation is the same as for seed
• Turf creates an instant lawn and can be used in a few weeks
• Great for doing slopes
• Less watering is required than for seed but still needs plenty of water in the summer
Disadvantages of using Turf
• Needs to be laid within a day or two of buying depending on weather and how fresh it is
• More expensive than seed
• Less choice of grass species than with seed
Preparing the ground
This is by far the most important aspect of creating a new lawn. If there is an existing lawn, this needs to be removed. I would advise killing the lawn or weeds prior to taking it up as this will help prevent any weeds or weed grasses coming through your new lawn. Use a Glyphosate weedkiller as this degrades on contact with the soil so will not harm your new lawn.
Wait for 2 weeks before stripping your old lawn off. You can use a turfing iron or a petrol turf cutter which you can hire from a tool hire shop. The old turf must be removed as it will be hard to break up when rotavating the ground and cause a bumpy lawn. Air pockets will be created when it rots causing an even more uneven lawn. The old turf can either be disposed of or kept somewhere to rot down to make a great compost.
Rake out any larger stones, debris or roots from the soil, preferably rake out any stones larger than 10mm. Consider the quality of the soil. You may well need to make some amendments. A screened, sandy loam is the ideal bed for a lawn and what is in your existing soil will determine what to add
• Sandy loam added to clay soils
• Loam soil added to sandy soils
• Organic material and humus to very heavy clay or very sandy soil
Rotavate the soil several times using a petrol rotavator or tiller. Any additional soils added should be incorporated into the existing soil to prevent layering. Add some pre seed/starter lawn fertiliser to the soil at this stage.
Next rake over the ground getting any more stones/roots/debris out. Rake the soil reasonably level so the ground looks how you want it to look as a finished lawn.
The best way to compact the ground is to tread the soil in with your heals. Walk over the ground in short steps on your heals to compress the whole area in both directions. A lawn roller can be used but treading the ground is much better
The final stage is to rake over the ground lightly to get a final smooth level ready for seeding or laying the turf. If the ground is dry then some watering may be required.