A carpet of lush, green lawn is a wonderfully appealing aspect in any garden. Versatile and cohesive, it can be both an area in it’s own right, whilst also having the ability to bring the various elements of a garden together.
Achieving a lawn which works for you is straightforward – the key to success is to make sure you consider the space you have, the way in which your lawn will be created, and the time you have available for maintenance etc.
Design & Grass Type
Of course you don’t actually have to ‘design’ a lawn in the same way as you would a border, but it’s important to consider…
- What you’ll use your lawn for – whether it’s for relaxing, family fun or strictly to admire from afar there will be grass seed or turf available to suit – from slow-growing, low maintenance blends to hard-wearing varieties which cope better with ball games.
- Be sure to create a usable area with a simple, defined shape – remember your lawn doesn’t need to cover your whole garden!
- Don’t be tempted to extend your lawn into every nook and cranny as you’ll get little benefit from tiny slivers of grass squeezed between borders – plus of course these will be really tricky to mow and maintain.
Seed or Turf?
Once you’ve decided on your lawn shape and size, then you have two options – laying turf or sowing seed.
The single great advantage of using turf – pre-grown grass, cut from the ground and ready to lay – is that it can turn a patch of garden from building site to instant lawn in a single day – although it’s worth bearing in mind that these instant results come at a price roughly ten times that of sowing seed!
Turf can be laid any time of the year as long as the ground is not too dry, frozen or boggy, but we’d suggest early Autumn to late Spring as the best time.
To lay a lawn using turf, follow the steps below:
- First dig or fork over your area, rake it roughly level and remove stones and roots as you go.
- Sprinkle on fertiliser – or use specially designed products such as EverGreen Lawn Soil or Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Soil – at the recommended rate, rake it in and then tread the whole area well, sinking your weight down to consolidate the soft patches. Rake again to cover the footprints so that you are left with a fine ’tilth’.
- Use a suitable board to support your weight and keep you off of your prepared ground, and then lay your first line of turfs in a straight row along one end of the area, making sure that you butt the short sides firmly together. Tap down each turf with your rake to ensure that it makes contact with the soil beneath. Once you’ve finished the first row, move your support onto the line you’ve just laid and then repeat, making sure to stagger your joints as you would with bricks. Repeat, tapping each row down as you go, until your area is covered.
- Once this is complete, trim the outer edge to create your desired shape and your lawn is laid!
- Give your new lawn a good soaking with a sprinkler and, if it doesn’t rain, repeat this every few days until your turf has rooted into the ground (which you can test by trying to ‘peel back’ the corner of random turfs, and if you can’t lift them, then your lawn is rooted).
Although it looks good immediately, ideally a lawn from turf shouldn’t be walked on until it has rooted down in the soil and started to grow.
Sowing seed is by far the most cost-effective method to achieving a new lawn – but the most obvious difference is that you’ll need to wait some time (usually 4-6 months after sowing) before you have a usable lawn.
There are two time ‘windows’ most suitable for successful sowing – April-May or September-early October. Either works well, but be aware that if you’re sowing in Spring that you’ll need to be prepared to keep your new lawn well-watered during the Summer.
To sow a lawn from seed, follow the steps below:
- First prepare your ground in the same way as for laying turf – rake or fork over, rake, spread fertiliser or a lawn soil product, rake, tread and rake again – aiming to produce a level, firm seedbed.
- Divide your grass seed in half and sprinkle one batch east-west and the other north-south, making sure that there are no bare patches and that your seed is spread very thinly and evenly. You could, of course, use a spreader for this to make sure you get it just right.
- Starting at one end, rake the area again very lightly to encourage the seed into the ground and partially cover it – you won’t manage to cover it all, but you should only expect to see around half of it by the time you’ve finished.
- After a couple of weeks of mild weather a green ‘haze’ should appear and you should water if you need to.
- Your lawn will look very sparse to start with and you should avoid walking on it. It’s also likely that weed seeds will germinate too, but that’s normal and these should disappear once you start mowing.
- As your lawn thickens and once the longest tufts are 2-3in you can make your first cut, with the mower blades set to a height so that they simply remove the growing tips. This will help your grass root more firmly and bush out into tiny clumps.
Apart from essential cultivation you should keep off of the grass until it has been cut several times (keep your mower blades set high). After this it should start to look like a lawn and any weeds should have miraculously disappeared!
You’ll find a great range of grass seed available in-store, plus all the tools and products you’ll need to create the perfect green carpet in your garden!