Laying a New Lawn: Step-By-Step

Guide to Laying a New Lawn

Laying a new lawn can be a simple task with the use of turf. Provided you know the best time to lay it and can acquire good turf raised from seeds, you can establish a lush green lawn with relatively little effort. If you want to have a healthy lawn, the best way to go about it is to purchase turf from a reliable supplier. Often, you can have it delivered to your door, which makes the process even easier if you want to cover a large area.

Before buying turf, it is a good idea to plan when you are going to lay it so that you have the optimum conditions. Spring and fall are the ideal seasons for laying a new lawn, as your soil should have some of that summer warmth without drying out. Fall is a perfect choice as you will catch some winter rain to help keep the soil hydrated. Once you are ready, this guide can take you through the process of laying a new lawn in four basic steps.

Step 1: Preparing the Ground

 The first step to take when laying a new lawn is to prepare the ground. It is vital that the ground is clear, healthy and even before putting down the turf so that the grass can be encouraged to grow without any problems cropping up later on. To encourage grass to establish itself into your soil, you should spread some fertilizer across the area you want to use a week before laying down the turf. General use fertilizer will do the trick, and you can find it in most garden centers.

You should also be sure to clear the full area before starting. Take the time to remove any rocks and stones from your soon-to-be lawn so that it is completely empty and ready to go. You will struggle to lay your turf down efficiently if there is anything hiding underneath it, so it is good to set some time aside in advance and check again before starting.

Once the area is clear, it needs to be level. If the soil is uneven, spread some topsoil across it and rake the area over so that any gaps are filled. Once it is all covered, walk over it to make the ground firm and compact. You want to take small and careful steps, so it stays even, but press down heavily as you walk to make it as firm as possible. It is likely that you will find some new dips that you’ve made from walking around, so fill them with more topsoil and rake it over again.

Like the fertilizer, you will be able to find topsoil in any garden center. You might want to put some granular fertilizer down on your new soil too. Lightly sprinkle this around the area, then rake the soil again and water it. You should do this lightly, so you don’t create any more gaps. After this, you will be ready to go.

Step 2: Choosing Your Turf

 Now that your lawn area is covered, you are almost ready to lay down your turf. If you are planning to cover a big area of land, you will hopefully have found a trustworthy supplier to deliver them to your door. Alternatively, you can find some at a local garden center, just like all the other stuff mentioned in this article. If you haven’t purchased your turf yet, it is important to get some that has grown from seeds to ensure it is natural and healthy.

You should also know that there are different types of turf available for your lawn. This is important as the quality of grass can change depending on what you want to use it for. That is to say, if you want a lawn of strong grass that your children and pets can play on, you will need some domestic turf, which can stand a bit more wear and tear. If you want a more decorative lawn to show off to visitors or look at on a sunny day, you might prefer more high quality, cultivated grass.

If the former sounds more like you, then find some turf that contains hard-wearing dwarf ryegrass. This will put up with more action and is typically used on sports fields, so your kids won’t cause much damage running around. A more decorative option will require more maintenance but could allow you to mow it very short without damage.

Step 3: Laying Your Turf

 After you’ve prepared the area and selected your turf, you can finally put it into position. This is no difficult task, but it is important that you are careful not to cause any damage to the grass or the soil while carrying it out. Leaving the turf out for too long before laying it will cause it to dry out, so the first measure to take is to ensure you are ready to lay it within a day of purchasing it. During this time, keep it somewhere shaded and try not to let it dry out.

Another measure you can take to protect your new lawn is to stop people from walking on it. This will be the case for a few weeks after laying the turf. If you are covering a large area and need to walk on it in order to lay your turf, you should consider finding a plank of wood to help prevent any damage. This way, you have something to place on the ground in order to avoid treading all over your new lawn.

When you lay each piece of turf on the soil, they need to be right next to each other. You don’t want to leave even the smallest gap between different bits of turf. This would slow down the process of establishing them into the soil, and the gaps would be more obvious once the grass starts growing.

To avoid this, let the turves overlap slightly and place them in a staggered formation, much like you would see in a brick wall. These overlaps and criss-cross patterns can prevent any gaps from appearing. You should also let the turf overlap with the edge of your lawn area. This might seem messy, but it makes you extra sure you have covered the whole area, and no soil is left uncovered.

Step 4: Tidying It Up

Once you’ve laid all the turf, it is time to get rid of the messy overlap. This is another simple step that you can do with your spade. Simply run the spade edge around the edge of the new lawn to chop off all of those overlapping ends. You need to be firm enough to cut the edges loose, so make sure you are in the right place as you don’t want to cut off too much.

If you don’t have a spade handy, or you want to be more precise, a sharp knife will do the trick too. It isn’t too important, as any loose ends will likely come loose at some point, but you want to get rid of the excess now, so it isn’t uneven. A spade will probably still be the most convenient choice, as you can use it to pat down the lawn too.

With your trusty spade or rake, you can pat down the turf that you’ve laid down to make sure it is all in contact with the soil. This is necessary, as the turf needs to be touching the soil so it can establish itself and grow into your new lawn. You aren’t aiming to flatten the grass here, so there is no need to bang a spade across the whole area. Simply make sure it is all stuck down and there are no lumps. After this, give it a healthy watering and it should start to settle.

Step 5: Maintenance

Unfortunately, waiting for your lawn to settle properly can take quite a while. The whole process of laying down a new lawn for your garden is relatively easy, as you will hopefully have judged from the steps so far. However, it certainly isn’t quick. Once you have put the turf in position, you will need to look after it and check on it regularly until it firmly establishes itself into the soil.

Assuming you have chosen a good time to lay your lawn, this will take a few weeks. Spring and fall give you warm soil and plenty of rain to help your lawn to settle and start growing properly. Otherwise, dry soil and extreme temperatures could really slow the process down. It is important to time this process well, or there could be a fair bit of maintenance involved in this early period.

With any luck, the weather will help you out and rain will water your lawn for you. Otherwise, you need to make sure that the grass doesn’t dry out. If you notice its color change to a yellow or brown, you know that it needs some hydration. Assuming there is some light rain in these few weeks, you are probably going to be ok.

Once the grass has started to grow, you will want to start mowing it. Before mowing, wait until your lawn has grown to at least 2.5 cm. You should also never cut off more than a third of each blade of grass. By keeping the grass short, it’s easier to maintain through the early days.

The final thing to remember is that you still shouldn’t walk on the grass during these first few weeks until your lawn has properly settled into the soil. A classic ‘Keep Off The Grass’ sign should do the trick.

About the Author

Bob Robinson has been a tool enthusiast and lawn care expert for the past 11 years. First working with John Deere to reduce their impact on the environment, whilst building his love for writing in his spare time. Now, Bob runs the editorial team at BestofMachinery and tends to his garden in his spare time.

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