Finished your grand design but the garden looks like a building site? Here’s how to lay a quick-fix lawn from scratch
Whether you want a verdant blanket for an impromptu picnic or have a team of budding Waynes who need space to kick a football around, now is the perfect time to make a new lawn from scratch. A lawn is a must-have feature in all but the tiniest or shadiest of gardens – nothing beats the sensation of walking barefoot on the grass, and it‘s the perfect surface for outdoor games or to set off plants.
Turf will thrive when laid on soil that is warm and moist, and the weather in autumn is perfect for it to establish quickly. If the ground is frozen or baking in a heat wave, turf is put under stress and a luscious green sward will quickly become a mat of withered brown leaves.
Several grades of turf suit different situations. Turf containing dwarf perennial rye grass is ideal for a heavy-duty family lawn, while turf made up of fine fescue and bent grasses suits a showpiece lawn. A standard sized roll will cover about one square metre, but rolls which can cover up to 20sqm are available.
If you’re patient, a lawn can be created by sowing seed, but you will have to wait up to three months before you can set foot on it. With the right preparation, you can turf a ready-to-use lawn in just a weekend.
When turf is delivered, store in a shady spot and sprinkle with water to prevent from drying out. Aim to lay the lawn within two days of delivery – if laying is delayed, open the rolls out to prevent the grass from yellowing.
Getting the area ready
Prepare the soil by skimming off any old grass with a spade and then remove weeds or large stones. Roughly level the site by eye, flattening humps and filling hollows. Fork over the soil to relieve compaction, level the clods by raking, then firm the ground by walking up and down, putting weight on your heels. Level it off with the rake again until the soil resembles fine crumbs.
Laying the first row
Start by laying your first row of turves along a straight edge, carefully unwinding each roll to avoid tearing. Butt each piece up tight until the first row is complete and give each a good tap with the back of a rake, especially at the joints, to ensure they make good contact with the soil. Finish the end of the row with a half-size piece of turf, cut to fit.
Lay the rest
Lay the next and subsequent rows by staggering pieces of turf in a running bond brickwork pattern, making sure all pieces fit snugly together. Avoid damaging the turf by laying each row while standing on planks of wood laid on top of the previous row.
Unless you are turfing a square area, the edges will need to be trimmed. Curves are easily created using a half moon tool with a hosepipe laid down as a guide. Brush a sandy topsoil mix into the cracks with a broom, then water your new lawn well. Allow the turf to establish by keeping off it as much as you can for the next five weeks and water well during dry spells. Soon enough, your beautifully cultivated lawn will be the envy of all the neighbours.
Words: Martyn Cox Images: and B&Q www.diy.com