For this project, we need some gravel or grit, some compost or manure, some gardening gloves, fertilizer, a rake, a fork, some canes, string and a tape measurer, a cutting knife, some planks of wood, a sprinkler and some rolls of turf. If you want to create a new lawn, you’ve got two choices: You can sow grass seed or you can lay turf. But the preparation is the same for both. If you’ve had an old lawn which has got very weedy and moth eaten, you can strip off the old turf, stuck it and compost it, improve the soil below for laying a new lawn on. If it’s a lot of weeds on it, treat it with weed killer first, let the weed die, and then start the digging.
Conditioning the soil is the important part, and for this we really want to dig over the whole area to a depth of about six inches, about 15 centimeters down. Have a look at the soil while you do this. Remove stones and remove any perennial weeds that might be there. If your soil is very free draining, you want to do something to help it retain more moisture, so get some compost or some farm manure, sprinkle over the soil surface and fork this down. This will lock in moisture and improve the soil structure. Or you can get a water saving gel. These little crystals just literally sprinkled over the soil, and they absorb hundreds of times their own weight in water.
Once it’s all dug over, the important job is to firm it and level it. We want to consolidate the surface to make sure there’s no hollows underneath, and the best thing to do is just to go over on your heels and walk up and down the lawn to get rid of air pockets. What we want is a nice firm lawn surface. Otherwise, if you lay turf or you grow a lawn and it’s not firmed down properly or not level, you’ll end up with a really uneven result. Once you firm down with your heels, rake it again to even up any bumps or hollows, and walk over it again in the other direction. Really making sure that the whole area has been properly firmed. Also check your levels. What you want is for the soil surface to be in line with any edging strip, or if you’re butting a lawn up to a path or a patio, if you can lay the turf or grow the grass level with that surface, then when you’re mowing, you can literally go over the whole area. It makes the job much easier.
And once you’ve really done that job thoroughly, try and leave the area for several weeks so the rain gets on it, and the ground consolidates down and settles. Then we’ll be ready for laying the new turf.
We’re now ready to create a new lawn. It’s to start with straight edge when you are laying your turf. And today, we’re going to use a straight edge, just at the base of this hedge. I’m keeping the edge of the new lawn a little bit away from the hedge so that it’s not in the dry shade there. Now, I’ve got to measure out the area to work out how much turf to order. And for this, I need to measure the length and the width and work out how many square meters of turf I’m gonna need to cover this whole area.
When you work out how much turf you need, it’s always worth adding on extra 10% so that you got enough for curves or to go around features in your garden. Then you can either go in to store and buy the turf you need on the day you’re going to lay it. Don’t get it in advance and stick it in a corner of the garden. Get it and lay it on the same day. But for bigger projects, you can always order the turf online and have it delivered to your home.
And now, before I buy the turf, one final job, and that’s to mix in a little bit of fertilizer in to really encourage good new grass growth. I’m either going to sprinkle in a general fertilizer like Grow More or something bone meal, which has got lots of phosphates in it, which is really good for encouraging root growth. And just sprinkle this over the area and rake it in to the surface. Then we’re gonna be ready for laying the turf.
Start laying your turf along your chosen straight edge. Ours is at the back here under the hedge. I’m just gonna overlap the leading edge of the turf over the edge so we can cut that neatly when we’re finished and unroll the turf completely. Once it’s unrolled, butt it up to your straight edge, and just tap that down loosely. We’re gonna firm it down more later on. But tap it in to place to settle the turf down in to the soil. Uncurl the leading edge, which you’ll find is quite bent over, firm it down and then get your second turf.
Now, the second turf needs to follow the straight edge along again, but make sure it’s really butted up tightly to the first turf. You don’t want to leave any gaps between the two. Otherwise, the grass will dry out, and it might die. So really push the two up together, bend them in and firm them in really tightly. If the grass does dry out at all and gaps develop, you can always fill in with some compost, a little sprinkling of lawn seed, to fill any gap there.
And now, you can start cutting the edges. I’ve got a wooden edge around this bed, but if you got paving, it’s the same procedure. Get yourself a very sharp knife. Be very careful when using a knife. Work out where the edge is and just push the knife through the turf in line with the edge. Just work slowly and very carefully, keeping your hands out of the way of the blade. Cut away any excess so you can clearly see where you’re working to, and just get the edge very neatly down, tapped in to place. And as you can see, the finished surface of the lawn is just level with the edging. So when it comes to mowing, you’ll have no problem at all going over the edge. And just continue working right the way around the lawn.
Tamp down really well as you’re doing the job so that you’re settling the turf tightly down on to the ground below. And now the final straight edge. I’m gonna use the edge of this board as my cutting guide. To stop it drying out, you can just get some John Innes compost and butt that right up tightly against the edge of the lawn to stop it drying out so that the grass will root down and establish well.
If you have any tiny narrow gaps, you can cut a thin strip of turf to fill in, or just get some compost, a John Innes lawn-based compost is ideal, fill the gap with compost, and then just get a little bit of grass seed, which you can sprinkle along the top, and tease that well down in to the gap. And that grass seed will germinate and fill the hole perfectly. Also, in dry weather, you get gaps between turfs, do exactly the same thing.
And now, you need to water the turf thoroughly, making sure that the water soaks right the way through to the soil below because that’s got to be moist enough for new roots to grow down in to. Don’t walk on the new turf until it really is well-rooted, which will take at least two to three weeks. You can test by trying to lift the turf up. If it comes away, it’s not rooted. Once you find that you’ve got resistance there, the turf will be well-rooted, and it’s time to give it its first mow. Give it a very shallow mow to start with, not cutting it too tight, and then gradually lower the height of cut of the following cuts.
So for now, water properly every day until the turf is really well-rooted, and within a few weeks, you’ll be able to enjoy a beautiful new lawn.