How to create a new lawn

When creating your new lawn, a number of factors need to be considered. Whether you want quick and convenient turf or prefer the idea of nurturing a lawn from seed, having the right gardening tools and know-how is essential.

A lawn transforms your garden with lush colour and texture that has both aesthetic appeal and function. Choosing between turf and grass seed all depends on your lifestyle and what you're after. How much time you have to care for your lawn, your budget, as well as the shape and size of your garden are the things to consider when making a decision.

For advice on choosing the best type of lawn for you and your garden, have a read through this Tesco buying guide.

Types of lawn

The grass seed versus turf debate can be a difficult one to comprehend - especially if you're relatively new to gardening and aren't familiar with the pros and cons of each method. Ultimately, this choice needs to be made based on your individual preferences and requirements.

Turf

Turf is a great choice if you're looking to create an instantly beautiful lawn without having to wait for seeds to grow. Garden turf makes more sense if you have children or pets and keeping off the lawn for long periods isn't practical.

Besides the fresh turf option requiring mowing and watering, there's also artificial grass that makes a sturdy, hard-wearing choice for play areas, pool sides and special event spaces.

Grass seed

If you're focused on growing your own lawn from scratch, the grass seed option is for you. Taking this route lets you fully embrace the nurturing aspect of gardening.

While more effort is required using this method, it's generally much cheaper growing a lawn from seed than it is to lay turf. There are various types of grass seed to choose from. Each one provides different traits, tones and textures to complement your overall garden vision.

Preparing the ground

Before sowing seeds or laying turf, you'll need to make sure the ground is properly prepared. This work should be carried out around two to three months prior to sowing or turfing.

Hand tools

The first step is to remove stones, rubbish and any other debris from the space. A garden spade will be needed to dig up old lawns, plants and weeds. Make sure to pull out any weeds right from the roots. A garden fork helps turn over the soil and loosen stubborn tap roots. You might want to use weed killer on particularly well-established areas.

Another essential hand tool is a soil rake. This is used to smooth out clumps and level the ground. Make sure you tread the soil in between rakes to even everything out. A garden roller can be used for this purpose on larger areas. Alternate between raking and treading or rolling until the lawn bed is smooth and even.

Soil testing

Poor quality soil is detrimental to your lawn bed, but this issue can be addressed beforehand. Using a home soil testing kit is the easiest way to check the pH balance and nutrient levels. Composts and top soils can be used to resolve any deficiencies. These would need to be blended in during the raking stage.

When to lay turf

In theory, turf can be laid at any time of the year, but the best time is mid-autumn or late winter. Laying turf in spring or summer runs the risk of the soil becoming too dry for the roots to truly take hold. The spring and summer months when the weather warms up is the optimal time for sowing a lawn.

Sowing grass seed

Depending on what's practical, you might decide to sow your lawn in stages. For larger spaces in particular, it makes sense to split the garden into sections. This lets you scatter the grass seed with more precision to ensure an even spread. Seeding in different directions from left to right helps with this. A hand-held distributer is an alternative option to hand seeding.

In order for the seeds to grow efficiently, warm weather and regular watering are required. New lawns are prone to drying out in the first six months so light daily watering is essential during the first month. Once the grass becomes more established by the second month, heavier and less frequent watering should do. How fast your lawn germinates depends on the type of grass you've chosen, but on average it will take around 10-14 days. When you have a new lawn, buy a mower and a grass trimmer to keep it in peak condition.

Laying turf

Before even thinking about laying the turf, you'll need to measure your garden to work out how much is needed. For square or rectangular spaces you can simply multiply the length by the width. Always measure in metres and order at least 5% extra to allow room for cutting shapes.

To avoid any deterioration, the turf needs to be rolled out immediately during the spring and summer or within 24 hours during autumn and winter. Layer the turf rolls along a straight edge, keeping the edges close. Stagger the joints in brickwork fashion on subsequent rows. If you have a circular lawn, start in the middle and work your way out.

The edges can be shaped with a long knife and spade. Laying scaffolding planks over the turf helps keep the ground level, promotes contact with the soil and provides a convenient walkway. Turf will need to be kept moist with regular watering during dry weather, until the roots have fully taken hold. Once established after around a month, only occasional watering during dry periods will be necessary.

1