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Starting a New Lawn ….Make my lawn green

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To Lawn or Not to Lawn:

In my last article I discussed planning and designing a garden for beginners. I left out one of the most important parts of the garden, the lawn. I thought it important that a whole section should be devoted to this topic. Starting a new lawn is not an easy project to undertake. There are decisions that have to be made. I’ve listed some of these below.

1. Do I actually want a lawn.

2. If I do want to make my lawn green, how will I go about this.

3. Will I seed my lawn

4, Will I lay Turf.

5. What sort of seed or Turf should I use.

6. How do I prepare the soil ready for my lawn.

I have tried once again to keep this discussion at a basic level so that it will be easier for the beginner gardener to grasp the fundamentals of starting a new lawn.

Do I actually want a Lawn:

That probably sounds like a funny question to ask on an article about building lawns. The point is that if you have decided to design say, a cottage garden, then there is a likely hood you won’t want any lawns. Very few cottage gardens have lawns as most are designed to be full of perennial and annual flowering plants with meandering pathways. If you have a container garden then you definitely won’t want a lawn. But, in most other cases a lawn is a mandatory part of the garden. Somewhere to rest, play or have picnics.

If I do want my Lawn Green, how will I go about this:

So you definitely want a lawn and you want it green. Well what other color could it possibly be. How do you go about this. Well you have several choices. These are:

1. Seed

2. Turf

3. Plugs

4. Clumps

For the sake of simplicity we will look at Seed and Turf. Clumps are sections of turf and plugs a small pieces of turf. The latter two methods are a bit more difficult to undertake and to maintain then the first two. Hence, we’ll leave them as they are probably not the best for beginner gardeners.

Will I seed My Lawn

At one time seeding a lawn was the only real option available and the main method used by garden designers. I can still remember my father, an avid gardener, preparing and seeding his lawn when I was only a small child.

There is a numerous variety of seed available for lawn development. The type of seed you purchase will depend on climatic conditions, soil conditions, sunny or shady conditions and personal preference. Just a few of the huge amount available are listed here.

1.Couch

2. Kikuyu

3.Bluegrass

4. Rye grass

5. Fine Fescue

6. Tall fescue

What type of seed you use will depend upon the factors I listed above. It would be best, should you decide to take this course, to see your local garden center and ask for there advice. They will be aware of, and stock, the required seed.

Because this Article travels all over the world through the Internet. I have tried to include grasses that are available in most area’s.

Also, as this article is for the beginner gardener, I won’t be going any further into seeding a lawn at this stage.

Will I Lay Turf.

This would be my preferred method of starting a new lawn for the beginner gardener. Half the job is already completed. The lawn, or turf as it is called, is already grown and ready for you lay.

Just like seed, you have numerous options available when it comes to turf varieties. Again, it all depends on your climatic conditions, soil type and personal preference. Some varieties available include.

1.Couch.

2. Kikuyu

3. Buffalo

4. Centipede

These are just a few of the many types available.

Preparing the soil for your Turf.

Soil can be an issue for the beginner gardener. If you don’t get this part of the job correct there’s a good chance your lawn might struggle, or worse, die.

1. The first thing you will need to do is to remove any weed clumps that might be left, using your hoe. Make sure that no weeds are left on the site as these may come up through you turf and become a problem later.

2.The second item on the list will be to get your site nice and smooth. You will need to rake your lawn over using a metal rake. I prefer this as the prongs, or teeth, are stronger and will do the job a lot better. When raking you are looking to remove any remaining rocks and hard clods of dirt, along with tree roots and other foreign items. You may need to use your mattock to remove any difficult roots.

3. When you have completed the above tasks you will need to do a PH check on your soil. You can purchase a PH kit from any online garden site or from your local garden center. There will be directions on the kit to help you understand this better. Take several tests from varying parts of the site. This way you will get a more accurate diagnosis.

Ideally your readings should be between 6 to 6.5, if they are under 6 you will need to add dolomite or garden lime. The amount you add will depend on the pH level. Again, your packaging should give you directions on this. If your readings are above 6.5, you will need to add sulfate of ammonia or Agricultural sulfa at the relevant amount.

4. Now you are ready to add some fertilizer to the lawn. I prefer to use old, fine manures, but you can use available starter lawn fertilizers. Why do I say fine? Because the last thing you want is lumps under your turf. I find that the best manure for the job is old chicken manure. I can’t emphasis ‘old’, enough. If you were to put down fresh, or partly aged manure you stand a good chance of burning and killing your turf. Chicken manure is high in phosphate which is necessary for a good strong lawn. Spread the manure evenly over the whole site.

5. You can now, gently and, evenly, spread the manure over the lawn, incorporating it into the first inch (2.5 cms) of the soil. Make sure your soil is smooth and ready for laying turf. Now you will need to give the whole area a gentle watering.

Ready To Lay The Turf.

At this stage of the development you should have previously measured your site and purchased the turf variety that’s suitable for your area. You can now start rolling out the turf over the prepared surface of the site, starting from a straight edge. Make sure you unroll the turf gently to avoid any damage to the grass. At one point you will read the curved areas of any garden beds or paths you have built previously, using a large sharp knife, cut the turf to fit those curves.

When you have completely rolled out all the turf you can gently water it in. Make sure that you water the lawn on a regular basis until it has settled in. How often you water it will depend on the weather in your area. If it’s hot and dry then I’d probably give it a good soak twice a week. Less often for milder or cooler weather.

You Now Have a Lawn

You will now have completed your lawn and all that remains is to give it a month or so to settle down before you start enjoying it with your family. Remember that the lawn variety you will choose depends on several factors. Your climatic conditions, your soil and your preference. I have only listed a small amount of seed or turf available. There are many other variants available.

If you have any questions, I will do my best to answer them. Please leave a comment below on this article.

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Jim Kulk

42 Comments

  1. This is a great post. The recent heatwave has decimated our lawn and we are thinking of starting over again. I was interested to read about the different options in turf or seed. Any suggestions for rescuing a dying lawn or should we just start over?

    • Hi Amy. That will depend on what type of lawn you have. Some grasses can withstand dry, they may look like they’re dead, but they will bounce back when the rains come. To check if yours will survive just deep water a small area each day for a fortnight. If it starts to turn green you have a grass that will return with rain. All the best Jim

  2. This is a good overview of starting a lawn from scratch. I think many people will agree that laying down turf is preferable to seeding a new lawn. I also recall my father doing this and swearing. It also took several years before the lawn was lush and able to withstand foot traffic.
    However, you may want to proofread more closely as I found some errors. 😉

    • Hi. Thanks for your input Ellie. I will proof read but it’s difficult because I am Australian and all the Editor systems are in American. We spell some words differently, I change those that I’m aware of but others slip through occasionally. Will do my best. Jim

  3. Something that I have been meaning to get around to do is replace our lawn and therefore glad that I found your site which is full of great information and makes it seem so easy, which I’m sure it isn’t.

    The problem we have is that we are at the side of a river and prone to attract all sorts of weeds which get blown up and down, and in a dilemma, whether to go down the artificial route or not. This is not my suggestion but my wives!

    I prefer real grass but I have seen some great looking artificial turf. What’s your take on this? Thanks for the great advice!

    • Hi Mick. Although I think artificial grass is fine in the right place, however,it’s not the same as the real thing. Natural grass is not only comfortable to sit on, and for children to play on, it provides oxygen to the planet. In my next blog I will be discussing lawn maintenance, including some steps to keep weeds to a minimum. Thanks for your comments. Jim

  4. I absolutely LOVE the “do I want a lawn” part! So many people just assume, but it was t all that long ago when lawn weren’t a thing at all. Now somebody looks at your crazy for even suggesting not having one. Oh how the times change, lol.

    • Thank you Freya. Lawns can be a fantastic place for families to gather, to have a coffee or tea or to simply admire the gardens. All the best Jim

  5. I find that your post is of great value to most people who would like to have good tips for maintaining their lawns. Even though I do not own a lawn, I will give references to your site to my uncle and I am sure he will be very happy.

  6. Hi That is a very comprehensive and informative site about lawn care, thanks for the useful information.

  7. My grass looks great front the street, but up close there are weeds. My husband has been fighting them with “weed & feed” and they are still there! Do you have any ideas for this?

  8. What a great post! I have also read your Small Garden Design post so this is like a sequel. Very interesting. You must be a very good gardener and you really give confidence since one can see that you know exactly what you’re talking about. My family has a big house on the outskirts of Athens, Greece, which is where I’m writing to you from, and in summer, the lawn has to be watered once a day or goodbye green. We get an average of 35 Celcius during that season and the nights are also warm so water tends to evaporate very quickly. After my mother died, my father moved back to his native island, Crete and I have the chore of gardening the house and taking care of it, although my brother is a big help. Not that I do it myself, we have a gardener but it’s always better to know something and not only rely on him. Thank you for the post. I will be back!

    • Thanks for your positive comments Loannis. I would love to visit Athens some day. I hope you guys aren’t having issues with the fires we’re hearing about. So sad for those many people that haver lost homes and loved one’s. Where I live in Queensland Australia we also have hot summers. The temperatures here average around 35c during the hotter months. But it’s still possible to garden. All the best Jim

  9. Hi Jim,

    I don’t suppose there is no way from stopping your lawn from being burned away by the sun short of covering it?

    Thank you kindly for all these amazing tips and advice on starting a new lawn. I will remember them and I especially like the roll-out lawn idea. That is brilliant, I did not know you could just buy that in and lay it down like a carpet, that really is brilliant.

    If it were up to me I’d have the paths into Lawns haha.

    Thank you again for this thorough and helpful article which I will apply to make my lawn green as its got burned away, ever soooooo slightly.

    – Philip.

    • Hi Philip. Thanks for your positive comments. I realise that a lot of places around the world are suffering from extreme heat and dry at the moment. In these conditions it’s difficult to keep any lawn alive. However, I hope you return to read my article on lawn maintenance. I hope to have it up within the next few days. One of the things I will be discussing is how to best keep your lawn alive in hot, dry conditions. All the best Jim

  10. Wow, this is very helpful, I currently live in a townhome so we don’t have to maintain the lawn, but we are looking to purchase a house here in about a year. I will save this article as we do want a lawn and we are not sure how to go about it, we have a two-year-old so we want something nice and durable.

    • Thanks for commenting Kelsey. I have two blogs coming up that might interest you. One is on container gardens for small areas and the other will be on lawn maintenance. All the best Jim

  11. Hi Jim. Awesome article it was really insightful. I had never thought about all the different ways to make a good lawn. I like Bluegrass the most myself think it looks amazing. You put a lot of really nice tips in there.

    Thank you for the information! Can’t wait to read some more.

    Edwin

  12. Thanks for the information provided about lawns. We are going through a very dry spell in UK at the moment so our lawns have pretty much died. Hopefully I will have clearer idea if and when normality comes upon us again.

    • Unfortunately it’s been dry in many places around the world. We haven’t seen rain here in Queensland Australia, for several months and our hot dry season hasn’t even started. I hope you get some rain soon. Keep an eye open for amy next blog on lawn maintenance. I’ll have a piece in it on maintaining a dry lawn. Jim

  13. This is very detailed article that is simple for people to understand and help with laying a new lawn. Its interesting to read old chicken manure makes for a strong lawn. As some others have said we are in a heatwave in the UK, like many other areas of the world. So a lot of dried grass about.

    I noticed your next article is on lawn maintenance. I will be interested to read this, as I have had a bit of a discussion with a family member who mows the lawn too much. My guinea pigs in the summer are out in the garden and of course they love the grass.

    • Thanks Eden. The heat and dry definitely has been an issue all over the world. Look forward to you returning for my next blog. Jim

  14. Nice post!

    There is still much more I want to do to the backyard before summer ends and thankfully it is supposed to start cooling down this weekend to where I can. Love the ideas and things do to!

    Bookmarked for future use!

  15. My brother has just retired and owns a house with a large garden with a well-kept lawn. He told me last week that lawn maintenance has always been his passion. Now that he has plenty of time, he would like to deal exclusively with grass lawns. I will tell him about your website tomorrow and he will certainly be very happy. I encourage you to continue this important work for the community.

  16. This is a great post! Lots of stuff that I learned and I hope I can apply to my lawns.

  17. Jim, I have a fairly big garden which we found already ‘mature’ when we moved to this house some 3 years ago. We were lucky that the previous owner was a keen gardener herself, as this meant that we didn’t have to do much. Yet, as I love my garden but gardener I am not, I am sure I shall have so much to learn from your website!
    By preference, and lacking in gardening skills, I would say that using turf is the easiest way to lay grass on your garden. Also, as a dog owner, I am thinking it would be very difficult to keep any type of pets away from the newly sown seeds. My lawn is uphill and is entwined with big roots from an Ash Tree we found in the garden. You can imagine how, therefore, the grass may be very musky due to the shade given by the tree branches to the whole area. But I am digressing here!
    Once again, thank you ever so much for your sound advice. I shall definitely be back for more 🙂

    • Hi Giulia. Your garden sounds like a landscapers paradise. I love gardens that are a challenge, big and have a large tree incorporated within them. I can visualise many picnics on your expansive lawn. Unfortunately it sounds like you would be better off seeding your lawn. Turf is easier for flatter smaller lawns. There are many grasses available that would suit a shady lawn. Jim

  18. great article. I have to say that I love a good green beautiful lawn – but besides being not great in the garden (I am trying) the soil is rock hard clay and the native plants and trees grow but little else. I dont know how I would ever be able to have a lawn. If there is a way to make a lawn grow in the rock hard clay around the house I would love to know – otherwise I think maybe a cottage garden may be a necessity. how do you make a lawn grow when nothing likes our dirt?

  19. Hi Corey. The best way to improve rock hard clay soils is to cover the area with Gypsum and then spread at least 3 inches top soil and organic matter –such as compost, manures etc… before putting the soil on top. You will need to look at slope and drainage as well. This process can immediately improve soil aeration and drainage, and will increase the beneficial soil microbes that break down the organic matter and turn it into humus. Jim

  20. This is such an informative article! I was raised in farm country where all we had to do to have a nice lawn was mow it every summer. Now I’m in AZ and lawns are hard work. And we’ve had a bald spot in our lawn since we bought the house. We’ve tried seeding it, and more. I agree that laying sod is the best solution, so thank you for these wonderful step by step and very clear instructions! I’ll be coming back here to make sure we do it right when it cools off!

    • Thanks Stacie. If you have a bald spot in your lawn it could be caused by a section of hard clay type soil. You may have to dig the soil out where the bald spot to about 4 to 5 inches deep and replace with a good organic mix. Jim

  21. I wish I’d had your article in front of me before I started my lawn. I seeded, and it came up fine, but now it has been overtaken by moss. The moss is nice to walk on, but it has choked out a lot of the grass. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Fran. If you have a Moss problem your lawn might be to wet or to shady. Do you have lots of trees in your yard. Sometimes all you need to do is trim the trees and allow in more airflow and sunshine. Another issue can be water pooling and not draining away quick enough. You make have to adjust the drainage of your land to get rid of water faster after rain. Also, if you soil gets to acidic this will contribute to moss growth. You may need to adjust the soils PH level. I hope this information is helpful to you. Jim

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