Sunday, 29 May 2011


The best time to sow grass seed is mid to late autumn, when the weather conditions are warm enough to help seed germinate but cooler than the summer with sufficient rain will help to establish the grass.  Seed can also be sown in late spring but it may require additional watering during establishment.

Preparing an area for lawn
Prepare the area to be grassed by removing all debris and vegetation. You will need to use a herbicide such as glyphosate if perennial weeds are present and this should be applied a month before you lay the turf.

You need to ensure you have 15 mm depth of suitable top soil onto which to sow seed. Remove all large stones and roots to this depth and dig over the bed to a medium tilth using a fork, or a rotavator for larger areas. You may wish to bring in screened top soil to achieve sufficient depth for planting, which should be incorporated into the soil when cultivating.  Using a rake even out all bumps and hollows.  Level to a gradient of 1:100 to ensure that the lawn is not completely flat and that rainwater does not pool on the surface.

Level the soil gently to remove air pockets, but you do not want to compact the soil or cause damage to the soil structure. Choose a dry day to level the soil by treading across the bed in small over lapping steps or rolling.  Do not do this when the soil is wet as this will damage the soil structure. Level the surface to a fine tilth with a rake afterwards, removing any stones and debris that appears on the surface.  Repeat treading and raking several times until a firm and level surface is achieved.

Incorporate a general fertiliser such as Growmore into the soil a week prior to sowing seed.

Sowing a lawn
Carry out a final level of the lawn bed. Choose a seed mixture that is appropriate to your needs. Sow the seed at a rate of 45g/m2, sowing first across the lawn and then in the opposite direction up and down.  You can do this either by hand or using a pedestrian grass seed distributer. Use wooden boards to avoid treading on the newly sown lawn and compacting the soil.

Rake lightly after sowing and water gently.  Continue to water as necessary to ensure establishment.  Grass seed usually germinates in 1-3 weeks, depending on the temperature of the soil.  You may wish to hang some old CDs nearby to deter birds from eating the seed.

When grass reaches a height of 5-7 cms lightly roll it using back cylinder of a mower (do not cut the grass).  This encourages seedlings to develop more shoots.  Cut the grass two weeks later with a mower set with its blades on high setting, gradually lowering the blades over the season to get the desired mowing height. This gently lowering of cutting height will prevent the grass from getting stressed and help to establish a healthy lawn.

For related articles click onto:
Feeding plants
Grass maintenance - laying turf
Grass maintenance - sowing a lawn from seed
History of the lawn

How to build a cold frame
How to make compost

How to grow a lawn from seed
Non-grass lawns
Paths - Brick paving
Preparing a seed bed
Tree size

Lawn care
Laying concrete
Using pedestrian mowers

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