Making a New Grass Lawn – Seed or Turf?
Gardenare usually the most used but least cared for part of the garden. As much as the vegetable and flower areas they need feeding, watering and , as well as regular mowing.
A good garden lawn is a combination of suitable grasses to start with and good care afterwards. And to a large extent the use to which it will be put governs the type of lawn that can be expected. A play lawn will naturally be coarse as it must be made up of a mixture of hard-wearing species. On the other hand, a lawn area that is there merely as a foil for the surrounding flower beds, one which is rarely trodden, can be most immaculate if made up of the fine-leaved grasses that respond so well to dedicated care.
Making a New Garden Lawn
If the top-has been cleared by a bulldozer during construction of the house, it may be necessary to buy in good top-soil to replace it.
Although drainage on most soils is likely to be adequate, on heavy clay it may be necessary to lay land drains. To do this, cut trenches 30- 45cm (1- 1-1/2ft) deep across the site, following any fall in the land, and lay 7.5cm (3in) diameter pipes end to end so that there is a slight fall from one side to the other, cover with gravel and replace soil. As water will be discharged from the lower end, a deep soakaway must be provided if there is no convenient ditch.
Once these preparations are complete, cover the whole area with a 2.5 5cm (1- 2in) layer of well-decayed garden, moss peat or well-rotted manure. Also apply a specially formulated lawn fertilizer or a general one such as Growmore, at about 70-100g per sq m (2-3oz per sq yd), and fork it into the top 10 15cm (4- 6in) of soil.
After treading the soil thoroughly, rake over the whole area, making it as smooth and level as possible. Try to do this at least a month before sowing, to allow weed seeds to germinate. These can then be killed by hoeing or using a suitable weedkiller.
Seed or Turf?
Whether to sow seed or lay turf is always a problem. Seed probably gives the best long-term results and the grasses to be sown can be selected to suit the uses to which the lawn will be put. Turfing produces a sward much quicker, but is about four times more expensive, and it is not usually possible to specify the grasses you want. Most turf has been removed from sites destined for building and may well contain a fair proportion of.
A Grass Lawn from Seed
Seed mixtures can usually be bought in two distinct qualities: hard-wearing or fine-leaved, although a mixture for use in shady areas is also available.
For a hard-wearing lawn the main ingredients will be perennial ryegrass (), chewing’s fescue (Festuca rubra commutata), and crested dog’s tail (Cynosurus cristatus). The ryegrass spreads by means of questing underground stems and is not recommended for use in a lawn which has no clear-cut edge, as it can spread into adjacent borders and may be difficult to remove.
For a fine lawn, chewing’s fescue is the basic ingredient, with a little brown top bent (tenuis) added. It is worth paying more for this mixture and buying it from a reputable seedsman. If coarser grasses are included, they will soon dominate the fine ones and the lawn will lose its velvety appearance.
Mixtures for shade usually include the rough-stalked and smooth-stalked meadow grasses (Poa trivialis and P. pratensis respectively), together with creeping red fescue (Festuca rubra rubra).
Sowing is best done in late summer or early autumn, especially in areas where droughts are not infrequent in late spring and early summer. Otherwise late spring is also suitable, but watering is likely to be necessary in dry seasons.
Choose a still day, and mark off a few square metres (yards) with pegs and sow the recommended weight of seed within each. After three or four areas have been sown you will have a good idea of the rate of cover required. Finally, rake over the ground gently so that most of the seeds are just covered. Protect from birds with sticks and cotton thread (nylon may injure the birds).
A Lawn from Turf
Laying a lawn with turves is a heavier job, and individual turves must be of the same thickness to get a level lawn. Be prepared to pare off any thick ones or add extra soil beneath those that are too thin.
Mark the outline of the lawn with pegs and string before starting, especially if it is irregular. Lay the first row along one edge of the lawn, then place a plank on these turves and work forward across the area, staggering the joints. If the area is irregular in shape, lay the edges first so that any pieces which have to be cut or patched are in the middle of the lawn.
Water the new lawn if a dry spell follows, and do not allow anyone to walk on the lawn for the first few weeks. It may need cutting after about a month, although it is best to leave it until spring if laid in the autumn.