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Growing a new lawn
advice please

 7:38 am on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am about to move into a new flat, and this flat has a garden. Yay!

The garden is a bit of a mess though, and the 'lawn' is very bumpy, overgrown and generally unmanageable. So I'm thinking of totally digging it over and sewing a new lawn.

There seem to be two options; plant seed or buy turf. Is turf *very* expensive? If it's not, I might go with it for speed.

Does anyone know how long it takes before I will have my new lawn and can walk on it etc if I sew from seed? I don't really want to spend the whole summer with a mud garden :/



 8:22 am on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Seeds every time, turf is so expensive :(

The last place I lived in had a yard as previous owners had kept dogs, I ripped it up, raked it, de-stoned it.

Mix the grass seed with a little sand as this helps to keep the moisture in, sprinkle all over, water and wait.

Usually takes about 4 weeks, then give it a gentle mowing, but not to short.

Birds will eat the seeds, cats will scratch and poop in it, but thats par for the course.

Just keep it nice and moist, best to water it in the evening.



 8:25 am on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Turfing is the quicker solution and will give you an excellent lawn in a much shorter space of time.

A few things to remember before you turf:

The best times to lay turf are between March-June and September-November (UK)

> Weed! - before during and after rotivating you will need to make sure you have pulled up every little weed you can find. the cleaner your topsoil is now the fewer troubles you wil have later.
> Rotivate and rake clean the surface. you need to remove all rocks stones and clots and even the ground to within a couple of inches.
> Compost - there are many types (maybe you have your own) ask in a garden centre they will be able to point you to the bset type for new lawns. Dig it into the topsoil
> As you turf work on planks (to prevent damage to the grass before it bed in) and 'mesh' the edges of the turf as tightly as you can to avoid gaps.
> The turf should be firmly but carefully tapped down using the back of a spade to ensure that the roots and the soil are in good contact.
> Stagger the joints of the turf whilst laying like bricks in a wall.
> Water daily for the first few weeks
> As the lawn begins to take fill in spaces (they will occour) with hand fulls of scattered topsoil
> After a 2-3 weeks give the lawn its first cut.


 8:28 am on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Last summer we took a Bobcat to the weed patch out front, otherwise known as the front lawn. It was leveled, had a layer of clean dirt spread across the top, then I spread grass seed and watered. After about a month it was beginning to look like a lawn again. Now that winter has cleared out that grass is flourishing!

I'm no horticulturist.. in fact I claim to have a brown thumb.. everything I try to grow will die. But that lawn has proven me wrong.

Check around your area for different grass seed mix, too. Some will do better in direct sun, or shade, or grow faster. Sod will do the job too, but I don't believe it has the same level of anticipation/satisfaction that comes from growing your own.


 10:38 am on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Cheers for all the tips guys, I am taking notes :)

turf is so expensive

Can anyone give a rough idea how much I might expect to pay? I am in the UK, and the lawn isn't huge, maybe only about 4x5 metres (I haven't measured it yet so I'm just guessing).


 1:20 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

I haven't got a clue about current costs, but whatever you do don't buy cheap turf. In the long run it is the most expensive option because it is probably cut from what used to be cow pasture and can be full of weeds. Get it from a reputable supplier either a specialist or a garden centre, and pay more for quality weed free cultivated turf. (I speak from bitter experience).


 1:30 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

If you go the turf route, be sure you've checked for grubs, as well...the scurge of the sod farm.


 5:36 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

The cost of turf is going to vary geographically.

Seeding will take about two to three weeks for the first starts to get tall enough for the first mowing. It will be a sparse crop with a lot of soil and weeds growing between, but in two months it will begin to fill in.

However: how well it does in the long run is really all based on the soil and your fertilization/watering. We've got some selfish soil here, clay, rock, low nutrients . . . this is our fourth year and FINALLY have a thick filled-in lawn. But it wasn't easy. We had to water, water, water, and fertilize . . weed and feed . . . the first two years my wife was sure we'd never have a lawn.

So it depends on what's more valuable, your time or the cost of the sod, and what you have to work with for soil.


 7:03 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

I 2nd rocknbil's advice. I too just regrew my back-lawn this year. WATER, WATER, WATER. Then fertilize, then more water. Do not let the seed go more than 24 hours without at least a 1/2 soaking of water.

Be patient with it, and try to stay off the lawn in it's infancy. It'll be thick and green before you know it.


 8:27 pm on Jun 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hydroseeding rocks! You will need to hire someone but much better results than hand seeding and cheaper than sod.


 1:09 pm on Jun 4, 2005 (gmt 0)

When I was in my North London house we had a small lawn which was bumpy and basically a mess and we had little money.
What I did was dig the lawn over with a pick-axe and a fork (it was small!), level it and compact it a little. Then, lots of water as above. Yes, I did it early spring. By summer we had a respectable looking lawn :)
The weeds that were included in the original lawn came out easily as they grew and the original grass just found it's way to the top. Very quickly, I had a new lawn at no financial outlay! Just a lot of work.
If you seed, be very careful when cutting it the first few times, be sure the cutter is 'sharp'. Oh, and try not to tread down the seedlings.....
Oh, and apart from sand, why not mix in a little ant powder, ants are hungry beggars and will tell their friends where the free meal is!

I put down a seed lawn here in Spain, about 15 years ago. Cost me a fortune in seeds, ant powder, water and work, but it did eventually look pretty good. That was a very hardy grass, think it's called gramma.
Good luck!


 2:04 pm on Jun 6, 2005 (gmt 0)


Well there seems to be plenty of that around here at the moment :/

I think that barring financial or other practical problems, I'm very tempted to go the turf route. Does anyone know, can I walk on the turf straightaway once it's laid, or do I have to wait a few hours/days/weeks?


 2:27 pm on Jun 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

do I have to wait a few hours/days/weeks?

I'd leave it until after the 1st cut. But a week should be long enough.


 7:43 am on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)


The lawn area is finally dug. Have decided to go the seed route. I was going to choose turf because I wanted my lawn quickly, but I have now learned that there is *nothing* quick about any of this. Digging is really hard work, it's taken us this long just to do that! So I figure a few more weeks isn't a big deal. Will be planting the seed this week so I'll keep you updated.

Cheers for all the advice so far :)


 12:02 pm on Jul 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

I haven't seen it mentioned here yet, but you'll want to be sure to spread your seed on "rough" ground. By that I mean smooth and level, but with the surface all scratched and furrowed up with a rake. Otherwise, you'll wash all your seed to the lower spots the first time you water it.


 11:23 am on Jul 17, 2005 (gmt 0)

Lawn update:

Well, it's been about a week and a half after seeding, and I do have the beginnings of a (somewhat patchy) lawn. But if you are correct rocknbil, hopefully this will thicken out after a while.

Bizarrely, one strip of land, about a foot wide, is thick and lawn-like. The only thing I can put this down to is that this patch gets shade, and the rest doesn't.

I'm not sure if the present heat wave is the best time to be growing a lawn - it's been up to 30C almost every day since we seeded.

My husband is impatient though, and he wants to rake and plant more seed in the gaps. But I think perhaps we should wait a while in case we are disturbing new seedlings?


 1:17 am on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

As long as it's growing I would wait another week or two before reseeding the patches.. just in case. The heat/direct sunlight is probably a factor too. It might not hurt to give it a light/cooling watering during the heat of the day, and a more thourough watering in the cool of the night.


 2:27 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

30C isn't very hot. With plenty of water, grass does very well in heat and can, in fact, experience its greatest growth under very hot and humid conditions. Here in Central Illinois, we're at around 95F (35C) and some of our grass is turning brown and withering - but we also haven't had any real rain for at least two months. If we were able to water the lawn well, it would be doing great.

Your grass should fill in nicely over the summer and early fall, but it probably won't actually be thick and lush for another year or so. Overseed in the fall and fertilize the lawn - that will do it a lot of good.


 3:39 pm on Jul 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure if the present heat wave is the best time to be growing a lawn....

This is correct, it's a bad time of year for seedlings to grow but not a lot you can do about it other than trying to keep it damp, which is like trying to keep sand in a sieve. It will explode on you next spring though. Even some of the seedlings that aren't sprouting this summer will come up.

It's also notable to mention that as it warms up, grass nearly stops growing. I was mowing at least once a week up to June and have only mowed twice since, so the growth rate slows down a lot. Patience is also an important ingredient. :-)


 12:39 pm on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Looks like rocknbil's experience is different than mine. ;) Actually, I've noticed the very same thing, under most circumstances. But I've also observed that grass, kept well-watered, can thrive in heat. Just make sure your lawn gets lots of water and it should be fine.

Note that some people don't recommend watering grass once it's a couple weeks old. The idea is that it needs to develop a deep root system, which it won't do if its used to getting easy water near the surface. Might be worth some thought.


 3:20 pm on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

30C isn't very hot.

It is in England! Slightly cooler weather has now returned though.

We have been aiming to water it plenty, but there was one day we were away, and one day I *ahem* forgot....

I think I will concentrate water on the patchy areas, and water twice a day if it gets really hot again.

Thanks for all the tips :)


 3:31 pm on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

Remember you dont have to do it all at once. I layed sod at the front of my house to get it looking good fast. Then at the side where there were several acres to manage I laid grass seed later on.

My point is that you could clear a bit of the lawn and lay sod so you can use it this summer. Then do the rest later as your budget permits. Just dont let the old lawn creep onto the new.


 3:58 pm on Jul 19, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>30C isn't very hot.

It is hot in Canada too!

We switched to the metric system when I was in grade 7, so I can converse in both farenhiet and celsius. I guess that would make me bilingual.

Just a note on lawns that turn brown. They are not dead, just in dormant stage. But if it happened to your seedlings, you will likely need to re-seed in the fall.


 1:21 pm on Jul 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

A friend of mine, famous for is story telling and sharp wit, once declared to a lunch table discussing the aggravations of summer lawn care, "I do nothing to promote the growth of grass".

"I do nothing to promote the growth of grass."

Think about it.

My respect for his intelligence clicked up a point.

Sarah Atkinson

 5:18 pm on Jul 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

YOur seeds will germinate faster if you put them in the fridge first. also only lightly cover them with straw. The strw helps keep mostiure in butyou don't want to smother them either. We have zoisa grass here. it provides a great turf but you plant plugs and not seed. it then spreads by runners.

I'd also try to stay away from tall fiscu (sp)

I have this great grass here I love it. but I don't know what kind it is. it stays realy short and dense, spreads with runners, super soft and is almost sage green. very thin blade. Anyone know what it might be? sticklyme if you have a clue (indiana)

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