Starting from scratch by sowing a new lawn can sometimes be the best option for a bigger garden. However achieving your perfect lawn can take some time, and requires good preparation and choosing the right seed. Here are some simple guidelines to help you get started.
What You’ll Need:
Choosing the right lawn seed for your lifestyle
Does the grass always seem greener next door? That’s probably because they have a different grass variety to your own. Choosing grass seed can seem confusing, so start by considering how you plan to use your lawn. Then factor in the basic conditions in your garden and you’re ready to select your seed with confidence.
Everyday lawns: Lawn seed with ryegrass
Need hardwearing grass for recreational use? Choose a lawn seed mix with added ryegrass. This is ideal for lawns where children play, dogs run, etc. It is resilient and will give you good colour all year round.
For a top-quality finish on a picture lawn, choose a premium lawn grass seed mix. This offers a blend of the best varieties of the UK’s natural grasses. It will require higher maintenance but will look superb if treated gently.
Shady lawn: Seed mixture
If your lawn is in shade for much of the day, a special shady lawn grass mixture is ideal. These mixes are carefully chosen as they can survive in difficult areas. Although they are very hardy, you will still have to give your lawn care and attention.
How to sow your own lawn
When sowing a new lawn from scratch, spring and autumn are the best seasons. To achieve some great results you will need to do a bit of planning.
Step 1: Find out how much seed you need
Measure out the proposed lawn area. The easy way is to work out a one-metre pace and then walk the area – e.g. 10m x10m = 100m2. Sowing application rates are mostly 35 grams of seed per square metre, but check the packaging for details. It is better to buy too much rather than too little; you can always use the surplus to reseed any thin patches next season.
Step 2: Prepare the soil
Dig over the soil (the top 2-4 inches) to break down any compaction and help to increase beneficial bacterial levels. Remove stones, weeds and roots as you go along. You can add some soil conditioner to improve the soil and encourage a thicker, greener lawn. If your soil has too much clay you can also mix in some fresh soil. Now you need to level the surface of the soil using a rake to help create an even surface. It is not essential to create a dead flat area at this time, as any small irregularities can be smoothed with a top dressing once the grass has established.
Step 3: Remove newly-germinated weeds
If you leave the site for a few days, any remaining dormant weed seeds (and there will be some) will have time to germinate. Once they do, you can kill them off with a weed killer. A glyphosate-based herbicide will work within hours, killing off the new weed seedlings. Removing all the weeds means that the grass seedlings won’t have to compete for nutrition and space. Leave the soil for 7-10 days after using glyphosate and then apply a high phosphate fertiliser to the surface of the soil.
Step 4: Sow the seeds
Aim to scatter 35g per square metre (35g = a large handful). Sow half the seed from left to right and the rest from top to bottom to achieve an even coverage. Gently rake the seed into the soil. Not all the seeds need to be covered as rainfall or watering will ensure seeds make soil contact.
Step 5: Keep the soil moist
It may be a good time to invest in a sprinkler or a handheld hose attachment – especially if the weather is dry. Keeping the soil moist is needed to encourage good seed germination. However, it is important to water in the correct way. Seedlings need to be kept moist, so water lightly but more often rather than letting the ground dry out and then flooding the area. The best time to water the grass seed is in the evening or early morning. This avoids the harsh midday sun which can scorch and damage newly emerging moist seedlings.
Step 6: Look after the new seedlings
Germination will happen quickly, the exact rate depending on the temperature and prevailing moisture. Continue to lightly water during the early stages of germination (young plants will require more water than normal). A good tip is to feed a week or two after the initial germination using a high phosphate feed. This will ensure new plants have plenty of the right type of food. Water the fertiliser in well.
Step 7: Trim the new grass
Watching the young shoots spring up is exciting, and you will soon think about mowing. Keep an eye on the length of the grass and when it gets to around 5-8cm long aim to trim the grass back just a little to 4cm. New grass plants are fragile and do not have strong root systems, so mow carefully and make sure you use very sharp blades for the first few months. When the new grass is about 4-8 weeks old you can begin to take the mower down to your regular cutting height.
- 35g of seed is approximately one large handful.
- Using the correct plant food will help to quickly establish new grass.
- The ideal height of an average lawn is 2.5cm but avoid cutting the grass to this length within the first few months.