Preparing for a new lawn
The first thing to contemplate when considering laying a new lawn is;
Do I lay turf ? or do I sow seed ?
Turf is more expensive than seed, but produces a useable lawn much more quickly.
Seed can be sown in early spring or early autumn, and turf at more or less any time, but similar times would be better.
Laying turf during the summer will necessitate regular watering until it establishes.
Whether establishing a lawn from seed, or turf, site preparation is much the same!
Thorough preparation will pay dividends in the long term so do not shirk on this task.
For instance, if the site is subject to flooding, install a soak-away or drainage system from the outset!
Circa Week 6-8 is best for spring sowing / laying, or Week 26-28 for autumn sowing / laying.
Start preparation by removing perennial weeds by hand, or treating the area with a glyphosate based herbicide.
Remove any turf from a previous lawn, do not try to lay a new lawn over an old one as it is unlikely to establish properly.
Dig or rotovate the area to a spade's depth, removing stones and other debris as you proceed.
Avoid doing this task if the soil is wet.
Considering that the lawn may never be dug again, take the opportunity to improve the structure of the soil by digging in liberal amounts of organic matter at this stage, particularly on sandy soils.
Check the pH; as a general rule most grasses grow well when the pH levels are 5.5 - 5.7
Adjust pH levels if necessary.
Add coarse grit to heavy soils, and if the area is subject to water-logging, install a drainage system.
Set out the area to the required gradients by filling in hollows and removing humps.
Doing this task now will improve the general appearance of the finished lawn, and make for easier maintenance in the future.
On completion leave the area to settle for six to eight weeks.
Circa Week 15: for spring sowing/laying, or Circa Week 36 for autumn sowing/laying.
After the settling in period, remove any large stones and dead weeds that may have surfaced, roll the area two or three times in different directions and rake in a balanced fertiliser at a rate of 70g (3oz) per sq metre.
This compaction should prevent the area sinking once the lawn is in place.
The area is now ready for turf or seed.