Preparing The Site For A New Lawn
Preparing the site to lay a new lawn is essential. Put the
effort in at this stage and you will end up with a good-looking and
hard-wearing lawn. This page will show what to do to prepare the site and when to do it.
Each of the steps described below has a link to a much more detailed
page letting you know what to do in much more detail.
Step 1 Clear Site
To Bare Earth
This step is needed for turf, seed or sprigs and it can't be left
out. First, decide if you need to grade and/or drain the site (see steps
2 and 3). If you do need to grade and/or drain the site you need to
start this task around end May, otherwise it should be started in
the early Autumn.
Clear away and bricks, rubble and piles of soil which may have been
left by the builders. Next remove the existing grass/weeds by stripping
off the top inch (2.5 cm) of soil. This is normally done with a spade,
but have no illusions, it is back-breaking work if the area to be
cleared is large. If you have the money, hire a special tool for this
from your local hire shop.
The top inch of rough grass can be piled up (grass side facing down)
and it will make good compost in about 12 months time.
This step is optional. Look at the site and decide if you want to
level it or change
the contours. Be realistic, this is hard work and the less change the
better. Also consider drainage at this point. It's no good having lots
of little hills and valleys in your garden because water will collect in
the 'valleys' and make the lawn difficult to grow.
Bear in mind one important consideration when moving soil around your
garden, always remove the top soil first. To do this, remove it and
stack it elsewhere in the garden, then change the level of the subsoil.
When the correct level is obtained, replace the top soil. Do not leave
subsoil on the surface, grass will only grow well on
Click here for further illustrated details on how
to level your site.
This step is also optional. If the site is already free-draining,
skip to step 4. This article describes how to incorporate a basic
drainage system, however there are actually three methods of drainage.
Method 1, is suitable for the amateur, methods 2 and 3 would almost
certainly need professional help and equipment.
Method 1 - construct individual soakaways at three or four points in
the lawn. Click here for more details.
Method 2 - drain the whole site at all points with a layer of
free-draining materials under the top soil.
Method 3 - install a herring bone pattern of drainage pipes under the
Digging over the site can be done with a fork or with a mechanical
cultivator. If the size of the area to be dug is large, we would
strongly recommend that you hire a mechanical cultivator from your local
hire shop. Dig to a depth of around 22cm (9 inches).
During the digging process, take the chance to correct the soil pH if
necessary. pH is a measurement of the acidity of your soil. The
ideal pH for grass is a neutral one around 6.5 but anywhere in the range
of 6.0 to 7.5 will be fine. Click
here for details of how to measure soil pH and how to correct it.
At the same time, if the soil is heavy or light, take the following
Heavy soil - work in some lime-free sand to lighten the soil.
Generally about 6 kilos (14 lb) of sand per square metre (yard) should
Light soil - work in as much well-rotted compost as you have
Step 5 Break Down
The Soil and Level
Break up any large large lumps of soil and rake the soil over until
it is even. Rake the soil surface so that it is even and then either
trample over the soil with your feet or go over it with a roller. The
idea is break down the soil into small particles and then compact it
lightly to ensure that there are no air pockets.
At the same time, remove any stones from the top 5cm (2 inch) of
soil. You may well need to repeat this step twice to obtain a reasonably
fine and even surface.
If the lawn is to be laid with turf / sod rather than seeded, skip
the next two steps and return to the previous page (click
The purpose of fallowing the site is to let dormant weed seeds
germinate and then remove them. This will prevent the weeds germinating
when the grass seed is sown.
In order to achieve this, hoe and rake the soil surface clear of weed
seedlings once a month over the summer. Hoeing will remove the weed
seedlings and the raking will encourage any remaining weed seeds to
Step 5 Final
Preparation Before Sowing
Make a final visual check of the soil level. One final raking of the
soil surface should result in an even surface with soil particles no
larger than a grain of wheat.