The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect Lawn
Little tops off a finished garden more than a beautiful lawn. To achieve your chosen splash of verdant green, you have three major options. Firstly, by re-seeding you can achieve a much improved lawn which, as I’ll explain, takes a little effort and sweat. Secondly, you can re-lay, which seems to be the most popular choice. And thirdly, the choice of those pushed for time and convenience, a layer of lower maintenance Astroturf.
Why choose top quality turf?
- for a healthy, beautiful and lush-green sward and finish
- hard-wearing, durable and less expensive over the longer term
- Pre-fertilised and lower maintenance
- grows well on all soil types [including clay]
Does re-seeding actually work?
- yes and no! If your surface isn’t turned over seeds will simply blow away
- it is imperative not to over-sprinkle seeds to allow for normal growth
- don’t forget to water, and to keep all feet from your re-seeded area till re-established
- seeds need time to establish themselves so all these factors help in growing a successful lawn
- Astroturf is a godsend to the non-green fingered, or those too pushed for time to spend hours on gardening
- it’s easily cleanable, no mowing or weeding
- can cover any flat surface and is easily joinable when covering larger areas
- safe for small children to play on and is animal-friendly
Planning, Tips & Advice
Re-seeding seems the easiest option
Re-seeding may seem the easiest option in ‘just sprinkling a few seeds across a tired, thinned-out lawn”, but you’ll need to loosen the soil to allow your seeds to grow, scatter a little compost to boost re-growth and realise that the lawn has become that way for a reason!
So, where do I start?
Using a garden fork, prepare the offending area by turning over and levelling the soil ready for seeding. Trim down the remaining grass and scatter your seeds. Follow this process up by a further scattering of fertilizer or compost. Your lawn may have worn away due to excess use, or maybe your earth has lost many of its usual nutrients through erosion. The fertilizer/compost will help revitalize, while a larger area can be worked with the hire of a Rotivator or Turf-cutter to save on time and effort.
What do you recommend for treating my new grass?
We normally recommend a treatment heavy in phosphates, which should improve the quality of your surface substantially. Even lawns and grass get hungry. A phosphate fertilizer is the equivalent of a slap-up meal, again, with reference to your local, friendly garden centre regarding brands and contents.
If you’ve never re-surfaced before…
- opt for one of the re-surfacing methods and consult your garden centre or gardener on product and amount to be used?
- dig up area needing seeding, level and sprinkle with fertilizer, possibly also with compost
- don’t over-sow the area with too many seeds
- use relevant tools based on size of area to be revitalized
- during summer months, ensure to water regularly to allow your seeds to take to the new surface, or your new coverage to grow
There’s little doubt that laying a new turf lends a certain freshness to any garden. Again, nothing comes easy but re-turfing is yet another of those jobs that take a little time and patience. It is also another that requires a little research; in to cost, and then after-care and maintenance.
Where to start?
First task is to identify the area you want to cover, de-weed and level. There are many small tricks of the trade that gardeners employ to de-weed a garden, especially as many conventional weed killers contain many a chemical, some of which travel to other plants doing irretrievable damage. The following are far less damaging to children and pets, too.
Some of these tricks include a vinegar and soap mix, salt solution, or maybe a mix of the three ,which you spray on those demonic weeds. Another is using a dedicated weed burner, which runs on butane gas. This will remove most weeds, although the hardier types [such as Mares Tail] will take two or three sessions of burning until the roots and finally destroyed. The less hardier will only need a few seconds rather that burning to a crisp, while the old-fashioned laying of bin liners is time-consuming yet effective by denying light to the offending weeds. It’s worth noting that this is a wholly inconvenient method if you need to complete a task in a hurry.
So what’s next?
Once your ground is de-weeded and levelled, with help from our old friend the spirit level, we are ready to rock and roll, literally. You have already measured your area to be covered allowing a small overhang, which will allow you to cut and fit in the same way that a carpet fitter goes about his business. Once your lawn has been rolled out and fitted, making special care not to leave gaps or bumps, you will be ready to shape your edges.
What kind of cutter would you suggest?
Some builders will use a simple sharp edged tool, while others swear by serrated edges, which apparently render cutting easier. Once you are happy that your lawn is flat and tapered to size, gently tamper down to allow your lawn connection with the earth below and leave for a couple of days before full usage. Of course, you should have cut that lawn perfectly to size, but in the case of any miscalculation, try using a little compost to fill the gaps and sprinkle with a little seed, then water. Always ensure that all rolls of turf have connected, again, joining with a little compost.
Will the use of chemicals affect the rest of the garden?
- yes, if used in large quantities and used indiscriminately
- try to ensure that you spray only where needed and avoid trickles of solvents running down to other plants, flowers and bushes
- There are many de-weeding solutions to read up on, including weed-burners, vinegar, salt and detergent – or a recommended combination
- Constantly use a spirit level to keep your work straight and congruous
- When measuring your stretch of turf ensure to leave a small overhang to allow for fitting, in the same way you’d lay a carpet
- Ensure that gaps are not left, working the turf together, possibly with compost or quality earth
- Tamper down your turf to connect with the under-surface using a little sprinkling of water
- Leave to settle for two or three days and avoid immediate use
In recent times, the use of Astroturf has become extremely popular. Astroturf is convenient, saves inordinate mowing through the summer and is the perfect surface for children to play their games all year round, and safely. Again, you will face choices of thickness, quality and cost, and even colour if opting for something a little more adventurous than the conventional green.
Where do I begin?
Again, building a border around your chosen area is a great way of beginning this task once you have measured up, using our friend the spirit level to keep square and congruous. De-weed and level, ensuring that you cover the entire area with a black de-weeding membrane and a level of sharp sand sub-base. The membrane will stop all light feeding those weeds and ultimately kill off all growth.
So, I’m squared off and de-weeded, what’s next?
Once you have compacted and levelled the sharp sand, it will be time to lay your Astroturf, once again slightly over-measuring to allow for cutting in the edges, and trying not to drag the sand or you will end up with an uneven surface again. If needing to join two or more pieces, you will need some adjoining tape, which is hidden under the join to stop any residue movement.
Any tips to keep in mind?
When laying multiple pieces, please make sure that you lay each with a congruous pile direction. You will automatically know if you’ve done this wrongly as your new Astroturf covering will have a centre-parting! Once cut, flattened and compacted, taped and trimmed, your Astroturf will prove a tough and hardy surface; easy to clean and maintain, while being a permeable surface will allow water to run naturally away.
We have foxes in our garden, and a family dog. How do I deal with their deposits?
If Rover has one of his little indiscretions, scoop up the offending pile and clean or brush with a little soapy water topped up with a drop of disinfectant.
- Identify your area to cover and build a border to frame your Astroturf. Most are framed in timber
- De-weed and level, then cover the entire area with a black membrane cover, which denies weeds light to grow. This is imperative to save on future maintenance.
- Once again, over-measure a little to allow fitting, and if joining two pieces use a suitable Astroturf tape under the two adjoining pieces. This will stop any residue movement, of course, ensuring that both pieces are laid with the pile facing the same way
- Astroturf is easy to clean and can be hosed down with water, which will require sweeping away. Any pet mess should be disposed off, then watered down with soapy water