Grass seed is the cheapest way to create a new lawn. The team at Turfonline offer advice on choosing and sowing grass seed.
The 8 stages in creating a new lawn from grass seed
- Clear the area of vegetation and debris
- Dig or rotovate the soil to a depth of at least 15cm. Bring in fresh topsoil if necessary
- Rake and level the surface until you have a fine tilth
- Incorporate some pre-seeding/turfing fertiliser
- Choose the right type of grass seed for your lawn
- Sow the seed evenly but not too thickly
- Keep the soil moist and protect from birds until the grass is growing strongly
- Your new lawn can have its first cut when the grass reaches around 7.5cm tall
Clear the area of any vegetation and debris
Any plants, weeds and remains of an old lawn need to be taken away before you can create a new lawn from grass seed. Either use a sharp spade to lift old turf and plants from the surface, or apply a systemic weedkiller such as Roundup. If you choose weedkiller, it will take 3 weeks or so to kill the roots and leaves of the plants.
A family lawn needs to cope with all sorts of activities. Choose a grass seed that will grow into a hardwearing lawn.
Dig or rotovate the soil
For a really strong, healthy lawn, the grass plants need to be able to send their roots deep into the ground. Digging the soil breaks up any compaction and opens up the structure so that water can penetrate and roots can grow.
Rake and level the soil surface
A bumpy lawn will be difficult to mow so this stage of ground preparation is crucial for a beautiful lawn in the future. As you work, remove any large stones and old roots.
Once your lawn-to-be is nice and level, firm it down with your feet. A fluffy seed bed will sink whenever you walk on it. Unless the area is firmed down at this stage, you’ll have footprint sized depressions all over your lawn.
Preparing soil for grass seed
Incorporate some pre-seeding feed
Apply a granular feed to the surface of your soil and gently rake it in. This will make sure that your there is plenty of goodness in the ground to help your new grass plants to thrive.
The Turfonline team recommends Rapid Roots which is just bursting with essential plant nutrients.
Choose the right type of grass seed for your lawn
There are many different types of grass seed available to buy. All that choice can be quite confusing. For a family lawn, select a seed mix that contains
- Perennial ryegrass for durability
- Fescue grasses for a velvety texture
- Smooth stalked meadow grass for an element of self repair.
Sow seed evenly but not too thickly
Don’t be too generous with grass seed
The biggest mistake that most people make when sowing grass seed is to put too many seeds in too small an area. It doesn’t need to be slathered on thickly. Each seed will make a plant. Each plant needs room to grow and plenty of daylight. When plants are too close together they become sickly and weak. Sometimes a fungal disease will attack crowded seedlings and kill them. Just like salt on your chips – it’s better to go sparingly and then add later if you think it needs it.
3 – 5 grams per square metre is the recommended sowing rate for grass seed.
Lightly run the rake over the surface to part cover the grass seed. Grass seed does not need to be buried deep in the soil, a couple of millimetres deep is plenty.
Keep the soil moist until the grass is growing strongly
All plants need water. As soon as you have finished sowing your grass seed, give the soil a good soak. Use a sprinkler attachment on your hosepipe – the water needs to fall gently onto the soil, otherwise it could wash the seed away.
Don’t let the soil dry out until the grass is growing really strongly. If you’re lucky, Mother Nature will help you out with some rain.
How long does grass seed take to grow?
It all depends on the weather but provided the soil is damp and warm (above 6 degrees celcius), you can expect to see green shoots within 10-14 days.
It takes around 6 months until the plants are strong enough for heavy traffic so please be gentle with your lawn in the first few months.
When to give your new lawn its first cut
Mow your new lawn when the grass is 7.5-8.5 cm long. It’s important that your mower blades are nice and sharp and that you only cut off the top 1cm of growth. It’s best to collect the clippings for the first few cuts as they could suffocate the young plants if they are left on the surface.
For help and advice
The team at Turfonline are always happy to answer your questions on any aspect of lawn growing. Here’s how to contact us.