Before you get started
When plants spill out of a border, onto the lawn, it can make mowing difficult. If you border the lawn with brick or slabs, set just below the level of the grass, this won't be a problem. You won't need to maintain neat grass edges to beds either.
With rolls of turf you can quickly make an instant lawn as a green backdrop to flowers and foliage. It is simple to maintain and the perfect place to relax and entertain.
The lawn is often the focal point of a garden and an important element of garden design, but it is relatively easy to prepare and maintain a good-looking lawn and make the garden look better than ever.
Rolls of turf are heavy, particularly if they contain a lot of moisture. You may need help lifting them into position.
Lawn edges that border walls or fences are not easy to cut with a lawnmower, so consider buying a strimmer to keep edges neat. Alternatively, for small lawns, some garden shears will do the job just as well. Long-handled edging shears are useful to avoid bending over.
Consider laying paths on the more walked on routes across the lawn. The grass in well-trodden areas is always fighting to survive and a path or stepping stones may be the solution, and will also add another feature to the garden.
Remove existing grass with a spade, before digging or rotivating the area to be turfed to a depth of about 15cm. Clear remaining stones and weeds.
Rake the ground to smooth the surface then firm with your feet or with a roller. Repeat the process until the ground is level and the soil is firm.
To establish turf more quickly, spread granular pre-turf fertiliser over the prepared soil – about 70g per square metre – and rake it in lightly.
Measure out and mark the boundaries of the intended lawn area with a line strung between metal pins, or use some wooden pegs if you prefer.
Make sure the soil is level with adjacent hard surfaces like paths and patios before you lay turf so that you will be able to mow up to them easily.
Lay the long edges of turf against the boundary line. Then cut the turf to fit with a long-bladed knife or lawn edger.
Work from a straight side, on a board placed on turfs you have already laid, to lay turf across the site. Butt edges and stagger joints so that there are no gaps.
When all the turf is laid, you can peel back the turf to fill any hollows with fine topsoil and gently brush topsoil into any gaps you may have left.
Tidy edges with a long-bladed knife or lawn edger. Curved edges are easily marked with a hose pipe or trail of kiln-dried sand.
A proper, thorough watering immediately after laying will help establish the turf and ensure that the lawn flourishes for years to come.
Maintain a lawn
Grass needs nutrients. Apply granular feed, weed and mosskiller twice a year, accurately by hand, or with a purpose-made spreader.
In small areas, liquid feed will instantly boost the lawn, as well as promote vigorous root growth and improve its general health.
The lawn will recover quickly and look fantastic if you remove dead moss with a wire rake or scarifier after applying a moss control product.
After raking, apply 20g per square metre (about a handful every two square metres) of grass seed, to thicken the lawn.
Spike compacted lawn with a garden fork to a depth of 6cm at 30cm intervals to prevent poor growth, weed invasion and moss.
Top dressing is not essential but really improves the look of the lawn. Apply a spadeful every square metre and brush in if you have spiked the lawn.
If you have a rotary or cylinder mower with adjustable cutting heights, keep the first cuts of the season high. Reduce this as the season progresses.
When grass is growing fast, cut it once or twice a week, if possible at right angles to the previous cut. Mow less often in dry weather.
Close mowing – leaving less than 10mm – deprives grass roots of nutrients. Grass that is cut higher needs less cutting and is more drought resistant.
Trim grass edges once a year with a lawn edger, preferably in the spring, to neaten edges and stop it from spreading beyond its borders.