How To Establish A New Lawn From Seed

Planning on creating a new lawn from seed? Maybe your current lawn is past it's best and you need to start again, this could be a result of too many weeds taking over or just lack of care for a number of years. Maybe you want to rip up some concrete or slabs and add a green area to your garden instead. Either way, creating a new lawn from seed can be a good way to go. It's much cheaper than using turf (especially if you need to cover a large area) and while it requires patience and some extra work, the results can be just as good. If not better! Here's how to go about it.

Preparation really is key. Try taking shortcuts here, and you will most definitely regret it further down the line when your lawn is lopsided or refusing to grow. To prepare the ground, you need to begin by removing any weeds from the area. This is so important, as if they're left in the ground they will quickly take over your new lawn and you'll have to start again. Use a contact weed killer to spray any live weeds and wait until they die off, this ensures that the root system is dead. You can then go around and pull them up by hand. Don't use a residual weed killer that stays in the soil, as of course this will stop your grass seed from germinating. 

Next you need to properly rotovate the ground, you will need to turn over at least the first eight to ten inches of soil. You may be able to do this with a spade, but if your ground is very compacted, hire a rotovator. Dig in some organic matter (if you are using manure make sure it is well rotted or the ground could sink unevenly) which will provide nutrients and goodness. After this is done, you will ideally leave it for a number of weeks to settle, and continue to remove any weeds that germinate. 

Levelling the ground is crucial. Any small hills and dips will create a lumpy looking lawn. This will make it difficult to mow and overall won't give a good finish. Continually raking and treading on the area in different directions will leave you with a level surface. Once it has been trodden on and firmed, you can then rake again in different directions ready for your grass seed. 

The good thing about sowing a lawn from seed is that you get control over what type of grass or grasses you want your lawn to be made up of. You can choose a hardwearing blend if you plan on using your lawn for regular family life. Or you could choose a delicate ornamental grass if your garden is more landscaped. You can find grasses that are suitable for shady areas, sunny areas etc. So decide on the kinds of thing you're after and choose your seed accordingly. Evenly spread the seeds across the surface following the pack or suppliers instructions. The seeds should be lightly covered with soil to stop birds getting to them but not 'planted'. Cover them over too much and they won't germinate. 

The middle of spring and early autumn are the two best times of year to grow grass seed. This is because the weather is mild and there's plenty of rain. You will be able to get a lawn started in summer, but it will be much more difficult. Soil temperature needs to be between nine and twelve degrees celsius to germinate which is between March and September in the UK. So there's no point trying to seed a lawn very early or very late in the year. You will need to keep the seed bed moist once your seeds are down, but how often exactly depends on the time of year and level of rainfall. If the ground starts to feel dry, give it a good water. Use a sprinkler nozzle on your hose to stop jets of water moving the seeds around or dislodging young grass plants.

Once your seeds have been sowed, you can expect to see small grass shoots popping up after around two weeks. Be patient, sometimes it takes a little longer. You will need to keep people and pets off it for as long as possible (ideally one season) but at least a few weeks. Don't cut the lawn until it's around three inches high, and only take around an inch off at a time. This will encourage it to grow without killing it off. 

Have you ever successfully established a lawn from seed?