Lawn mowers: How to get a new lawn How to seed a new lawn

Whether you're starting a new lawn from scratch or adding to an existing one, sowing from seed is the cheapest option. We show you how to do it.

Growing a lawn from seed

Pros

  • Cheap - by far the cheapest option and you may have some seed left over to fill any gaps later.
  • Quick and easy - once the ground has been prepared, it is quick and easy to sow and rake in.

Cons

  • Slow to grow - we sowed our seed in mid-May. Although the first shoots appeared within a couple of weeks, it took six weeks and several cuts before it began to resemble a turf lawn.
  • Window of opportunity - it's best to seed a new lawn in the spring or autumn.
  • Pest control - we had to net the area after seeding to prevent the local wildlife helping themselves to the seed. It was another hassle, and added to the time and cost.
  • Untidy - we also had to wait six weeks for the turf to bind together before we could cut the edge, and we had to reseed some sparse patches. It was also easier for weeds to invade the seeded lawn than when we used turf.

A lawn should last for years so it's worth taking your time and getting the soil right. This preparation is just as vital whether you start from grass seed or turf.

Preparing the ground for a new lawn

1.    Roughly dig the area to loosen it and remove any large stones or existing plants, especially any tough perennial weeds such as dandelions. 

2.    Use a soil rake to break up the clods of earth. Then apply gentle pressure with the rake to create a fine, level surface, removing stones, roots and other debris as you go.

3.    Tread the area to firm the soil - shuffle backwards, putting your weight on your heels - then rake the surface again. Repeat the process until the ground is firm and level.

4.    Add a scattering of general-purpose fertiliser - about 35g per sq m of growmore is ideal. Use canes spaced at 1m intervals to achieve an even spread.

How to sow a grass seed lawn

September or May are the best times to sow a lawn. The soil should be warm, and there should be a good chance of showers to save you having to keep watering the new lawn until it's established. As a rough guide, a 30sq m lawn will need a 1kg pack of grass seed. 

1.    Prepare the ground as explained above.

2.    If you haven't done so already, lay garden canes across the area at 1m intervals to help you sow the correct rate of grass seed.

3.    Weigh out 35g of seed and tip it into a plastic cup. Draw a line on the cup and use this cup to judge the amount for each 1sq m. Try to scatter it as evenly as possible - scatter half in one direction and half in the other.

4.    Remove the canes and rake the area gently to work the seed into the soil. Water the area in dry weather and protect the seed from birds using netting or scarers until a green fuzz appears.

5.    Mow the grass when it reaches about 8cm in height and make sure the mower is on its highest setting. Then mow weekly, gradually reducing the grass height down to 2.5cm.

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