How to lay a lawn: simple steps to creating a vibrant green space

How to lay a lawn

A healthy lawn becomes a beautiful, fresh green centrepiece in your garden. We tell you how to lay a new lawn and take care of it.

How to choose the right grass type for your lawn

Different types and mixes of grass are available, and what you choose for your own garden depends on what you need from the lawn you lay. Does your lawn need to be a durable playground? Or are you more interested in a beautiful carpet of green that is made for admiring? Grass seed and turf are generally sold with clear descriptions of how they can be used.

Grass for sport and recreational lawns

The ideal choice for playing, pets and picnics, these grass mixes are also perfect for a family lawn. They contain a high proportion of fast-growing and resilient ryegrass.

Grass for ornamental lawns

To lay an ornamental lawn, you want to use very fine, dense, dark green grass that always looks lush and healthy. Suitable luxury mixes contain plenty of smooth meadow grass which looks appealing – however, it is extremely delicate.

Grass for shady lawns

It’s a good idea to choose a specialist blend of seed if you plan to lay a lawn that has shaded areas, with a lot of tree cover for example. You can use it mixed with other grass seed, or even for overseeding standard turf.

When should I lay a new lawn?

You can lay a lawn at any time of year, but between March and mid-May is ideal: it means the early growth phase of your lawn will not be disturbed by chilly temperatures and there is still likely to be enough moisture to get the grass off to a good start. If you lay a lawn in spring you can expect it to withstand frost, moisture and weeds better than a lawn laid in the autumn.

How to lay a lawn: step-by-step instructions

You don’t need a great deal of expertise to lay a lawn yourself, but you will need a bit of patience. It can take a while after sowing for grass seed to germinate or for turf to take root.

Step 1: preparing the soil

Whether you choose turf or seed, when you come to lay your new lawn preparation of the ground is key. Both methods require much the same preliminary steps.

  • You should ideally first loosen up compacted areas with a tiller (for example, the MH 445 or MH 585) or cultivator. Doing this breaks up deeper soil, which avoids a waterlogged surface and encourages your grass to root more deeply.
  • Remove stones and roots.
  • If necessary, add some sand (if the soil is heavy and contains a lot of clay) or compost and topsoil (if the soil is light and sandy) and rake it in roughly.

Step 2: let the ground settle

  • Now the soil needs to settle, ideally for a week before you lay the lawn – do not skip this step or you may well end up with lumpy grass!
  • On dry ground, you can use a light roller to speed up the settling process; this helps prevent sagging and unevenness further down the line.

Step 3: level and loosen the soil

  • Perhaps the most important consideration for a good-looking lawn is to make sure you lay it on even ground. Use a rake to make the surface flat and uniform.
  • The soil should be finely raked and crumbly for your lawn to grow effectively.

Step 4: lay your lawn and water it

  • Apply a suitable starter fertiliser to the soil, with a spreader or carefully by hand.
  • If you’re using rolled turf for your new lawn, you can start to lay it straight away. Take care not to walk on the prepared soil and use a knife to cut the turf if necessary. Don’t let it dry out as you work.
  • Distribute grass seeds with a spreader or by hand.
  • Don’t use too much seed when you lay your lawn – we recommend approximately 15 to 20 g per square metre. If the lawn is sown too densely, it will not grow well.
  • Gently work the evenly distributed seed into the soil using a spiked or grid roller, to a maximum depth of 1 cm.
  • Finally, water the ground well. Use a spray nozzle or hold the hose vertically to avoid accidentally washing away seed.

How to lay a lawn: follow-up care

  • Watering is essential: keep your new lawn moist for three to four weeks after you lay the turf or sow seed.
  • Don’t tread on a new lawn for a few weeks: seeds need to germinate and turf will root better undisturbed. The lawn will not be durable enough for general use at least until it has been mown for the first time. A new lawn will generally reach full strength after two to three months.
  • To check on your turf, simply try to lift a corner of it after a few weeks – if it has rooted into the ground, you can get the mower out if necessary.
  • For seedlings, wait until the grass has reached a height of approximately 10 cm before you mow it for the first time – be very careful and don’t cut it too short. It is not advisable to cut off more than a third of the length.
  • You won’t need to feed your lawn again for at least a couple of months.

How long do lawn seeds need to germinate?

When you lay a new lawn from seed, the germination time depends on a number of factors such as the weather, soil temperature, type of grass seed used and amount of water it gets. If conditions are perfect, germination takes around seven to 20 days. Steady temperatures plus plenty of sunshine, abundant water and high-quality seed will mean faster germination.

Petrol-powered, electric or cordless lawn mower: the right option for you

Choosing the right lawn mower is the first step to achieving a well-maintained lawn. All of our models combine high quality, clever features and an attractive design.
Note: Make sure your mower blades are sharp before mowing your lawn for the first time, to ensure the delicate blades are cut cleanly, rather than torn and damaged.

See lawn mowers >

A woman relaxes on a garden swing next to a STIHL RMA 339 cordless lawnmower on a green plot

Rolled turf or grass seed?

Although sowing a new lawn from seed is not difficult, it does require a lot of patience. If you lay rolled turf you will see instant results. Ultimately, it depends on how quickly you want an attractive lawn.

Advantages of turf Disadvantages of turf
You just need to unroll turf to lay it, so it becomes a usable lawn much more quickly than seed. If you have a large area to cover, turf is much more laborious to lay than seed.
Turf is already covered with dense grass and so is more resistant to weeds. Using turf is considerably more expensive than sowing grass seed.
Turf is simple to lay. Turf must be laid immediately after delivery, otherwise there is a risk of rotting and discolouration.

Summary: how to lay a lawn

  • Choose a suitable type of grass for your garden
  • Loosen the soil and let it settle for a week
  • Lay your turf or scatter seeds evenly and roll them into the soil
  • Keep the soil constantly moist for three to four weeks
  • Only mow your new lawn with recently sharpened or new blades

How long does a new lawn take to establish?

How long a new lawn takes to establish depends on the aftercare and conditions, as well as the method used to start your lawn. With consistent moisture and perfect weather, seed will germinate within three weeks and be strongly established after three months. Turf is quicker, but still needs a few weeks to set root.

How to lay turf on existing grass?

It is not recommended to lay turf on existing grass, because neglecting to prepare the ground makes it unlikely that a new lawn will establish well: weeds will make their way through and drainage will be poor. Old grass should be lifted and composted, or killed with weedkiller before the ground is tilled and prepared for new turf.

How long do you leave a new lawn before cutting it?

Leave a new lawn alone for several weeks before cutting it. If your lawn is from seed, wait until it is 10 cm tall. If you have laid new turf and you can see it starting to grow, check that it has taken root in the subsoil before you mow it – just gently try to lift up a corner. If it hasn’t rooted yet, mowing is likely to dry it out. Keep the turf moist and check again in a week or so.