21/04/2014

Grow your own lawn

Traditionally mid spring to late autumn is the optimal time to grow your own lawn. The weather is warmer (optimum grass growing temperature is between 6 and 20 Celsius) and the soil is still moist providing suitable conditions to promote good grass growth. Growing your own grass is cheaper than laying new turf, and once the seed has been laid requires very little work.

Required garden tools
 
Before you sow your grass seed you need to prepare the soil, and ensure you have all the garden tools you need. To grow your own grass you will need; 

• Watering can or hose with a thin spray attachment
• Garden rake
• Garden fork
• Tape measure & string
• Lawn seed 

Preparing the soil 

No matter what size area you are planning on sowing your grass seed, you will need to prepare the soil correctly if it is to stand a chance to grow. This is true whether you are simply trying to cover up a bald patch in your lawn, or grow an entirely new lawn from scratch. 

Before sowing any grass seed remove any weeds and dead or dying grass. This will ensure that nothing is competing with the grass seed for nutrients. In some instances where many weeds are present you may need to spray these with weed killer first. If this is the case, you may then need to wait 4-6 weeks for all the weed killer to leave the lawn, otherwise it may kill your grass seed. 

Once you have removed all the weeds and dead grass, fork over the soil before raking it. Break up any large clumps of soil and remove any stones. Once the soil is level, gently firm the soil by walking across it. Gently re-rake to remove any footprints. 

Sowing the seed 

Next measure out the area you want to grow grass and sow your grass seed. Break the area up into square metres and mark this out using some string. 

Grab your box of lawn seed and give it a good shake. Use roughly 50g of lawn seed per square metre, or as advised on the packet. Cover the area evenly with the seed before removing the string from the lawn, and gently raking over the seed to cover most of it in soil. It is important that the seed is touching the soil, or even better slightly covered. If the seed is not touching or covered in soil, the grass roots will not grow into the ground allowing sustainable grass growth. 

Once you have sown the grass seed give the seed a light watering. Continue to lightly water the lawn seed every few days if the soil becomes dry. When watering your lawn seed, ensure you always use a fine spray. Large water droplets will move the seed causing uneven growth. 

Aftercare 

After laying your seed the last thing you want is to have it ruined by birds. You may want to cover your seed with some horticultural netting to prevent birds from eating it. If you do not have this you may want to lay 50% more seed to compensate for the seed that the birds will eat. 

When the seed has grown to around 2-3 inches in height, gently firm up the soil with a roller or by gently walking across it. Use a lawnmower to gently cut 20% off the height of the new grass. Any more than this will harm the grass and the chances of it growing. Before mowing the grass check that your lawnmower is on the right cutting height and the blade is sharp. 

Try and avoid walking on the new grass for about 2-3 months if possible. 

Choosing lawn seed 

Not all lawn seed is the same. Before sowing your grass seed you should consider the type of grass you want to grow and the type of grass that is capable of growing in your garden. 

Most gardens in the UK will require a hardwearing multi-purpose lawn seed. These are good for gardens that are used for example by children or pets. 

For areas or gardens that are shaded, a shade resistant lawn seed should be used. These grasses will grow much better in shadier areas of the garden for example behind garden sheds. 

Lastly cheaper isn’t always better. Cheaper garden lawn seeds are more likely to contain more weed seeds, therefore more premium lawn seed is recommended for a carpet like finish.

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