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Lawns - buying sod or sowing from seed!

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#1 peggysue



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Posted 22 April 2009 - 12:57 PM

Hi all
digging up my garden this weekend to make way for new lawn.

I am thinking that I will probably buy some 'ready made lawn' to lay, rather than sow it from seed, as I would like to have a lawn for the summer rather than wait until the end of summer to sow it, which I understand is the best time.

Does anyone have experience of either of these methods and does anyone know any local or online suppliers of lawn that they would recommend?


#2 gekko



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Posted 22 April 2009 - 02:55 PM

I've no experience to impart I'm afraid but Secret Garden had ready-made lawn in when I was there a couple of weeks ago.
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#3 moc


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Posted 22 April 2009 - 03:03 PM

I have bought 'ready-made' turf before, in my old house, and laying it is incredibly easy. The 'difficulty' is in preparing the area that needs to be turfed, but then you would need to do this anyway if you were going to sew from seed - have fun digging!

ps here's a quick guide to laying turf.
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#4 Anthony



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Posted 23 April 2009 - 06:15 AM

Good morning PeggySue

I had a new lawn sown three summers ago and the guy that did it for me thought that seeding
was a better option, please don't ask me why because I do not know. I do know that my
neighbour just up the road did use turf for his garden and has to renew it pretty often.
The Gardner prepared the old lawn (lawn ha) by just dumping a layer of humus onto it, levelled
it of etc. and scattered the seeds onto it in the usual way, this was in the middle of summer
hot and dry with no sign of rain forever, leaving us with the advice "Keep it wet for two weeks"
which after a visit to the garden-centre for a rotary sprinkler and a long length of hose I did.
Maybe a problem in a country that has a watering ban most summers?
Now every spring I give it a coating of fertilizer with general weed killer and although we only
use it to wander around and look at the flowers with a cup of tea in our hand I expect to be
contacted by FC Muenchen with a view to letting their players practice on it.
But don't use the seed that we used unless you enjoy cutting the lawn or maybe own a few sheep.
I thought that I might come back in about three hundred years and see if it's turned into anything.
Mind your back Anthony (a Buddy Holly fan)

#5 peggysue



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Posted 23 April 2009 - 08:41 AM

Hmm thanks for the useful advice everyone! i think the decision will probably come down to how much turf costs, if i can afford it i will probably go with that option as its not a huge area we need.

#6 James



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Posted 23 April 2009 - 11:25 AM

Homebase will do 40 rolls of turf for 180. It covers an area of 40 square metres.

They do 60 rolls for 270. Delivery is usually available once per week.

Homebase also sell a 1kg of lawn seed for 16. It covers an area of 100 square metres.

Turf = 4.50/sqm
Seed = 0.16/sqm

Therefore turf is approx 30 times more expensive than seed.

Depending on your current lawn conditions you may find it easiest to do a preparation of evergreen to get the weeds under control in the existing lawn, then add sandy compost to level and sow seed where required.

However, if you are starting afresh (using seed or turf) you need to lift the existing turfs (and get rid of them), prep the soil with a rotavator to get your new conditions optimal, then do your lawn.

b.t.w. when you consider the price of turf you might as well spend your money on removing old, then getting some fresh topsoil delivered and re-levelling. If you compare 4.50/sqm against the cost of buying topsoil its still pretty pricey. If you are doing a smallish area you could probably lift the old turfs, shake off excess soil, get some new topsoil delivered, then chuck some seed down. Spring is an ideal time to sow lawn seed.

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#7 Axean



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Posted 23 April 2009 - 12:49 PM

I'm guessing you've worked out the major difference is cost and lawn created with turf can be used earlier.

I've created lawns using both methods and I think its important to point out that for both cases you have to prepare the soil beforehand. Its very hard work!
I decided its easier to search for website that give some good instructions than to type them out in detail. The following links have some good advice.
  • Its is a good idea to kill off weeds with a root killing weed killer. The best chemical is Glyphosate and its much cheaper to buy it concentrated and add water. Garden Centres encourage you to buy the premixed expensive branded versions. The concentrated version is usually well hidden.
  • Its really important to get the soil level! Dig it over to a depth of a few inches, then rake in several directions to get absolutely flat and break up the soil into a fine seed bed. Walk over to compact, then rake again. Keep repeating until your confident its absolutely flat and the soil is evenly compact.
  • Either seed or turf
  • If seeding, use bamboo sticks to hang some netting over the area to keep off birds for a few weeks. If laying turf get a plank to lay across the turf when you need to stand on it.
  • You'll have to get yourself a watering system, a hose + sprinkler.

I would use seed, but I've done it before and I'm confident about getting the procedure correct. There's an increased chance of making a mistake with seed, but you can afford to repeat the process several times. If you make a mistake with turf, its a very expensive mistake!

You can buy several types of seed mixes. Its a good idea to go for a "quality" lawn mix, unless you have kids who will be playing football, in which case it needs a good percentage of ryegrass. The first website I linked to has several types of seed mixtures.

#8 malcolmjanes



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Posted 25 April 2009 - 07:14 PM

Much wisdom from James and Axion.

I've lived in 'The Sticks' for over 40 years now and have had to move a number of times, police houses and my own, all with gardens and some form of lawn.
Police houses = utility lawn, coarse ryegrass mixtures but hardwearing. Turf nice and quick - you didn't know when you were likely to move again. Soaks up the blood well in the village statiions. ;)
Own houses = seeded lawn, Fine mixture (often known as No. 1 mixture or bowling green mixture) - nice, slow growing doesn't need cutting so often.
Next is No. 2 mixture or tennis mixture - a little stronger for wear, needs cutting a little more often at most once a week at the height of the growing time but more usually once every two weeks is enough throughout late spring through to late autumn. Type used at Wimbledon but they probably have special now.
No. 3 and higher numbers will contain increasingly more ryegrass and therefore increasingly better for wear - good for kids playing endless football etc. but will need much more cutting. It will also tend to look coarse, not at all like the pictures on the packet. Ok for parks, verges down to cow pastures.

My experience is that No. 2 (no ryegrass) is reasonably rubust with some 'kids wear' and reasonably tolerant to water shortage. It can look almost like on the packet.
No. 1 is perhaps a bit delicate for wear and can easily suffer for lack of water.

It is also worth pointing out that you can readily get seed developed that tolerate shady areas, under trees etc. and can be mixed in with a No. 2, for example.

The turf that I have seen over the years, and including B + Q, has only ever been at the coarse end of the scale. Unless you really, really need an instant lawn and with a really, really hard wearing property - go for seed!!!! The wait for the lawn will be worthwhile.

I would take issue with James over time to seed. September is considered the better time. The seed can germinate and start their growth in sliightly cooler and damper conditions of the autumn. It is most likely that in late autumn, with a new or well adjusted, sharp mower, to nip the tops off the shoots. This will encourage root growth, which it naturally wants to do in the autumn/winter period to thicken up the grass. The mower would preferably be one with a roller rather than a side wheel which will dig in, or a hover type. Sharp shears or scissors will do the job over the first winter if you don't have a mower yet. The intention is just to nip off the growth to encourage the roots to spread over the first autumn/winter.

The lawn would be useable next spring onwards with care, when the ground has dried off a bit. You can weed, re-seed any bare, sparse, or low areas with a little seed and if necessary sifted soil, in the early spring.

The preparation and work involved is much the same for seed and turf. Digging, levelling, de-stoning - particularly the top for seed, firming down (conventionally with small 'mincing' steps,) filling any small dips and tilthing (lightly roughing up) the surface to 'take' the seed. Seed has the advantage of being much cheaper, you can choose a better grass and you will get a much better lawn. Promise!
You could probably use it for garden parties if H.M. wants a break.

#9 James



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Posted 25 April 2009 - 09:56 PM

I would take issue with James over time to seed. September is considered the better time.

I agree with you but my comment was really intended to suggest 'now' is better than delaying until later in the summer.

If anyone has a rough looking lawn and is concerned about the expense and effort required to start afresh then you may like to consider using Evergreen lawn feed and weed killer... you'd be surprised how effective it can be.

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#10 peggysue



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Posted 27 April 2009 - 10:07 AM

Hi all
just wanted to say thanks for this really helpful advice. i'm going to go through it all in more detail when i have some more time including the web pages, will let you know what i decide and how it goes!