Re-laying a small lawn - PREPARATION Question?

Discussion in 'Garden Projects and DIY' started by jim999, Apr 16, 2019.

  1. jim999

    jim999 Apprentice Gardener

    Apr 10, 2009

    I am extremely inexperienced at gardening but at the end of last year I decided I'd finally had enough of what passed for a small lawn in the back garden and I was going to re-lay it.

    I removed all the old turf with an adze, (surprisingly easy), and turned the soil over a few times, it's very heavy clay type soil but went OK. Now that spring has sprung remnants of grass and a more than a few weeds are starting to reappear.......I need to turn the soil over a good few more times to break it down so my questions are....

    1) Do I need to try and remove anything that's reappeared or can I just 'mulch' it back in again when I turn the soil over again? (I've bought a small rotovator so hopefully not too much effort to do as many times as needed).

    2) While I am in the process of doing the above is there anything I should or would be advised to add to the soil before laying the new turves? Nutrients? Sand?

    I appreciate this will be really basic stuff to most of you but would really appreciate any help or a link to somewhere will do.

    Many Thanks

  2. Sheal

    Sheal Total Gardener

    Feb 2, 2011
    Beauly, Inverness-shire
    Jim it may be basic to a number of us here but we all had to start somewhere, so if you don't ask questions you won't build your own knowledge. This is what Gardeners Corner is all about - helping others. It doesn't matter how much experience we have, gardening is a subject we never stop learning about. :)

    You can take the chance and turn them back in but some weeds like dandelions may set there roots down again. Any grass re-growth should eventually die off when turned back in. There may also be seeds in the ground that have laid dormant which could also be shooting now.

    Clay tends to hold nutrients but it would be a good idea to dig in sand or small gravel and compost to help keep the clay open allowing better drainage after rain.

    We have a Lawns forum that may be of help to you....

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    • Graham B

      Graham B Gardener

      May 19, 2018
      I used to have heavy clay soil at a previous house. You can't add sand to the clay in enough quantity to make a difference. However you can put a thin layer of sand and peat (or peat substitute) over the whole area and use a rake to scrape it around a bit into the top of the soil. That'll help the grass seed to establish better.

      Do be warned that after digging, the soil isn't going to be perfectly flat, no matter what you do. Plan on top dressing the lawn at intervals in the second year and beyond, to level out the lumps and bumps.
    • Liz the pot

      Liz the pot Super Gardener

      Jul 1, 2015
      You really need a good covering of top soil, 10cm is min but 15cm is pretty standard.
      This may mean you have to remove soil but it’s the way to insure you have depth for good root formation.
      If you had issues with standing water then you may have to consider drainage but you will need to add topsoil so it’s best to give this the correct depth.
      You will have to firm down the soil and spend time raking, firming, raking until it it’s all at a nice even level then you can seed. If turfing you need to just work out the height when turf is added but most of the work will be preparing the top soil.
      If your grass was easy to lift it sounds like it had very little topsoil and the roots were shallow. It’s a good indication you need more top soil.

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