Laying your own beautiful lush lawn is a rewarding task and will give you a summer of pleasure
Remember the Tom Jones song, Green Green Grass Of Home? Sir Tom’s voice really does bring to life the sheer delight of seeing sumptuous valleys of the velvety expanse of green, green grass.
And most of us dream of looking out onto a beautiful lawn that would not be out of place in the gardens of a National Trust property. But it needn't be mere dream. It’s actually easier than you think, if you follow my guide to help you sow, maintain, or turf your way to your very own little bit of green heaven.
Whichever method you choose, remember this should be an inspiring and relaxing job to undertake. Enjoy your labour, your time in the fresh air and be mindful of the glorious effect you're creating, one which will make your plants and flowers dance to that tune Tom Jones made so popular. And don't let the April showers put you off. Whatever the weather, pull on your wellies, wrap up warm and enjoy the elements.
Which: Firstly measure the area you wish to cover, and order your seed or turf. Think about the traffic your lawn will get. If you have children and pets then a seed lawn in my opinion is not practical for you, unless you plan to send them off to boot camp for six month with the dog!
There's a hard-wearing domestic turf containing rye grass which will cope admirably with a high volume of traffic. Your supplier will advise you if you explain the situation to him. He will also work out how many turfs you need if you give him the measurements of the area to be covered. If, of course, for you purists out there, you are looking for the perfect show lawn, then you too can still have turf if you prefer it to seed, or if time is of the essence. Just order the fine turf which has been grown from seed and contains grasses called bents and fescues and is generally weed-free. One drawback though is that this fine turf can be very expensive. If you prefer grass seed, the preparation is the same as for turf. This type of lawn is usually very high maintenance and will need constant attention with weeding and you will have to keep the cats and our feathered friends away. It will also need, as with any turf you choose, to be constantly watered with copious amounts of water.
Preparation: Clear the site of any debris, deep-rooted weeds, rubble and large stones. Prick over and rake the soil to a fine tilth. Remove or level off any lumps and bumps using good topsoil. Then for the fun bit. Do your ministry of silly walks up and down the area until trampled well down. Tamper down again with the back of the rake. When you are happy with your preparation, spread general fertilizer over the ground and water well. My granddad told me to leave it as it is for five to seven days before laying your turf or sowing your seed, and his lawn was like a bowling green.
When: March/April is for spring laying/sowing but keep an eye out for late frosts. You can also lay/sow around October time when the soil is still warm enough to promote root growth, and the days of mists and mellow fruitfulness are doing a wonderful job of keeping your lawns moist. Delay it if the weather is particularly bad until it improves. Be particularly attentive to your lawns when sowing in the spring, because the soil will be heating up and getting drier during the summer months. The mantra for spring laying/sowing is water, water and more watering. Remember, a strong healthy lawn is one that will survive the winter and will reward you next year with a glorious carpet of green.
How: Lay the first row of turf using a straight edge. An old piece of wood will do. Unroll the turfs one at a time and very gently to avoid damage. Lay each turf over the edge of the straight line in order to trim them to a perfect fit. Butt each of the turfs right up closely to the next, thus avoiding gaps between. Continue like this to the end of the row and so on. The next line should be staggered as if laying bricks. Continue on in this fashion until the area is covered. You might like to work backwards by standing on a flat board to avoid leaving footprints on your new lawn. Trim all the edges making sure that each turf comes into contact with the soil to prevent dry patches from occurring. Avoid walking on the lawn for the next few weeks to allow the turfs to root into the soil, but don't forget to water with your hose pipe. For first cut keep the lawnmower blades high. Feed spring and autumn with lawn fertilizer.
Tips: Once you have taken delivery of your turfs, store them in the shade. Water them well and lay within 24 hours. Store lawn seed in a cool, dry, rodent-free shed until you are ready to sow. These are not quite so time sensitive. Make sure you have a good lawnmower ready for use once the grass is ready for its first cut. Have your existing lawn mower serviced ready for action or you could of course treat yourself to a new super mower, maybe one that is powered by lithium batteries. These fantastic modern machines are just as powerful as petrol engines but are cleaner and quieter, thus contributing to the care of our precious planet. Something we should all give consideration to before it's too late. Now pour yourself a long cool drink, sit back and enjoy your very own green, green grass of home.
June Cynthia is a Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medallist and award-winning florist and gardening expert