You are going to learn how to prepare the ground for laying new turf and grass seed.

Whether you’re laying turf or sowing grass seed, the ground preparation process is the same.

Cultivating the perfect lawn requires patience and preparation.

If you don’t get this stage right, even the best grass seed or the best turf won’t be enough.

The Best Time of Year for Preparing Ground for Turf or Grass Seed

To create the best looking lawn possible, you need time to prepare.

Autumn is the best time for sowing grass seed or laying turf because it allows for less weeds and quick establishment after planting. There is still plenty of sun around and the ground is still warm.

If this new lawn will be created in September or October, start preparing the ground in July.

You will need around 8 weeks, so work backwards from the intended start date to find out when you should start your ground preparation.

Learn more: The 4 Different Types Of Grass Seed.

How to Prepare the Ground

This video is a great overview of the ground preparation process. Follow this guide once you have decided on the right type of grass for your lawn.

Preparing the ground for grass seed or turf is simple but can be physically taxing.

As I said, give yourself a couple of months to prepare for the best results. The entire process can be completed faster but the end result won’t be as good.

Step 1: Remove Old Turf, Plants and Weeds

The first thing to do is clear the area where your new lawn is going to be laid or sown.

Remove every last piece of plant material from the ground and spray it with a Glyphosate-based weed killer. Buy one that breaks down on contact with the soil. Elixir’s Glyphosate Weed Killer Concentrate is a good choice.

Wait 2-3 weeks until everything has died off and then remove the old weeds, plants, and grasses with a spade or turf cutter

Step 2: Rotavate the Soil

To ensure that your lawn is beautiful and healthy, you must make sure the soil has been tilled correctly.

Turn over the earth at a depth of at least 15cm with either a gardening fork or spade. If you can reach 25cm then even better.

Remove any roots, stones, rubble from the ground first to avoid them becoming stuck in your garden equipment later on down the line.

Add soil if there isn’t enough to reach a depth of 15cm. Rolawn’s Turf & Seeding Topsoil is a good choice if you need a soil recommendation. It comes with a pre seeding fertiliser for better results.

Step 3: Consider Using a Soil Improver

This is a time consuming step and can also be expensive which is why many people skip it.

I can say that it makes a significant difference in how well your lawn establishes itself and grows.

If you want the best lawn possible, I recommend a soil improver.

Heavy Clay Soil

Add fine gravel to your soil if its heavy and like clay. This will improve drainage, and a compost will add nutrients to your soil.

Sandy Soil

Adding compost to your soil is an efficient way of improving its quality, no matter what type of soil you have. Even better if sandy as this will improve water retention and add nutrients back in.

I usually use Rolawn’s Soil Improving Compost for larger areas, but any organic material or manure will do just fine as well.

To mix it into your soil all you need to do is spread the compost over and turn it with something such as a fork, spade or rotavator in order to get most of that goodness deep down where it needs to be.

Step 4: Level the Area

Levelling the soil is often the hardest part.

But the flatter you can make the area, the better your lawn will look when finished.

Use a landscaper’s rake and rake until the ground is as flat as possible. Make sure to break up any clumps of soil.

Rakes will work but you will likely need more assistance.

I suggest making a Lute from pieces of wood to help you level the soil. You can learn how to do this in this video.

Step 5: Tread the Soil

Once you’ve levelled the soil, it’s time to tread it.

This ensures that all the ground is nice and firm. When there are areas that sink, add some more soil in those places. 

Treading is done by taking small steps with your weight over your heels which will help firm up the earth.

Do not skip this step as the ground will become when it rains.

Step 6: Leave the Area to Settle

This step isn’t necessary if you’re laying a family or general use lawn. But if you’re after perfection, follow this step.

Water the area thoroughly and then leave it to settle for 4 weeks. Water it again and then see if puddles of water form. If they do, fill these areas in with more soil and use a heavy roller or tread as outlined above.

If it has been raining heavily you might not have to water the area, but we sure to leave enough time before checking for puddles and undulations.

Step 7: Add a Pre-Seeding Fertiliser

It is important to get the right amount of chemical nutrients into the soil before laying turf or sowing new grass seed.

To do this, I use a pre-seeding fertiliser which I add to the soil.

I always use Rolawn’s GroRight Lawn Establishment Fertiliser.

Step 8: Rake the Soil

Once you have applied your fertiliser, rake it into the top layer of soil (25mm).

Keep raking the soil until you’re left with a fine finish. The finer the soil, the better contact it will make with the turf or grass seed when you lay or sow it.

Step 9: Water the Soil

Finally, water the soil again before your new turf or grass seed arrives.

Doing this helps to activate the fertiliser and the moisture will allow good contact between the soil and turf or seed.

This will also help the roots establish themselves into the soil.

Final Verdict

Never rush this process as the key to getting it right is preparation.

Take your time and do it properly. Your newly laid turf or seeded lawn will reward you with a beautiful lawn you can be proud of.

Preparing the ground for laying turf or sowing seed is easy but does require a bit of hard work. With this guide, you have all the information you need to get it right first time.