Hello all. We have recently had a house built and so the "garden" is
just soil and boulders at the moment. We're planning on getting a lawn
down at the end of the summer. We're complete garden newbies as we've
always lived in flats (apart from renting a house previously where we
did mow the lawn). Now we have the chance to start a lawn from scratch
and so would like some advice from people who know, like yourselves.
Location - 30 miles west of Aberdeen
Soil - quite a clay soil with lots of fist sized stones
Area - about 600 sq. metres (although we'll only be laying a lawn on
about 200 sq. m of it to start with)
I have a plan but please advise on how good/bad you may think it is:
Spray all weeds/ground with glyphosate
Spray all weeds/ground with glyphosate again two weeks later
Once all weeds are dead, rotorvate ground (to make levelling easier)
Level and de-stone soil (and possibly add top-soil if needed)
Step 5 (if time permits):
Spray any new emerging weeds with glyphosate
Remove/dig in dead weeds
Are there any flaws or perhaps better ways to establish a new lawn?
Also, I was looking at getting a wide-toothed rake such as the Chelwood
18E or 18K for raking up the stones as these rakes have a 4cm gap
between the teeth. Would you recommend any other or would one of these
do the job well?
Apologies for all the questions, but I really am new to this (plenty
more questions to come on growing veggies etc. but first things first!)
Thanks in advance for any advice you could possibly give.
Thanks Bob. I agree, spraying the ground generally would be a waste of
spray. However, when I say I'll be spraying the ground, I mean the odd
patch in between the lawn of weeds; the whole area is green with weeds.
Spraying the ground in between ensures that I haven't missed any small
emerging ones that are hard to spot.
Thanks for the tip on renting a rake; should save me a bit of money. And
the roller will save alot of time, too.
As Bob said, no need to spray bare ground. If you miss
some tiny weeds, you can go back and get them in the
Just spray what's still alive. Also, when you buy the glyphosate
look for the concentrated products, like 48%. It's a lot more
cost effective. I'd mix it to about 5%.
I'd probably mow it first. And if there is a lot of weed debris,
maybe rake out most of it before tilling.
Also, how out of level is it? If there are just some areas that
need to be graded, do you really need to churn up the whole
I'd forget about that. After all of the above, there shouldn't
be anything worth worrying about.
That probably means roll lightly.
The other alternative is to seed. It's funny. I live here in NJ,
and I seeded my lawn years ago. Right now it's nice and green,
actively growing. A friend bought a $1mil house in a sub-division
of recently built houses. The builder used sod. His lawn is barely
growing, doesn't look anywhere as good as mine. It didn't look as
good over winter either. Mine stayed a lot greener for more of the
winter. We both apply similar amounts of fertilizer etc. So, clearly
it's the variety of grass that's the difference. You would think
spring green-up, winter color, etc would be important to a sod
but I guess not.... If you buy the seed yourself, you can choose the
exact grass you want. There are online references that show test
results for different grasses, rating color, texture, disease
spring green-up, etc.
My point is that for all the work and expense you're going to go
I'd spend some time researching the sod or seed you're going
to use. Getting a real nice grass may not cost anymore than a
crappy one and even if it does, it's not much more.
No experience with those UK rakes.
With veggies, first thing is to find out what animals there are
that will eat them. Around here, NJ, the deer are so bad that without
a fence it's hopeless.
it can be overwhelming when considering all
the possible options... but...
i would really rethink this. putting a lot
of money into establishing a grass lawn and
putting down sod only later to go over it and
put in gardens is a large waste of money and
effort (along with time wasted).
instead work on observing your property and
how it drains and how the light goes. figure
out if you'll need to bring in more topsoil
for certain areas and where you might want
ponds or other features. if some areas are
not drained well you might want to use those
as natural water catches or even ponds, if
there are springs, seeps, etc. or you may
want to install drainage or shape the ground
to direct water flows. this kind of planning
is much better done before you do a lot of
other work on the lawn as then you can bring
in trucks of topsoil or other materials without
damaging other things (saves much work later).
so overall, sitting down with someone who
does garden designs would really help a lot and
likely keep you from wasting a lot of money on
sod, weed killers and time spent killing weeds
that you may later just go over with a garden
plot, pathway, pond, patio, etc. anyways.
also, nice to include in garden plans, are
things like irrigation plumbing for hose hook
ups and even electrical runs if you are going
to be doing a gazebo or other garden feature
that might need power (water pumps, lights,
where i am at none of this sort of thing was
done before putting in gardens, it makes any
projects three to five times the work because
i have to go around and bring in materials a
wheelbarrow at a time or the soil is so ill
suited i can't even grow certain crops, or
the drainage is poor so i have to contend with
oh and having a way left that a truck can
get in is very nice to have later. you
never know if someone may come up with a free
load of bricks or ... it's nice to not have
to haul it in a wheelbarrow or bucket at time.
do yourself big favors and take the time now
to figure it out before wasting the time and
money on sod and weed killers.
you can mow the weeds on a regular basis and
that will be good enough until you know more
about what else you'll be doing. by then you
may have a perfectly good looking green area
that requires little additonal care other than
regular mowing because it's been selected from
the weeds and grasses that are already in your
area that are suited for the climate and soil.
once you know where you really do want garden
plots or actual grassy areas then you can
concentrate on those (hopefully much smaller
areas) for getting rid of the rocks, leveling,
weed killing and sodding/seeding in again.
if you take the time and hit the library there
are many books available along with many things
online to help with various topics. still i
think it helps to talk to someone who does garden
design for a living as then you can likely avoid
a lot of future problems and you may discover
during the conversations that you and your
partner/family has different ideas about what
to do, so it's good to figure that out beforehand
as i really dislike getting a project going or
done only to find someone later coming in and
digging it back up again or mowing it down or...
Maybe you should read it again:
"Area - about 600 sq. metres (although we'll only be laying a lawn on
about 200 sq. m of it to start with) "
You'd have to be incredibly stupid to lay a lawn on the
whole thing only to rip it up to plant a garden in part of it
Thanks again, Bob. The weeds that I've sprayed have gone yellow and limp
now. I'm assuming that they;re now dead and that they can now be
removed. Should I remove them all or just dig them in? Or perhaps just
remove the bigger ones?
Do we even know what the plan is at this point? He
first said he was planning on establishing a new lawn at
the end of summer. So, why is he even killing stuff now
and talking about possibly tilling weeds in? Fall is the
best time to establish a lawn and if he's not going to do
that until then, why is he killing stuff now? I'd just mow
until late Aug, then start the process with killing the
Well, that's why I'm asking advice; because I don't know the best way to
go about it. I thought that I'd kill my "lawn of weeds" now, turn it
over, let it settle, kill any more that might appear in the meantime.
this should take me up to the end of the summer when I'll lay turf. Lots
of prep to ensure a good lawn. I hope.
By "what the plan is" I meant it wasn't clear to me what
you are actually trying to achieve.
I thought that I'd kill my "lawn of weeds" now, turn it
That's a bad strategy. What's the point to killing weeds now
and turning over the soil so that new weeds will grow all
summer? I don't think anyone here ever told you to do that.
If the soil is OK, except for the weeds, you don't have to till
it at all if you're going to use seed. And regardless of whether
you're going to use seed or sod, there is no point in doing
anything until late Aug. I would just keep it mowed for the
summer. That has to be better that looking at a bare, tilled
up earth and dealing with all the weeds that are going to be
No, they didn't. The reason is to let the soil settle. At the moment we
have just stones, soil and weeds. So turning it over, levelling it and
letting more weeds grow would actually be an improvement. I know more
weeds will grow, my reason for killing these is because the whole area
is thick with weeds that have had years to establish before we built our
house. It just means removing less weeds later (ones that aren't as well
established and deeply rooted) before laying turf. It's just saving a
bit of time later so the majority of the hard work is done (levelling).
I understand that some might advise kiling all the weeds at once.
Bob F: Thanks for your continued comments; always constructive and
Trader 4: I don't like the tone in your replies. Maybe that could be
Thanks to all who have contributed. My time here is done.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.