Laying a new lawn

Hello All,
It has been many years since I did any gardening - the last time was
over 20 years ago as a child - and I have no experience whatsoever with
lawns. I am starting again now with a new house. My current task is to
turn what is still the remains of a building site into a garden and the
very first thing I need to do is to lay a lawn along the side of the
house. I am hoping that I will get some useful tips here. I give a few
details below
a. The side of the house is 11m long and tapers from 4m down to just
over 2m.
b. Along the 11m length the ground slopes downwards towards the street -
a total drop of around 50cm.
c. The soil appears to be very well drained but is somewhat rocky - the
remains of the build.
What I want to do is to use rollout turf to lay a lawn here. I want
something that will be low maintenance and will do a good job of
stopping weeds and other unwanted guests growing through.
a. What sort of ground preparation do I need? Should I, for instance,
lay a good layer of garden soil before I lay the turf?
b. Should I consider breaking up the 11m length so the slope in each
section is somewhat less than the current grade of 4.5%?
c. What are the options with rollout turf - is there just the one kind
or are there many varieties.
d. What sort of regular maintenance will be required? Will I be able to
avoid use of chemical pesticides & weed killers?
OK - I am a real newbie and it shows. But I hope that I will get some
useful advice nevertheless
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The first step is to figure out where in the world you are. The turf solutions for Florida are going to be different than those in Canada.
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I live in Luxembourg. Winters are colder and longer than in the UK and summers are probably a bit hotter. Rain - well, less than in the UK. The lawn will be exposed to sunshine for 8+h during the summer months. Does that provide enough info?
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Any money and time spent now getting 6" of decent topsoil can save you years of time and money spent later on chemicals, water, re-seeding, etc. trying to make the lawn look good. And without decent topsoil, it may never look right. I'd find a neighbor with a good looking lawn and ask them what they used.
Getting good soil depends on what is there and what is available locally at reasonable prices. Options for improvement include trucking in screened topsoil or adding amendments to what is there and tilling it in. Those amendments could be compost, seasoned manure, etc. Or if the soil is heavy clay, you could also mix in sand. It all depends on what you have now.
I'd get the soil PH tested and adjust with limestone as needed. You can buy test kits at garden centers or online. Also, if there is any govt agricultural help centeres available locally, check them out.
That grade isn't steep at all. I'd only break it up if you wanted to do it for cosmetic reasons, eg a planting bed. Breaking it up just makes it harder to mow.
That depends on what is available in your area. Your talking cool season grass. Here in the NYC area that would commonly be bluegrass mixed with tall fescue. But even then, there are individual varieties. You can ask the local suppliers what they use and for the names of the actual grass. If you search for NTEP you will find a database that has most grasses listed and will tell you the finer points on each, ie disease resistance, spring green up time, color, texture, water needs, etc. Don;t know how the varities available here will map to over there though.
I can tell you this though. Selecting the right grass makes a difference. I grew my lawn from seed and used midnight blue and justice tall fescue. Two weeks ago, my lawn was a beautiful green already. A friend nearby has a house that used sod about 5 years ago. It still was brown and only now, over 2 weeks later is it starting to look green. Both lawns had Fall fertilizer applied. He put fertilizer on a week ago, mine has had nothing so far. I'm waiting until warmer weather when I will put down fertilizer with crabgrass preventer.
Depends on what you want it to look like and how green you want it to be. For fertilizer, which you should need about 2X a year, Spring and Fall, you can choose traditional or organic. A healthy, thick lawn should not have many weeds. A 2 gallon tank sprayer with herbicide can be used to deliver it right to the weeds, minimizing the amount use. That's the approach I use. Or you can go green and try to deal with the weeds without herbicide.
Water is another issue. If you want it to be green all summer and depending on the rainfall you get, you likely will need to water it some of the time. Consider installing sprinklers before the lawn. It's a real pain to try to water any decent size lawn by hand. Also, check the price of water and other options. Here, it's cheaper to put in a well for irrigation instead of using municipal water.
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Thank you very much for the detailed response. Just two more questions
a. You mention adjusting the pH. Where can I read up on what the right pH should be?
b. I doubt that I have the time (sadly) or the experience (as yet) to grow the lawn from seed so am planning to use rollout turf. Do the comments you have made apply to that as well?
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There is loads of info, just use google. A PH between about 6.5 to 7 is good.
Yes. Establishing a lawn from seed isn't any more work. Maybe less work. It just takes more time for it to grow and fill in. Fall is the best time for seeding though. If you do it now you have competition from weeds, need to use more water and it has less time to establish before hot summer stress months.
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Not directly related to your question, but my experience is from buying a pH Tester which came with a list of food plants, and what they need. Most are slightly acid, between 5.5 and 7.0, but my garden was mostly 7.5. So I added a few things, including sulfur.
I have not yet measured again or planted anything, but for many other changes I am trying to make it grow better than last year, because half of the food I eat in summer comes from there.
Marvin L. Zinn Using Virtual Access Windows 2000 build 2600
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Marvin L. Zinn

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