Seed or turf

Hi all, looking for advice.

I'm in the process of getting rid of the inherited concrete garden at my house and replacing it with a lawn. Long story short a man was visiting last week who was a retired landscape gardener. He asked if I was going to turf or seed. I said due to budget I was going to seed. He told me I wouldn't be able to use it until september he advised that I turf. While I saw the benefits I can't afford it. I have 160sq meter to lawn. I was going to seed it in march, use it over the summer lightly then repair in early autumn, or reseed areas.

His response was to buy some, lay it, then next month buy some more and lay that... Repeat. Ive been thinking about that, is it a good idea? Surely each month I'll have to re prepare the bare areas from weeds etc? Is it a bad idea? Would turfing a small area and seeding the rest work?

You know when you have an idea in your head and then someone casts doubt? I'm at that stage now. 

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  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 3,237

    I think that continually adding more turf is tricky. The joins knitting together may not do that well. They dry up around the edges, it will mean you have to re-rake the areas all over again and have to brush in further topsoil and water each time. It's more time consuming and fiddly. 

    If your budget is tight, then re-seed the whole area. The soil preparation is the biggest part to it. Once you have that bit done in March, the broadcasting of seed and watering-in will start the seeds off. The first year, it will be sparse in places but it's expected you may need to re-seed other areas. The key is to keep mowing it at regular intervals. I think you will be able to use it by July if you are on top of watering if there are dry periods in early summer.

    Last edited: 30 January 2018 18:18:54

  • Thank you for your help. I thought it might not be ideal. How about a partially turfed and partially seeded area? 

    I am keen to get part of the lawn used as early as possible as I have a little toddling daughter. So maybe may/June time if possible.  Her little feet might cause some damage, but would it be easily repaired by next year?

    Thanks for your advice re watering and mowing 

  • You could do a combination as you have suggested. You will however most likely see a noticeable difference in appearance in the two areas unless you are able to match the seeds to the turf if that is a concern to you. 

    Having seeded two lawns at my last place and one here it can be quite challenging with birds eating the seed being the biggest issue. I ended up covering the lawn in cheap netting supported by 1ft canes  knocked in every 2 metres or so on a grid. However that wouldn't be easy for a lawn your size. You might also be lucky and not be infested by pigeons like we are here and / or you have a cat! 

    As for turfing I would get that done as soon as you can get hold of the turf. Preparation is the key. Golf courses lay a lot of turf during the winter but they probably have special sources. 

  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 875

    If seeding you won’t be able to tell the difference in a years time but you do need to keep off it in the early stages. I agree with the above statement that it will be walkable on by July if sown in March. Turf is expensive but the preparation is the same weather you turf or seed. Between Mr Redwing and me we have sown acres of grass, both in gardens and on field scale. 

  • Yes i can imagine matching the seed to a turf would be a problem. Thank you to you for taking the time to reply, your advice and experience shared is invaluable.

    If I did a combo of turf and seeded the majority and there was a mismatch, would soil dressing and overseeding the turf portion in autumn help/work? Or is my logical way off? 

  • Yes that would certainly help Matt. The soil conditions will influence the colour of the grass as well so assuming you have similar ground conditions and prepare the whole area in the same manner it will also help. As long as you're not after a uniform bowling green then I'm sure your approach will be fine. You could also explain to your turf supplier what you are planning to do and they should be able to give you an idea of the grass type / blend / mix they are supplying which would help get a match with the seed. 

  • Pauline 7Pauline 7 West Yorkshire Posts: 1,504

    Are you going to have a path across the lawn?  If so,  you could always turf one side of the path and seed the other.  That way it wouldn't be so noticeable. 

    Just an idea. 

  • Great idea with the path, but that will be a few years yet until we plan the rest of the garden.

    Dave that's good news. So I'm going to turf just maybe 50sq metres this march and seed the rest which will be good for later in the summer. In September I'll overseed the turfed area with the same seed as the rest of the lawn to try to match it. 

    Do I need to prepare the turfed ground a little lower than the rest?

    Also stones... My ground is full of them. What's the guidelines in terms of size that's ok, proximity to surface, amount per sq metre etc? I rake and rake but they seem to come back. I watched an Alan Titchmarsh video the other day where he raked and seeded but you could see small 10mm stones on the surface. Is this really OK? 

  • Yes you'll need to allow for the depth of the turf to ensure a smooth transition. Sounds like you've watched a few videos on ground preparation so you'll have an idea of what's needed. As you've been doing a lot of raking you'll need to get a decent firm base and then a light tilth top layer for the seed / turf bed. As for stones then I think that's very much a personal choice. I'm a bit obsessive with things like that so I'd probably remove pretty much everything over say 10mm but that's probably OTT. No reason to not lay the turf and do the seeding at the same time depending on where you are and weather conditions. You should see the small red shoots start poking through about 10 days after sowing. 

  • Turf isn't a huge expense really, you should be able to find a local supplier at around the £2/m2 mark. If you can collect it yourself then all the better.

    Personally I would find a way to finance it and turf the lot. You'll be sick of looking at half a brown garden by the time you have conditions for seed.

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