New lawn project - where to start?

Hi there,

About 18 months ago I completed a self-build on what was previously grazing land for horses. As expected, i ran out of money completing the build and the landscaping had to take a back seat, but i am now ready to tackle it But i haven't a clue where to start!

It is a large area (45m x 30m) the majority of which will be seeded for grass (I have a 4yr old boy so obviously i need a football pitch!).

i thought i'd lay out the issues i'm faced with here, and hopefully someone will be able to suggest a plan of attack:

1.  Soil.  There is very little topsoil (none in places). Underneath the topsoil is very thick, very heavy clay. 

2. Levels.  There are mounds and ruts all over the area due to the equipment used during the build.

3. Weeds.  The whole area is covered in all sorts of weeds, grasses and dandelions etc.

4.  Edging.  The area currently flows straight into the surrounding grazing land.  I have not fenced or edged it in order to make using machinery to sort it out a bit easier.  

Thats about it for now. I can post pics later if necessary. this is my first time posting, so if it is in the wrong place or i have broken any rules, please let me know. 

Thanks in advance.


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,819

    Hi Aalindo image  Sincere congratulations on completing a self-build !!!  Deep admiration from here !!!

    Can you post us some pictures of your plot to give us some idea of what you've got to play with - to post a picture on here you need to click on the green tree icon on the toolbar above where you type your post, and follow the instructions. 


    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • Busy Bee2Busy Bee2 Posts: 1,005

    My first thoughts are these....  As far as the topsoil goes, the bad news is that you will need some!  The good news is that you don't need much.  We have a lawn which sits on a single brick's height/depth of soil, below which is 2 foot of fused iron ore, and it stays green provided you feed it from time to time, water in summer, and don't keep a trampoline on it (ahem!)  The drainage can't be too good on the ore, but unless there is a prolonged period of wet weather, we don't have too much of a problem with pools/mud etc, and it always recovers even if we do.  The weeds keep coming of course.  Drainage on clay might not be great, but hopefully not a problem - do what you can to prevent pooling.



    We also have a pitch, which is built on the top of our paddock, on free-draining soil, there is clay underneath and you would think that would be a much better site for play grass, but no.  Despite every effort to level it, it throws up lumps, disappears into pits, and makes ball games very hard to play, because the ball bounces up in all sort of directions, and ankles are easily twisted.  We don't know the full reasons for this, but suspect 1. sink holes into mole tunnels/rat tunnels - because we are connected straight to the paddock.  2.  Weed roots - the thistles, docks, couch grass and dandelions refuse to give up the fight for what they consider 'their patch', and weed and feed has only a fleeting effect on them.  3.  Stones rising to the top, or being pushed to the top - we are forever pulling out chunks of sandstone this size of fists.  It is very frustrating, and OH is trying to level some of the worst of it this summer. 

    Anything you can do to minimise these problems would help.  It is probably not a good idea to expect perfection! 



  • AalindoAalindo Posts: 4

    Many thanks for the comments/advice so far.  I will read and digest!

    See below for pics of the land as it stands today. So far all that is in place is a 10ft x 12ft shed for tools on a concrete base and a timber edged play area (a compromise that at least gave our lad somewhere to play before we could create a garden).

    The land doesn't look too rough, but the vegetation you can see is about 1ft high and is masking a lot of ruts etc.

    Ignore the pile of rubble and the mound of earth.  Both will be gone in the next couple of weeks!







  • Busy Bee2Busy Bee2 Posts: 1,005

    Gosh, that all looks mighty familiar image  I think my advice would depend on what level of perfection you require and what level of effort you are prepared to put in.  To level ours, my dear husband hired a mini digger and took off the top layer - it was much more weedy and overgrown and impossible than yours.  We then levelled the soil beneath, but did have some topsoil there, so there was something to work with.  As a Virgoan (he doesn't hold with astrology, but if the cap fits, and the description says 'driven perfectionist' it is better to just roll with it - he is a Virgoan), my husband made the whole area as flat as the top of a billiards table - we pushed barrow loads of soil from one area to another and raked away, slinging out all the lumps of stone.  We seeded it in September and by the following summer, had a largely grass area, with a number of deep rooted weeds making a reappearance, some new ones from the weed seeds that clog our air in mid summer, and bumps started to appear for no reason, as did pits, and mole hills, and chunks of stone previously unnoticed rose to the top to clatter dangerously in the lawnmower.  We are now digging up the high bits, filling the low bits with more soil, chucking the lumps of stone further down the paddock so that we can deal with them in a few years time when we address the mess down there.  We have stuck a windmill in one of the mole hills - fingers crossed, keep on weed and feeding it - even though six weeks ago the dandelions were black and dying - but not enough to stop the little bleepers flowering image, and I suspect we will NEVER have the croquet lawn that OH dreams of, but hey - it's better than the wilderness that was there before.  It is hard work.  It is as if the whole area just wants to revert to weeds - it rebels against all our efforts.  I think the mole tunnels beneath it may be our biggest enemies.  Nothing else could explain the sinking bits.  I sometimes wonder whether if we dug a narrow 2ft trench all the way around the pitch and backfilled with concrete, it might persuade the moles to go elsewhere, but I suspect they would just dig down to 3ft and go underneath. 

  • LunarJimLunarJim Posts: 49

    I can't comment on the grass but we have small children and they love our paved path that goes right round the garden.  They use scooters, bikes, trikes and the go-kart to go round and round.  There is also a bit of a slope (about a foot and a half drop) at the end which is good for launching off and might be appreciated when we get to skateboards and rollerblades.

    You could make a raised area that makes it more interesting and incorporates a path and slope.  I'd have some hidaway areas with big plants in flowerbeds and not just have a very large amount of grass.

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