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Killing a lawn and starting again

Hi all,

I've been fighting a losing battle with a poor, uneven, weed-riddled lawn. This year I plan to kill off the existing patch (about 30ft x 20ft) and relay with new turf.

Last year I added a brick edging to the lawn which means I'm in a position to raise the level of the lawn by a couple of inches. So, after killing the old lawn I was going to add appropriate top-soil to raise the level before laying turf.

What's the best process to achieve this?

1. What do I do to kill the lawn - whilst making sure that there's no harm to new turf?

2. How do I remove the dead thatch?

3. What time of year would be best to crack on with this project?

Thanks in advance for any advice.




  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,142

    A good dig for a start. Improve the soil. A couple of inches of topsoil on top of  compacted, badly dained, impoverished...........etc, ground won't support a good lawn.

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 21,649

    Glyphosate will kill the old lawn, but it works best when the grass is growing and it takes about 3 weeks. It is inactivated in the soil, works on the green leaf it touches. Then rake off dead thatch. Otherwise you can dig up the existing grass in turves and turn them over, grass side down, which will be a bit like using green manure. Weedkiller is best if it is full of perennial weeds. Rotovate the top. Rake in fertiliser, like blood, fish and bone. Actually there is a good site explaining what to do here:

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Any glyphosate based weedkiller will kill all the existing growth without leaving any harmful residues. Your local garden centre or DIY barn is sure to have a selection.

    The weedkiller will need warmer weather and for the plants to be actively growing in order to work so depending on where you live about another 4-6 weeks maybe? It will take about 2 weeks to work and might need another application but a good dig and removal of all remaining roots should take care of anything left.

    By then it will be late April/early May which would be a good time to lay the new turf but make sure it is well watered through the summer.

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 21,649

    I think, in fact the site above is a bit over the top! It says add sand 20ins thick over the whole area, which I've never heard of before. But it also says add 4 ins topsoil which is what I imagine you were going to do.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • Thanks everyone for the speedy and informative replies. So, as far as I understand it, the process is as follows:

    1. Apply Glyphosate weedkiller - wait until all grass/weeds are dead (takes about 2 weeks) and reapply to any spots, if necessary.

    2. Rotivate the dead lawn.

    3. Top up with topsoil to raise the level to required height.

    4. Use roller to level and compact.

    5. Lay new turf.

    6. Keep watered until well established.

    This can start when growing season is underway, so anytime from late April onwards.

    Sounds like a plan; how hard can it be... 

  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,802

    Just about right -but do not use a roller to compact it-level with a rake and then shuffle with you feet all over the bed  -then rake again-a roller will over compact itimage

    General fertilizer -then lay turfimage

  • Thanks sotongeoff - no roller, fine by me, one less tool to hire!

  • SwissSueSwissSue Posts: 1,447

    Instead of a roller, nail a couple of old boots onto ca. 12in x 6in boards, and then "shuffle" all over the bed. image

  • thanks everyone I have the same problem to deal with for my daughter who is not a gardener!  Because of the time of year my intention is to cover the lawn with black plastic (I may turn it over first). This should kill off all the awful grass and weeds I hope. When spring comes around I will remove the plastic and start turning it over again to remove all the roots. After which I hope to be able to level the ground as per all the tips above and proceed. It's only a small lawn so I haven't made up my mind yet whether to seed or turf.

  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    Turfing is quicker and more expensive, and you don't always get good turf.  Seed is more work and gives a better finish.  Both need thorough preparation.

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