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Help! First timer needs help making a Meadow into a Lawn :)

Hi there everyone,

This is my first post and first project so I feel a bit in at the deep end! My wife and I have bought our first home but due to work haven't been able to get much done outside since we moved in a year ago.

We have a lovely sized garden which I think has the potential to be lovely but it is completely overgrown with meadow grass, thatch and weeds. I've been quoted silly money to have a lawn put in so am looking at doing it myself.

What I'd like to do is kill back the grass and weeds and do whatever I need to so that for next summer I can get a new lawn laid, most probably using turf. My first question is how do I best go about this and does anyone have any good resources they can point me towards reading?

I think I'm going to have to weed kill the whole garden then put black plastic over it for the winter to kill it off and mulch it all up next spring. Can anyone tell me if this is correct and if those timings are realistic - our daughter will be 18 months next summer and we'd love to spend time with her on a new garden lawn!

I've attached some pictures below to help with what I'm dealing with, so any help or ideas are much appreciated!

Kind regards.




  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,649

    It seems a waste of time and money to kill all the grass so you can plant grass unless you want a bowling green or tennis court standard. 

    I'd get a nice thick pair of gloves and go and pull out all the ragwort (stuff with yellow flowers) then get a strimmer and cut back all the grass to a length your mower can cope with. Ideally then rake up all the grass cuttings. Then mow the grass every 10 days or so until the weather gets cold and it stops regrowing.

    Most weeds will die if you keep mowing them and the grass will look horrible and brown for a start but it regrows very quickly and it'll green up, especially if we get a bit of rain, or you could water it (but don't cut it when it's wet).

    Come the spring have a good hard look at it and see if there are patches of clover or moss that you might need to apply a weedkiller to but wholesale destruction seems a bit overkill (literally).

    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • Dear Raisingirl,

    Thanks very much for the reply, some great advice there. When we had it surveyed recently the chap did say there was lots of moss and that killing it back was what was needed, but maybe thats because he had his services in mind and so was likely to say that I guess. 

    We would like a bowling green, maybe not as high standard but something to enjoy a level (which it isn't currently) and fresh lawn would be the end goal, do you think thats a bit unlikely given the state?

    Thanks again.


  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,158

    that's what I'd do except for the last paragraph,

    It works, it's how most of my grass areas were created

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 1,393

    Excellent advice from Raisongirl and I agree with Nut about not spraying off the clover. It is good in a lawn and fixes nitrogen. Keep it and don't spray. If you can pull up the ragwort do so but it can be tough. Do it soon before it seeds. Then as others have said, mow and mow with the blades set high to begin with. You will probably have the makings of a decent lawn by the end of September. If it turns out to be a bit bumpy, you can fill the hollows with sand and grass seed next spring. 

    It looks like potentially a really nice garden......and there is nothing wrong with meadow grass.

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • Thanks for the replies everyone!

    Verdun & Redwing,

    Very much appreciate the advice - I'm not after a bowling green as such, probably a bit of bold call that one. What I'd like is just a nice lawn. It's very bouncy under foot at the minute so not sure if thats a moss issue or it just being uneven.

    I have a feeling the mower isnt man enough at the minute, so I'll get on the shears and see how I get on taking it back.


  • Dave HumbyDave Humby Posts: 1,142

    If it's bouncy underfoot that's often thatch so after you've managed to reduce the height you should consider scarifying or raking (hand or machine). Again September is a good time to be doing this project. Good luck. Looks a lovely area and some nice shrubs already in place. 

  • Hi Thornfingers I've been in my house since Xmas and have had a front and back garden to refurbish as well as the house. Both lawns need replacing as they are weed ridden and very uneven.  While i have done lots of planting in the back im leaving the lawn till next year. I have however started on the front and I've gone down the route you were thinking of. I used weed killer to kill the grass which was mostly couch then skimmed it all off before turning it all over. Also took down 4 overgrown conifers. I have now leveled it and put grass seed down where I want the lawn. It was hard work though but a lot smaller than your garden. So if you can salvage your lawn with the advice given here go down that route. Hopefully next year I can really get on with the e xciting bit of planting the borders round the lawn. SF

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