Bernie3K, that does not look too bad at all, definitely worked on worse so what to do. Rake the biggest lumps off I would not bother getting on my knees to do it, rake as flat as you can manage, dragging a flat edge batten over it tells you where the bumps and dips are.
Right our council dump collects waste plant matter to compost then allows so many free bags, worth a try. If not we can get from local GC's three bags of compost for ten pounds or asking on line can often get some one wanting to get rid of soil. Spread the compost mixed with some washed sand on the garden and level using the batten again the idea being to raise the level where you need a lawn. At this stage you could draw up a plan for some hard standing and some grass up to you though a seating area usually needs some hard standing think about it. You can sow lawn from now until October I once put down a small lawn with grass rolls ten days before Christmas and it thrives well now.
The idea would be do not look on it in dismay, look on it as a clean canvass for you to make your own Eden, if you dragged the best soil to the place you most want grass then used pots of all sizes to make a border plus a seating area it will become manageable. We have all struggled at times though us tough old gardeners shrug and get on with it, do not lose heart, I see a very good working area in progress it just needs you to stand back and make a workable plan. Good luck.
Thank you everybody. I feel a bit better about it all now.. off to the "garden"
Ok.... I may have had a little breakthrough... and would love to hear your opinion as to whether I should continue working in this way
First of all, this is my rake. probably a little small but It's all I have until later when I borrow one off my parents.
(House brick for scale)
I have started rapidly stabbing the soil, this is breaking up any medium clumps and impaling the bigger clumps (mainly the ones with grass roots in them) I am removing the bigger clumps as I go. So now I am left with marble size clumps as below
After raking and firming a very small patch and going over it a few times I am left with this.
Is this the kind of finish I am looking for to sow?
Also when it comes to sowing, do I just distribute evenly by hand and then leave it? or give it a light raking once sowed?
Also I know what my main problem is. I am looking at the whole thing instead of focusing on one area and moving on
Unfortunately I am on my own this weekend. but my partner in crime will be back on Monday to lend a hand.. or a foot
You are doing a cracking job Bernie3k. It looks brilliant.
It's like eating an elephant.....one bite a time!!!!
You've a bit to go yet before you're sowing but have a look at this link. It's all relevant until you get to the turf laying part. That's when you can start thinking about sowing.
Call me a feeble girlie (I've been called worse) but I prefer a small rake. It's lighter and it's more controllable IMHO
Thanks everybody.. this is my new favourite place on the internet. I will be posting updates in here if anyone is interested in how it is going
Thank you all again... p.s if anyone has any more advice it will still definitely be taken into account
Bernie3K. Nothing wrong with that as a base, I would now get some washed sand and compost mix it and spread on top of that, it may take a few bags to mix half and half then tread in, the gardeners shuffle, when I did it my lovely neighbour asked what tune I was dancing too. Rake the top gently then sow the seed. Get a medium grass and the packet will tell you exactly how to sow it, water in make sure it does not dry out DAMP is lovely not water logged. I would cover with some sort of net or string cotton to keep the birds off.
My Daughter has just moved house with an old establish garden as usual with her the lot would have gone in a skip and a new start, NO sit and look at it make notes decide what to alter divide into sections work on one section at a time and finish that before starting the next, half done jobs are never completed. You are winning, cut the work to sections you can complete in say weekend then enjoy your effort a glass of wine feet up and listen to the birds (or other peoples radio's kids dogs) we do not often have a choice.
I will definitely be needing a glass of wine later
I have a couple of questions while I put the kettle on
How firm does the ground need to be while shuffling?
I am imagining I don't want it too compacted, but is there a rule of thumb to work to?
Also how level are we talking, I've been using a straight edge and am struggling to get it exactly perfect as when I walk over it again its creating divots where the ground might have been a bit softer. Do I need to be getting a laser? or am I being to picky. I don't want the problems of a bumpy lawn which is why we started this in the first place
As far as scaring birds from the seed. I bought this
Decent reviews on Amazon. I was going to hang it from string between my fences over the lawn
Calm yourself....Laser??? This is lawn preparation not a magic trick. It takes time.
Walk over it with your feet together and your heels pressing down. Bring your heel up to the third position if you're Darcy Bussell and to the middle of your other foot if you're not!!! That'll compact it a bit and let you know where the dips and hollows are. Rake soil from high to low and keep doing that till you're happy. There's a picture in the link I sent you. Then comes Frank's plank to get it as level as possible.
Walking like a penguin for days I tell you.