How to lay an instant lawn

General tips to consider before laying a roll-out lawn.

  • If you want to put in a new lawn because your existing one is weedy or mossy, bear in mind that a new one could also go this way after a while. The lawn is simply responding to its conditions. Moss is a response to shade and waterlogging, so you will need to address these if you want to bring about permanent change.
  • Weeds could be in your current lawn because there is a healthy weed-bank nearby (eg a poorly kept garden) which is spreading its seed into your garden. It could also be because it has been poorly mantained, and weeds have gained a foothold. Dandelions, docks and burdock are fairly undesirable, but in our opinion, having daisies, clover and small plantain in the lawn is a good thing.
  • Moss can look quite attractive, and rather than waging a war with it, it might make your life easier if you try to find a way to like it. Dumping chemicals onto it can leave it looking brown and bare, and is not good for surrounding wildlife. Replacing the lawn would need to go hand in hand with creating more light and air on the lawn, as well as improving
  • Calculate the area of your lawn. Add an extra 5-10% for wastage and errors. Order your grass a few days before you want it delivered, and be sure to order extra topsoil or rootzone (see below) at the same time to improve its performance and save on delivery costs.

Instructions for laying a roll-out lawn

  • If your lawn has dandelions, dock or other tap-rooted weeds, they may need to be sprayed up to a fortnight before laying your lawn. If you do not want to use a weedkiller, cover the lawn with black plastic for at least four weeks.
  • When the weeds have been killed, rotovate the area. You can only do this when the soil is moist or dry. It should not be done when it is water-logged or sodden. Never cultivate very wet soil - this will damage it permanently. 
  • Rake off and remove any debris such as weeds, roots or large stones. If there are a lot of stones, these can be buried in a deep hole. Don't bury organic matter such as roots, as these will lead to dips in the lawn.
  • Level the area with a wide rake.
  • Apply a layer of rootzone (sand and soil blend) to a depth of 4 - 6cms, and ensure that you get it very level and evenly compacted with foot traffic. If soil is wet or the weather is damp, a very thin layer of peat moss will help to absorb moisture.
  • Start to roll out grass. Start in the furthest corner, and use a wide board on top of the sods that you lay so that you will never put your feet or knees on the grass. Butt each sod up to the next, but do not overlap them. Ensure that the soil remains level.
  • When you move on to the next row, ensure that joints are staggered (don't have two gaps aligned with each other).
  • Trim off the end of each line with a sharp knife.
  • Keep rows straight and parallel. Don't leave any large gaps between sods. Use the flat of your hand to keep them snugly together.
  • When lawn is down, trim all edges.
  • Have a drop of at least a couple of inches if the lawn abuts a bed. This will make it much easier to maintain and looks better too.
  • If the lawn abuts a flat surface such as paving, make sure its upper surface is exactly at the same level. This means mowing will be easy and there will be no shaggy areas.
  • If you put the lawn down between autumn and spring, there is little need to water it. However, always be on the lookout for dry spells or dessication - sods shrink when they dry out.
  • If you put the lawn down in summer, take great care to keep it watered from Day 1. Sods can dry out very quickly and take at least a week to put down roots.
  • Do not walk on the grass for a couple of weeks. 
  • If the grass does dry out, don't despair. It almost always bounces back and is very forgiving.
  • If there are any left over sods, lay them down somewhere in the garden and keep them waterered. They may be useful if you have any accidents.
  • After a couple of weeks give it a cut, but only a light one. You can use it, but take it easy at first.
  • From now on, treat it as any lawn, but don't cut too low in the early day.
  • A layer of rootzone (sand and soil mix) helps to get an even, well-drained surface which is perfect for grass roots, and it is also easy to spread over soil which is heavy or wet.
  • If the soil is very heavy or wet, or you are installing the lawn in damp weather, a couple of bales of peat moss help to absorb moisture and get an even surface. We don't like to use peat, but it has helped us get out of a fix when the weather has turned bad!