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gardening: Green, green grass of home.

Byline: Hannah Stephenson

THANKS to the prolonged rain we've had all summer, if you're planning to lay a new lawn, now is an ideal time to do it, when the ground is warmand moist.

Preparations should have already begun, so you should have dug over the site, made sure drainage is adequate, cleared the soil of stones, flattened out any bumps and blemishes, and hoed regularly to stop weeds emerging.

You should also have fed the plot with a general lawn fertiliser and lightly raked it into the surface a week before turfing.

The key with turfs is to make sure you buy good quality ones. Look at a sample first and buy from a specialist turf grower, not from a supplier who cuts a field and digs it up.

Most specialist suppliers have websites which give useful information on choosing the right turf, ordering the right amount and laying it correctly.

Always buy a little more than you need to allow for trimming.

Turfs come in different sizes, but are usually ordered by the square metre. Standard strips measuring around 100cm x 30cm (3ft x 1ft) will be rolled up when delivered to you. If you choose larger turfs, you will need to hire equipment to help you lay them, which should be available from your supplier.

You need to lay the turf as soon as possible after delivery because it will deteriorate quite quickly. If you leave it more than three days, you should spread out the turfs in a shady spot to allow air and light to reach the grass and water them if necessary.

Without walking on the prepared ground, start laying the turf with a single row along the farthest edge.

If you have a straight border, lay a row along that first, butting the short sides up together - but don't stretch or bend them.

Flatten each row with a plank of wood or pat gently with a rake head to ensure the turf makes contact with the soil beneath. When you lay your second row, stagger the joints, as you would in brickwork.

If you have a curved edge, don't try and bend the turfs round to fit, but instead lay them straight and then trim off the excess later with a half-moon edging iron or kitchen knife, so that the lawn edge follows the shape of your bed.

As you are laying the turfs, never stand on the newly-laid turf or the unturfed plot - stand on a plank. If you are moving the turfs across a turfed area in a wheelbarrow, make sure you don't overload the wheelbarrow.

Use a plank to stop getting ridges in your newly-laid lawn.

Water the new lawn thoroughly for the first few weeks to help establish it, if you don't have enough rain to do the job for you.

Within a short period of time, you will have a wonderful new lawn, even though it may have come at a price. It's around 10-times more expensive than grass seed. But, if you want instant results, it's a perfect quick fix.

CAPTION(S):

Grass act: a groundsman tends to the lawns at Buckingham Palace
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 6, 2008
Words:526
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