How to lay a lawn: simple steps to creating a vibrant green space

A healthy lawn becomes a beautiful, fresh green centrepiece in your garden. We tell you how to lay a new lawn and take care of it.

Close-up of green blades of grass in sunshine.

How to choose the right grass type for your lawn

The right grass variety depends on how you use your lawn and how it is situated. You can choose a hard-wearing variety or opt to lay a lusher lawn that requires more care. The classic lawn types are:

  • For sport and leisure
  • Ornamental 
  • For shade
  • For hot, dry locations

The respective lawn mixes contain a blend of grass varieties in different ratios, with the following basic types included in all lawn mixes:

  • Ryegrass (lolium perenne): grows and germinates quickly. It is a robust variety, so you do not need to worry about walking on it – but it does need a lot of water.
  • Smooth meadow-grass (poa pratensis): grows densely and forms a lot of runners. It takes 3 to 4 weeks to germinate and will die if not cared for adequately.
  • Red fescue (festuca rubra): hard-wearing grass with relatively broad blades; will thrive even with less intensive care. It is also suitable for keeping very short.


Sport and leisure lawn

A large lawn in a garden with trees, freeform flower beds and a tree house.

A sport and leisure lawn is ideal for running around, playing and lying on. It forms a robust and resilient turf, making it perfect for family gardens: any bare patches created by lively dogs or footballing children will recover quickly.
All types of smooth meadow-grass are especially suitable for this robust type of lawn. Bear in mind that the germination time is 3 to 4 weeks, and don’t forget that this variety requires plenty of water and fertiliser. Creeping bentgrass is also often used in robust lawn mixes. It can withstand damp conditions, is resilient enough to be walked on and effectively repairs bare patches. However, it is susceptible to lawn thatch and, as such, needs to be scarified regularly.

Ornamental lawn

A STIHL iMOW® RMI 632 robot mower with mulching function on a green ornamental lawn

Ornamental lawns have very fine, lush green grass and dense, uniform turf. You can mow it with a very low cutting height so that it resembles the ever-popular golf course style. Ornamental lawns are very delicate, though, and as such, not suitable for playing on. Nevertheless, this high-maintenance choice makes a wonderful feature if you lay it between garden paths – to be enjoyed only with the eyes! Ornamental lawn mixes consist almost entirely of red fescue and fine varieties of ryegrass. These are also susceptible to lawn thatch and need to be scarified regularly.

Lawn for shady areas

A plot with trees and a garden bench on a shaded lawn in front of a house.

Don’t be misled into thinking this lawn type is suitable for full shade. Any lawn you lay needs direct sunlight, but these mixes can stay healthy with as little as 3-4 hours of sun exposure every day, making them ideal for partially shaded locations – so you can use them if you need to lay a lawn under large trees, for example. It is suitable for walking on but needs to be generously watered and well cared for. You should keep these lawns on the longer side, cutting no shorter than 6 to 8 centimetres.

Lawn mixes for shady areas generally contain the four following varieties: supina bluegrass (poa supina, also known as ‘Supranova’) is light green to lush green, has runners above the soil and is generally considered robust enough to walk on. It requires a lot of water and fertiliser but not too much sunlight; tufted hairgrass (deschampsia cespitosa) has similar needs. Red fescue is an addition that has wider blades than other more common grasses. Sheep’s fescue (festuca ovina duriuscula) not only tolerates shade well; it also doesn’t require much in the way of nutrients, so it thrives even in dry and light soils.

Lawn for hot, dry locations

A sprinkler watering a lawn

Hot summers can be challenging for lawn care, so you might prefer to lay a lawn featuring grasses that are well-adapted to hot, dry locations, with deep roots which draw water from lower layers of soil. For the first year after you lay a lawn with heat-resistant grasses, be sure to water normally and regularly so the roots establish and grow sufficiently deep – the lawn will be ready and at its best in its second year. Lawns for dry locations are characterised by more broad-bladed varieties than other mixes; this means that if you need to overseed this type of lawn, you must use the same seed mix to ensure the turf remains a uniform colour.
The best time to lay a lawn from drought-resistant seed is between September and the start of October, as this means it has time to establish strongly before hot weather arrives. Lawn mixes for dry locations usually consist of up to 70% tall fescue (festuca arundinacea), a broad-bladed, deep-rooted variety that is particularly resilient to heat and dry conditions. The remainder is made up of smooth meadow-grass (20%) and perennial ryegrass (10%).

When should I lay a new lawn?

Laying a lawn can be done at any time of year, but between March and mid-May is ideal. It means the early growth phase will not be disturbed by chilly temperatures, and there is still likely to be enough moisture to get the grass off to a good start. If you lay a lawn in spring, you can expect it to withstand frost, moisture and weeds better than a lawn laid in the autumn. Alternatively, you can lay your new lawn between August and October. Sowing grass seed in summer is also theoretically possible, but water it well to compensate for high temperatures.

How to lay a lawn: step-by-step instructions

You don’t need a great deal of expertise to lay a lawn yourself, but you will need a bit of patience. It can take a while after sowing for grass seed to germinate or for turf to take root. While grass seed from cheaper seed mixes starts to germinate in a few days, high-quality mixes take at least 2 weeks.

STIHL pro tip: The longer germination time and extra expense of a high-quality lawn mix is a price worth paying. As well as being longer-lived and hardier, you can also mow it less frequently. After a couple of years, cheaper lawns start showing problems that cannot be corrected even with premium care. So we recommend you invest in a high-quality mix for your lawn – it will pay dividends over the years.

Tools and materials required

Before you buy spiked rollers or other such tools to lay your new lawn, check if they are available to rent from your local DIY store or STIHL dealer.

  • Large and small rake, preferably wooden
  • Spade
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow or basket (for collecting larger stones)
  • Spiked or grid roller
  • Spreader
  • Garden hose with spray nozzle
  • Grass seed (approx. 20 to 30 g per square metre) or turf (order 10% more than you need, for wastage)
  • Fertiliser
  • Tiller

How long do lawn seeds need to germinate?

When you lay a new lawn from seed, the germination time depends on several factors such as the weather, soil temperature, type of grass seed used and amount of water it gets. If conditions are perfect, germination takes around seven to 20 days. Steady temperatures plus plenty of sunshine, abundant water and high-quality seed will deliver the best germination germination. Lawn mixes usually germinate after a few days. High-quality mixtures need between 2 and 4 weeks to germinate.

A woman relaxes on a garden swing next to a STIHL RMA 339 cordless lawnmower on a green plot

Petrol-powered, electric or cordless lawn mower: the right option for you

Choosing the right lawn mower is the first step to achieving a well-maintained lawn. All of our models combine high quality, clever features and an attractive design. 

Note: Make sure your mower blades are sharp before mowing your lawn for the first time, to ensure the delicate blades are cut cleanly, rather than torn and damaged.

Rolled turf or grass seed?

Although sowing a new lawn from seed is not difficult, it does require a lot of patience. If you lay rolled turf, you will see instant results. Ultimately, it depends on how quickly you want an attractive lawn. 

Advantages of turf Disadvantages of turf
You just need to unroll turf to lay it, so it becomes a usable lawn much more quickly than seed.
If you have a large area to cover, turf is much more laborious to lay than seed.
Turf is already covered with dense grass and so is more resistant to weeds.
Using turf is considerably more expensive than sowing grass seed.
Turf is simple to lay.

Turf must be laid immediately after delivery; otherwise, there is a risk of rotting and discolouration.

Summary: how to lay a lawn

  • Choose a suitable type of grass for your garden.
  • Loosen the soil and let it settle for a week.
  • Lay your turf or scatter seeds evenly and roll them into the soil.
  • Keep the soil constantly moist for 3 to 4 weeks.
  • Only mow your new lawn with recently sharpened or new blades.