Lawn Repair Guide: Seed or Turf

The autumn is the perfect time of year to repair your lawn, reseed any patchy areas, or lay new turf. It can feel as though it is going to be a mammoth task, but by dealing with any problems now, you’ll be able to use your lawn as usual by spring.


Regardless of the method you choose, you will need to prepare the soil before you can consider creating a new area of lawn. Start by using a weed killer. This will give your new grass the best chance possible of thriving without interference from pesky weeds. You’ll want one which degrades rapidly, or you could risk leaving harmful residue in your soil.

You’ll need to dig the area next, but as turf is hard to break up it’s a good idea to get rid of it before you get started. It’ll make your job easier! Give the weed killer a few weeks to take effect, and then remove any existing grasses from the area. The old turf can be used for composting once it breaks down.

Pick out any roots, stones or other debris you find as you dig. If you have had the soil tested (or you’re thinking about getting it done), use this opportunity to make the relevant adjustments to improve the soil type.

Dig through the soil again to make sure it well broken up. The depth should be around 20cm. After the area is looking uniform, you can add fertiliser.

Allow the soil to settle for at least a month, and longer if possible.

The final step of your preparation is to get the area completely level. Pull any weeds which might have appeared since you last dug, and then get raking. Once it’s smooth, tread the area several times in different directions. With your weight on your heels, shuffle about on the surface of your prepared ground to make sure you start with a firm base. Rake the area again, and if you have the time, patience, or want a really level surface, repeat the process. Finish by raking. If it has been particular dry, water the ground lightly a few days before you plan to sow the seed or lay the turf.


This is a much, much lower cost option than buying in turf, as the seed itself is available cheaply. If you need to fill in any gaps, just repeat the process with leftover seed.

Sowing and raking into the ground won’t take a huge amount of time, but you will have to wait for the seed to grow substantially before it begins to resemble a lawn.

The main issue with this method is that birds might try and eat your seeds, leaving patchy areas. Cover the area with horticultural fleece or nets which will help prevent birds reaching your seeds. Weeds are also a risk. Pull out any unwanted plants gentle from the base when you see them, avoiding treading on your new grass if you can.

Re-firm the ground when the seedlings are around 7.5cm tall. A few days later cut the grass to remove around one third of its height. The blades should be sharp when you do this to prevent damage to your seedlings. Try and avoid use for as long as possible to allow the grass a chance to take root and settle.


The main benefit of using turf over seed is that it produces an instant effect. It can be used much more quickly than you would be able to use a seeded lawn. It’s quick and easy and the process is pretty rewarding too. If you have children or pets who you might struggle to keep off the grass, it’s definitely the preferred option.


If you don’t need a whole new lawn, you might want to repair and improve the grass you already have. Autumn is also a good time of year to overseed and improve the appearance, colour and the quality of the turf. Aeration is usually also carried out in the autumn and overseeding can be used to help the lawn recover from this process more quickly.

  • Before you overseed, you should rake the lawn to remove any debris, and then mow the lawn fairly closely.
  • Rerake the area, or use a scarifier to break up and remove dead grass, clippings, and thatch. This will also help to stimulate grass growth.
  • Use an aerator or spike the ground with a fork to help alleviate compaction.
  • Feed your lawn with a suitable fertiliser a few days before you plan on sowing your seeds.

All this preparation will give the seeds a better chance of reaching the soil and therefore geminating.

If you’re overseeding the whole lawn then the seed you choose isn’t too important (unless you’re looking to bring in different characteristics). You will need around 25g of seed per square metre, but read the instructions for specifics. It’s best to sow when the ground has been moistened by a good amount of rainfall.

Rake the area to help spread the seed, and encourage it into the ground. When the grass gets to about 5-8cm high, cut it for the first time. Start with a light trim, and gradually lower the blades with subsequent cuts to achieve the desired height.