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Hi all,

I've been fighting a losing battle with a poor, uneven, weed-riddled lawn. This year I plan to kill off the existing patch (about 30ft x 20ft) and relay with new turf.

Last year I added a brick edging to the lawn which means I'm in a position to raise the level of the lawn by a couple of inches. So, after killing the old lawn I was going to add appropriate top-soil to raise the level before laying turf.

What's the best process to achieve this?

1. What do I do to kill the lawn - whilst making sure that there's no harm to new turf?

2. How do I remove the dead thatch?

3. What time of year would be best to crack on with this project?

Thanks in advance for any advice.



A good dig for a start. Improve the soil. A couple of inches of topsoil on top of  compacted, badly dained, impoverished...........etc, ground won't support a good lawn.


Glyphosate will kill the old lawn, but it works best when the grass is growing and it takes about 3 weeks. It is inactivated in the soil, works on the green leaf it touches. Then rake off dead thatch. Otherwise you can dig up the existing grass in turves and turn them over, grass side down, which will be a bit like using green manure. Weedkiller is best if it is full of perennial weeds. Rotovate the top. Rake in fertiliser, like blood, fish and bone. Actually there is a good site explaining what to do here:


Any glyphosate based weedkiller will kill all the existing growth without leaving any harmful residues. Your local garden centre or DIY barn is sure to have a selection.

The weedkiller will need warmer weather and for the plants to be actively growing in order to work so depending on where you live about another 4-6 weeks maybe? It will take about 2 weeks to work and might need another application but a good dig and removal of all remaining roots should take care of anything left.

By then it will be late April/early May which would be a good time to lay the new turf but make sure it is well watered through the summer.


I think, in fact the site above is a bit over the top! It says add sand 20ins thick over the whole area, which I've never heard of before. But it also says add 4 ins topsoil which is what I imagine you were going to do.


Thanks everyone for the speedy and informative replies. So, as far as I understand it, the process is as follows:

1. Apply Glyphosate weedkiller - wait until all grass/weeds are dead (takes about 2 weeks) and reapply to any spots, if necessary.

2. Rotivate the dead lawn.

3. Top up with topsoil to raise the level to required height.

4. Use roller to level and compact.

5. Lay new turf.

6. Keep watered until well established.

This can start when growing season is underway, so anytime from late April onwards.

Sounds like a plan; how hard can it be... 


Just about right -but do not use a roller to compact it-level with a rake and then shuffle with you feet all over the bed  -then rake again-a roller will over compact it

General fertilizer -then lay turf

Thanks sotongeoff - no roller, fine by me, one less tool to hire!


Instead of a roller, nail a couple of old boots onto ca. 12in x 6in boards, and then "shuffle" all over the bed.

thanks everyone I have the same problem to deal with for my daughter who is not a gardener!  Because of the time of year my intention is to cover the lawn with black plastic (I may turn it over first). This should kill off all the awful grass and weeds I hope. When spring comes around I will remove the plastic and start turning it over again to remove all the roots. After which I hope to be able to level the ground as per all the tips above and proceed. It's only a small lawn so I haven't made up my mind yet whether to seed or turf.

Steve 309

Turfing is quicker and more expensive, and you don't always get good turf.  Seed is more work and gives a better finish.  Both need thorough preparation.

There is a thread by Mr Toast "Clearing a Garden" which you may also find useful.  I'll bump it up for you

Thanks Phillipa & Steve, I haven't read all of the posts for Mr Toast but it's nice to see such helpful friendly people about, and I will be going back to the thread. I've found a website that sells slow growing grass seed so that will be perfect for my daughter. 

Thank you for the information. I want to kill my grass off too; but I don't want to lay another lawn! I want to make this an evergreen Shrub bed. I am a bit dubious about using weed killer in case it would harm any shrubs I plant. I was going to buy some black liner to cover it over till spring. Would this be advisable?

Carrie........if you use the correct weedkiller, it shouldn't be a problem for future planting but you need to check carefully and read the small print. 

I would suggest you have a look at the "Clearing a Garden" thread by Mr. Toast - there will be plenty of pointers on there which are applicable to your situation.

If you don't wish to use any chemicals, why not dig up the turf line by line ( you don't give the size of your lawn so I don't know if it is feasible or not ), stack the turf pieces grass side down somewhere and cover over.  Once rotted down, you can at least use it to incorporate into your new borders.  Waste not, Want not  You don't mention whether your present lawn is just grass or you have perennial weeds too.  If so, you will need to eradicate these.......either digging out by hand or using an appropriate weedkiller .

There are a number of members posting here with experience of "Grass" so if none of the above is of any use, start a new thread and you will get more advice


Hi Everyone,  I know that this is an old thread but hopefully someone will spot my post!

I have this problem, old lawn, lumps and bumps, sunken patches, etc.  However I have two problems not mentioned in any of the replies.  One is MOSS, which I guess may be overcome when the ground is turned over but how do I kill off the existing; will glyphosate do the job?

My other problem is ANTS; I suspect that my lawn may be one big ant city.  It is a bit early to spray now; I guess I should have done it in the autumn and then when I turned it over the frost may have done for the ants.  Any tips please?

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