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Soil Preparation is the Key Factor in New Lawn Establishment

Jul 30, 2019 | Lawn Care Tips and Articles, Lawn Maintenance Tips, Seasonal Lawn Care, Weeds, Pests & Problems

The most important point in establishing a healthy new lawn is having a quality pre-prepared base for it to establish on.

The most important point in establishing a healthy new lawn is having a quality pre-prepared base for it to establish on.

A lot of the new housing developments in NSW are built on large areas of old farming land, that have compacted soil which is high in clay content, and with our Australian climate being so dry, the key to a successful lawn is all in the preparation.

Why soil preparation is important

If the soil under your new turf is not prepared correctly, it can cause poor drainage, compaction that can stop root establishment development and cause pH imbalances.

However, with the right soil preparation, you can prevent all of these things from occurring, ensuring the strong establishment of your newly laid turf.

Soil Preparation for Healthy Lawn Establishment


How to best prepare your soil

1) Remove all weeds and debris

Once you have completely cleared the area, it is very important to ensure that you have also removed any stray weeds, other debris or rocks.

One of the best methods for ensuring that all weeds are eliminated is to carefully apply a non-selective herbicide, such as or Round-Up or All Purpose Weed Control.

TIP: Ideally, any existing weeds should be sprayed 7-10 days before you remove them, and you should always follow the safety instructions and recommended rate when applying herbicides.

However, there are some very stubborn weeds, such as onion weed, which may require a little more work!

A common question that we get here at Cobbitty Lawn Turf is, “Can I just scrape out 5cm of my existing soil, and lay the new turf on it?”

Whilst this does certainly help to ensure the removal of any unwanted debris, clay or poor growing medium – there are a few more steps that you need to take  to ensure the best quality base for your new turf!

One of the most important steps after removing weeds and debris, is using a rotary hoe over your entire soil area.

2) Go over your soil with a rotary hoe

Once your herbicide spray has taken affect, use a rotary over the existing compacted soil to break up the area, making it easier to remove any excess vegetation that has been sprayed out, and also to remove any other stray rocks or debris.

Exceed weeds and debris can be removed and your soil made into a nice smooth, level surface by then going over lightly with a garden rake.

Going over your soil with a rotary hoe will break soil up (especially hard clay soils) removing any compaction, and ensuring an even consistency that is perfect to lay new turf onto.

Breaking your soil up with a rotary hoe will also ensure that you have better water penetration and a deeper root establishment, resulting in a healthier lawn long term.

TIP: You are able to hire a small rotary hoe from your local hire companies for a small fee.

3) Ensure sufficient drainage

If your soil area has a slope, you need to ensure that there is space for surface water to drain away from your house quickly.

By the same token, where a steep slope exists (over 40%), or the slope grade changes drastically, consider installing retaining walls or other surface plantings in these areas to level out a little, as mowing and other maintenance may become difficult down the track.

Ensuring that your areas is as level as possible will also give you a nice even mowing area once new turf is laid.

TIP: Your soil should sit 30mm lower than your paths, driveways etc. as this will allow for the newly laid turf to sit flush with your paths or paving.

Ensure sufficient drainage

4) Ensure your soil quality

Depending on the quality of your existing soil, you will more than likely need to bring in some underlay and add some minerals to ensure that you have an appropriate base for new turf to thrive from.

Firstly start by checking the pH level of your existing soil to ensure that it is in the appropriate range, which is 5.5 – 7.

You can easily assess your soil type and pH level by purchasing a Soil pH Test Kit, such as the Manutec Soil and pH Test Kit.


If your soil has low pH levels (less than 7.0) then add 500 grams of lime per 1m², and mix into the soil well. If your soil has high clay content or is hard and compacted then add Gypsum. Again, always give us a call if you have any questions about this.

TIP: Beware of areas where mortar or ‘brickies sand’ were stored, as these two things can cause high pH issues in your soil.

5) Apply Premium Turf Underlay

The final and most important step to ensure a healthy lawn establishment, is to spread a layer of Premium Turf Underlay over your area which you have been preparing before putting new turf down.

Premium Turf Underlay will help improve soil structure, and provide essential nutrients to your new lawn to promote improved water penetration, and deep root establishment.

TIP: Another fantastic product to add to your soil just before you lay your new turf is a starter fertiliser with water saving crystals in it, called Lawn Launcher.

Adding Lawn Launcher to your prepared area will give your new lawn a kick start in the growth process, promoting a faster, stronger root structure.

To apply, simply spread over your prepared soil base at the recommended rate, and lightly rake into your soil.

For more advice on soil preparation to ensure the healthiest possible new lawn establishment, give our friendly team at Cobbitty Lawn Turf a call today on (02) 4651 0000, and also join The Cobbitty Club!