Before laying a turf lawn – or planting a lawn – it is important to ascertain the type of soil upon which you will be growing your lawn. Simply planting grass in soil already existent within the garden environment without checking its ability to sustain a healthy growing lawn is not enough and can cause you more difficulties later on.
There are different types of soil and different lawns that will flourish with them; these are the soil types that are most common:
These soils are the most common to be found in the British Isles and are each, in their own way, excellent for growing varying types of shrubbery and plant. However, when it comes to growing and nourishing a lawn not all of these soils are suitable so it is best to check early on to find out which soil your garden contains.
This type of soil is normally very sticky and pliable and often lumpy in wet conditions, but when they dry out they form hard clots. Clay soil is made up of fine particles, which contain little in the way of air spaces, making them hard to work with and at best difficult to drain.
Sandy soils are gritty and have formed from weathered rocks: the likes of limestone, shale and quartz. Should the soil contain enough in the way of organic matter then it is easy to cultivate most things within it but sometimes it is prone to over-draining and drying out in the summer months. Likewise, in the autumn and winter months it can have some difficulty holding on to moisture and nutrients making it a good soil to work with but a difficult one to keep topped up with everything your lawn would need to survive. A lot of additional work is involved.
Loamy soil is the one soil that most gardeners say is the perfect soil to grow in. Made up of around 40% sand, 40% silt and 20% clay Loamy soils have varying degrees of texture, which range from easily pliable soil to tightly packed clots. These are normally full of organic matter and drain well but generally still retain a lot of moisture and are rich in nutrients.
Containing more acidity than other soils, Peaty Soil contains a lot more organic material than other soils because the level of acidity slows down the level of decomposition. Also containing fewer nutrients than a lot of other soils it can be prone to an over retention of water. Using fertiliser and a strict gardening regime alongside a decent drainage system and this particular type of soil can be an excellent growing soil.
Normally light brown in colour, Chalky soils are of an alkaline nature and will usually contain stones of varying sizes. Drying out quickly in the summer and blocking out trace elements such as iron and manganese, it is definitely not a soil to try and establish plants or grass in. The quality of Chalky soil – it has to be said – is quite poor and needs a lot of regular work including the introduction of fertilisers and other soil improvers over a sustained period of time.
So, for growing your lawn it is safe to say that either Loamy or Peaty soils are the best to use for establishing and nurturing a lawn that will grow all year round and be visually pleasing on the eye. You could get away with having a soil such as a Clay or Sandy type but you should be aware that these would need a lot of additional work to help you on your way.
There are things you can do like increase the PH of your soil – or indeed lower it – should your lawn require it and more often than not your local garden nursery will be able to provide you with the best advice on how to go about this process as well as being able to supply you with all the required materials to help you get your soil just right for laying that first sod or planting that first batch of seeds.