DIY The Lawn of Your Dreams

In this article, James Collins talks about his project to redo the struggling lawn in his backyard in Fremantle. He talks about what motivated him to tackle the job, equipment used and advice for people planning to install their own lawn.

Four years ago we re-landscaped our whole backyard and front yard as a part of some big renovations. We opted for the convenient option of just digging up the old grass and not replacing any of the soil underneath. We just put brand new rolls of lawn on top of old sandy soil that wasn’t very good. Sure enough three years later, that lawn has just been getting progressively worse and worse. It got to the point where it was half brown, half green and all bumpy. It didn’t look any good.

At the same time, we had this nice garden that was thriving because we put in good soil when we were setting up the garden beds. We’ve been admiring the great garden, but the lawn was just terrible. I decided that it was time to do it properly and replace the lawn and do it all again. This time we’d be doing it properly with proper landscaping soil to give it the best chance of growing and looking green for the years to come.

New Lawn In Progress
New Lawn In Progress

Research

The first step I took was to do some research. I wanted to find out how professional landscapers handle this kind of project. I found plenty of case studies online where they come in and dig out the old lawn and remove all the old soil and put in new soil. They feed in the proper nutrients and then plant new lawn. We took the DIY approach but followed the same process. I decided to do it myself because it felt like a fun project to get me away from computer screens!

Equipment Hire

I had to figure out how big the lawn area was and roughly how deep we thought we’d have to dig out so we could hire the right size skip bin.  We also needed to hire the right size ride-on digger to make it much easier for us to move soil about. It would need to fit down the side of the house through the narrow walkway.

Choosing Soil

At the start I spent some time trying to find what soil mix is best to use for new grass. That’s when I decided on Simply Soils Landscape Mix because it is really commonly used for gardens and new lawns. 

Equipment

I got the skip bin delivered, the soil delivered, and hired the ride-on digger for a day. I booked the new lawn to get delivered a few days after that. Then it was just the matter of getting the job done. It was a lot of fun as well as a lot of hard work too.

Removing Old Grass

We managed to remove all the existing lawn and put the new dirt in within the first day, because that’s how long we had the digger so we really pushed ourselves to complete that stage. We filled the skip bin up and moved all the landscape mix into place. I took the next day or two to fully level it out and compact it a bit with the roller just to make sure that it was all level and flat ready for the lawn to go in. So we did it all on a Tuesday, a little bit on the Wednesday and then a new lawn went in on Friday.

New Lawn Installed

It’s great because right now, as spring is in full swing, the garden around the lawn is looking great. Lots of flowers, everything’s green, and now I’ve finally got some nice green lawn to go along with it too. I loved seeing the look on the kids’ faces seeing a nice looking lawn there. You could see they just wanted to run on it. They will, but not just yet.

DIY-The-Lawn-of-Your-Dreams-Before-After
Before & After

Time To Settle 

They were really excited and happy, but I had to explain that they can’t use it for a month or so. I’ve had to build a little fence around it so no-one can use it in these early days because it is still getting established. That said,  it’s great to look out at all that green and it will be fun over the coming summer.

Do It Right

If I have one regret it’s not doing it properly the first time around. What I thought was a shortcut four years ago, ended up being a lot of extra work and a lot more money paying for two lots of lawn instead of one. On top of that, there was a few years of not being happy with how the struggling lawn looked. That initial money saving ended up costing in other ways.

Read Around

I was surprised at how much useful information all of the turf supply places publish online. They offer information about installation and the types of things you should do to give your lawn the best chance of success. The Simply Soils site made it pretty clear that Landscape Mix was the one to use, because it’s used very often for new turf. In terms of the delivery, everything went really well. Nick was really flexible and happily delivered on a Saturday morning for me. He made the soil delivery side of things very easy.

Avoid Paying Twice

In summary, I really can’t stress how doing it properly the first time is the main thing. When you’re spending hundreds on a new lawn, the soil that goes under it is a smaller cost in all of that. If you really want to avoid paying for lawn twice, then it makes sense to just do it properly the first time.

I’m not an avid gardener, it’s an occasional thing. I like mowing the lawn and maintaining the backyard. I find it really confusing and a bit frustrating when things aren’t growing as well as they could or should. So I find it effortless to maintain a lawn that’s growing well and is green.  I’d happily mow it every week because it’s growing too fast. But as soon as you start seeing brown patches and dead patches, it’s just frustrating knowing that it should be better than that. I’m really confident that this time around we’ve finally got a lawn that’s going to look great for years to come.