Scheduling the Work


Before starting any construction or cultivation, prepare a schedule to minimise disruption on the site. This means planning the work in a logical order, so that the messiest and most detailed tasks, such as the building of a wall or patio, are undertaken first.

Jobs such as sowing , planting, transplanting, or laying turf should be carried out at an appropriate time, otherwise the plants may not survive: autumn, winter, or early spring may be best. Construction work may be better in summer or autumn when bad weather conditions are less likely to affect the work. Plan these two stages first, then structure the rest of the timetable around them.

Existing Planting

If necessary, protect any plants to be kept in their present positions to avoid damage from construction work. Remove unwanted plants. In the dormant season, lift any plants that are required elsewhere, transplant them or heel them in temporarily.

Existing Hard Features

Renovate or repair existing garden structures. This may be done at any time of year - weather conditions permitting.

Existing Turf

If turf is in reasonable condition and the lawn's shape or position is to be changed, lift the turf and relay it as soon as possible (see our article on moving turf for more details). Turf should also be lifted if it is likely to be damaged by construction work, then relaid afterwards.

Although it is best to move turf in early spring or early autumn, turf may be moved in winter and stored for three or four weeks before relaying. Never lift turf in summer unless essential.

New Construction Work

If possible, complete this before beginning any cultivation or planting. Before any major work is started, check the location of all service cables and pipes, such as gas and water, to ensure that they will not be damaged.

Soil Cultivation

Remove all rubble, debris or scrub. If the soil has been compacted by trampling or machinery, cultivate it deeply (see our articles on digging techniques). The best times of year to cultivate soil are in the spring or early summer, as the ground may be left fallow for a while and any weeds removed. You should also remove any roots and stumps as they can be the source of honey fungus.

Preparing the soil for planting may also involve removing stones, incorporating well-rotted organic matter, fertilizing and raking the soil to a fine tilth. Carry out these tasks just before planting or a few weeks beforehand.

New Planting and Lawns

This is best carried out in autumn, although it can also be carried out in spring. Plant up beds, borders and containers as indicated by your planting scheme, and sow grass seed or lay turf as required. Any plants that have been stored in temporary positions should transplanted into their final allotted places.