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What’s the deal with rolling lawns?

March 8, 2021

What’s the deal with rolling lawns?

Key points:

  • Lawns don’t usually need to be rolled – apart from installation of new turf.
  • Rolling can give that striped-look like sports-stadium on the TV, but can lead to compaction at home
  • Rolling is usually best left to the professionals at bowls, croquet and golf courses.

Most professionals agree that it’s a good idea to roll your lawn when new turf is installed and that’s about all the rolling it will need.

Thoughts of rolling the lawn conjures up imagery of last-century tennis or bowls matches or even the finishing touches you see being made on high-profile cricket and football pitches.

But what about home lawns and rolling – is it necessary or even required at all to get a great-looking lawn?

Many avid gardeners believe that rolling flattens your lawn. Although it may flatten a few worm castings or some damaged areas, it won’t flatten the overall lawn and can in the long run do more harm than good.

Rolling can be a good idea when you first install a new lawn from turf. Although not entirely necessary, it can help create better contact between the new turf sod and the soil surface allowing new roots to better penetrate and help prevent the new turf drying out as much.

Apart from that, a lawn roller, although a useful tool, should not become a regular part of your landscape maintenance routine. Regular rolling can cause stress to the grass and compaction of your soil, so limiting the use of a lawn roller is usually best practice at home.

What you don’t often see with the professionals, is the amount of aeration work they do to counter their rolling efforts.

The reality is that in a domestic lawn the rolling may have a slight impact on levelling the lawn but will damage the soil by compacting the surface. It compresses the soil, drives out the air pockets and creates a difficult environment for the grass roots to develop. Water also has a more difficult time penetrating down to the roots and they will gradually struggle, leading to poorer-performing grass.

Many sports surfaces where you see rolling taking place are specially-built and can be 100 percent sand, so rolling doesn’t cause any compaction, but of course they then require constant curator-type attention.

Lawns that are thick and healthy do not need rolling, as the healthy root and thatch layers will level out nicely with regular mowing.

For the longer-term, an annual top dressing, rather than rolling, is a far better treatment option to consider.

Applying a good quality sand-organic blend topdress mix to your lawn will keep any minor cracks and dips filled in, help keep your lawn level, get rid of any spongy thatch and maintain a good quality soil texture. Just remember that topdressing should only be undertaken during the warmer months when your lawn is healthy growing well and don’t cover your grass entirely.

You’ll see far more benefits from topdressing every now and then than rolling can achieve.

For further information and local advice, talk to one of our Kings Pride Turf Growers in a location near you – details on grower section on this site.