How to Use a Garden Roller

A garden roller is just the job if you want to keep your lawn healthy, flat and level - whether you choose to buy a roller with a solid concrete drum or one which is made or plastic or steel and filled with sand or water.

Whether you have a small garden and opt for a push along manual roller, or your have an extensive lawn and choose a tow behind roller, you can rest assured you'll be using the right device to help you establish good drainage patterns and improve the overall appearance of your lawn.

A lawn roller is great for levelling your lawn and is perfect for pressing down new seeds and turf. It also helps to remove air pockets and enables easier mowing.

Using a roller is fairly straightforward and the more you use one, the better you will become at achieving the results you desire. Some rollers are capable or creating the lovely-looking grass stripes you often seen on football pitches and other sports settings.

A push roller will normally be made from rust-free steel or extra-tough polyethylene plastic and can be filled with sand or water. They often have a scraper blade along the top of the roller to catch loose material which has been gathered in the rolling process and some have round edges on the roller to prevent gouging when the device is being turned around on the lawn. 

If you’re using your roller to get rid of bumps in the lawn you should dig three inches around each hump and roll back the turf. Then you should remove any excess soil and replace the turf before using the roller. The area should then be watered thoroughly and you may need to use a roller several times again on your lawn after watering to ensure the surface is completely flat.

If you have a problem with depressions in your lawn you will need to place additional soil under the turf instead of removing it. Again, a thorough watering is required before using the roller to get your lawn flat and level again.

A lawn roller comes into its own when you need to sow new grass seeds. First you should roll the lawn and get rid of any dead grass before spreading the new seeds.

New grass seeds should be distributed evenly with a lawn spreader and then watered thoroughly. And then it’s time for your roller to go to work, embedding the new seeds into the ground and helping them to germinate. If new seed isn’t rolled, there is a risk of it blowing away in the wind or being eaten by birds.

A roller is also the right tool for the job when you wish to replace an area of turf - it helps the newly-laid turf bed into the soil, thereby encouraging it to take root.

When you have used the roller on the new turf it should be watered thoroughly. You should consider rolling the new turf again after about a fortnight.

You should push your garden roller from one end of your lawn to the other, in one fluid motion, without stopping, to give you the best results. You should avoid the temptation to use a roller on your lawn more often than necessary - too much rolling can stress your grass and even damage it.

If you are using a tow behind roller with a ride-on mower or mini tractor, you should drive slowly to ensure the roller gets enough time to press on the ground effectively and carry out the levelling process. You will need to make a series of passes on particularly bumpy ground.

Your lawn should be rolled when it is moist and damp - but don't roll after a heavy fall or rain as this could result in the solid become compacted and deprived if vital air it needs.

It’s also a good idea to use your lawn roller after the winter thaw to get your grassed area flat and smooth again - this is normally around February to March in the UK.