Waterlogged lawns seem to be common where I live, at this time of year, and it is a mess and puts me off going into the garden. If it’s the same with you, read on to find out how to tackle this too often muddy problem.
What causes a waterlogged lawn?
Poor drainage in the soil under your lawn means rain water drains slowly or can't drain away and sits on the surface. That prevents air from reaching the roots of the grass, which drowns.
This is likely if the soil under your lawn wasn’t prepared well before grass was sown or turf laid. And it is most likely on clay soils and where soil and grass have been compacted (squashed hard), such as under garden furniture or equipment and on grass paths.
What’s the problem with waterlogged lawns?
In long periods of wet weather they become a mud bath. In many UK regional climates that means a few months out of use. Waterlogged grass dies. You have to re-seed or re-turf: time and money involved here, and the lawn is out of bounds again while you take action.
And waterlogged lawns have other problems. Algae, lichen, moss and tussocks of rush are likely to move in. More time and money needed to take action, and your lawn is less lawn and more mess (don't get me wrong - I have friends who are fans of mossy lawns, and they can look and feel good in the right place, but not in small areas or neat gardens).
Immediate treatment for waterlogged lawns
Keep off the grass! If you must walk on the grass create a narrow and temporary walkway with wooden boards.
Prevention is the key
1. Reduce the risk of compacted soil by moving garden furniture and equipment around your lawn during the summer (that way you have a new view on your garden too) or create gravel areas for alfresco dining or sitting in the sun.
2. Aerate your lawn in autumn. The video on this website shows how to do it. It's simple: walk up and down the lawn, pushing a garden fork down into the soil about 3cm (1 inch) every 30cm (12 inches) or so in regular lines. Big lawn? Invest in a special tool (called a hollow tiner) or treat it as a walk in the park and enjoy being outdoors. Sprinkle ‘lawn top dressing’ or horticultural sand over the aerated lawn (you can find those products in good garden centres).
3. Keep your lawn healthy by applying purpose made feeds in spring and autumn (the feed mix is different for different seasons so don’t think one type will do for the year). If you don’t like moss – remove it by hand (pull or scrape it up with a trowel) or use a moss killer.
4. If your lawn is on clay and regularly becomes a quagmire, consider radical action. Most radical is to install a drainage system of pipes under the lawn or remove the existing lawn and lay a new one on a 5cm (2in) bed of sharp sand overlaid with topsoil. Less radical is creating ditches around the edge of your lawn, so rainwater can drain out of the lawn and away. A big change that looks lovely is to replace the grass in your garden paths and alfresco dining and seating areas with gravel. That will reduce the chance of compaction and help rainwater drain away.
Here's to enjoying your lawn all year!
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