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Lawncare: reviving a waterlogged lawn

Friday, 7 March 2014
There's a very good reason why I haven't written much this week. The sun has been out in London so in the few hours I have to myself each day when Bella & Bear are at school and I would usually sit down to blog, I have been out in the garden instead... soaking up the rays (read digging in). In fact it's been a big week in the garden; the long overdue new fences have been installed, I've thinned the bamboo grove, pruned the laurel hedge and deadheaded the hydrangeas but the greatest challenge by far has been the lawn.

I'm not certain I can even call it that, a lawn that is. The thing masquerading as a lawn in my garden is so chock full of moss and perennial weeds there's hardly a blade of grass in sight. This situation is wholly unacceptable to me and re-turfing is not an option, so armed with Toby Buckland's advice from the March edition of Gardener's World I am fighting back. Toby's plan is a twelve week rescue mission and I would highly recommend buying the magazine and reading the article for yourself.

My goal this week was to rake out the majority of the thick moss that is out competing the grass, which I have done. In total I've taken out over five large garden bags full of moss. Sadly this is not the end of the story. After the thick moss has been broken up and removed there is always some left but this can then be effectively treated with a selective lawn weedkiller that will not kill the grass and raked out (again) in two weeks time.

While I'm waiting for it to take full effect here are the other steps I will be taking in March to ensure my lawn is a lush, green swathe come the summer;
  • The first mow of the season, always keep the blades set high for the first cut. Mow in one direction then again in the opposite direction to catch any long blades of grass missed. Collect the grass clippings and dispose of them.
  • Improve aeration in areas where drainage is poor by repeatedly pushing a garden fork about 10 to 15cms into the soil and giving it a wiggle. Working backwards (so you don't tread on the area you've forked) do this at 15cm intervals. You can brush builders sand over the lawn after doing this if you really want to improve drainage.
  • Dig out perennial weeds by hand and apply a selective weedkiller to any remaining weed patches.
  • Once the weeds and moss are under control feed the lawn with a specialist lawn feed. Water in if there is no rain forecast.
  • Edge the border of the lawn and keep well trimmed.
  • Reseed any bare patches a few days after feeding. Rake in and water well.

By the end of March I will be mowing the lawn with the blades at mid-height about once a week (avoiding newly sown patches, which could be the entire lawn...) and (fingers crossed) will be well on the way to achieving a lush patch of grass ready for Bella & Bear to destroy with games later in the summer. I think I will also paint that wall and remove the water butt. I've never liked the colour. Perhaps black to showcase the hydrangea I'm going to plant there... what do you think?


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