Grass Maintenance – How to Improve a Badly Laid Grass Lawn
Improving Grass Lawn – Grass Maintenance
Let us divide the area already grassed and the area to be grassed into two separate parts. If the front of the house has been turfed and you have paid for it with the cost of your house, it would be unreasonable to suggest you take it up to see what it is laid on, or to re-lay it with special or better turf. Under normal circumstances it would be better to leave it because no matter how bad the turf is it can always be improved by cultivation. Obviously this means that any dressing, feeding or aerating must be done from the top.
Turfing by a builder is usually done by a sub-contractor or, in the case of a large firm, by a specialist department. So no matter what time of the year you take possession, the best thing that you can do is to dress the grass with coarse sand. This will level out irregularities and help to nullify or alleviate the pressure that is often used in the course of construction. Follow this up during the growing season, which extends from the end of February to the end of September, with a dressing of a summer compound lawn fertiliser at the rate of about 2 oz per sq metre.
Only in extreme cases will it be necessary to dig it all up and start again. Obviously this could be a very expensive and time-consuming job. When starting from scratch, it pays to do a bit of exploratory work, even if the surface is covered with what looks like good.
Improving the Soil
It must be remembered that to bury pipes,and cables, trenches are necessary and most likely have been dug by a mechanical digger and infilled the same way. So it is too much to hope that the sub-soil has been returned to the bottom of the trench leaving the top soil at the top. Although at first sight it appears that the contractor or builder has done you a great service by spreading out top soil all over the surface it may conceal horrors which will only manifest themselves when shrubs fail to grow and the grass grows well in some areas and badly or not at all in others.
So although it takes time, it is worthwhile making exploratory holes to a depth of about 18 inches to see exactly what does lie underneath the surface.
This surface layer of reasonable-looking soil so kindly spread by the builder can be a snare and a delusion because immediately under it may be an impermeable layer of clay, an area used as a lime pit or where a cement mixer has been standing and diesel oil has leaked all over the place. The result is that the unsuspecting new owner will carefully rake this top layer, sprinkle it with peat and fertiliser and eventually with grass seed and watch it shade to green as the seeds germinate.
It is when the roots meet the impermeable or poisonous layer that the trouble starts. So it is essential that there should be no such layers and any top soil should be forked into the soil or rubbish underneath. Better still the top soil should be scraped into heaps and the underlying soil should be dug or forked over and exposed to the weather for as long as possible.
Incidentally, exposure to sun and wind is almost as good as exposure to frost and winter weather for ameliorating the soil. Having tested the under-layer for excess water, re-spread the top soil and fork this into the top 6 inches at least. This may well prove discouraging because if a thin layer, say 3 inches thick, is laid over an area of mixed rubbish and clay, the resultant surface will look terrible and not nearly as pleasing as the layer of top soil spread by the builder. However, the results in later years I can assure you will be far, far better than trying to establish a lawn in a thin layer of reasonable soil over what is literally a load of old rubbish.