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Prep work advice for large lawn

Discussion in 'Lawns' started by JDQuinn, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. JDQuinn

    JDQuinn Apprentice Gardener

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    Hi All,

    I'm relatively inexperienced when it comes to gardening and really struggle with my existing front lawn which,I suspect, is due to heavy water retaining top soil and heavy clay subsoil.

    This time I'm determined to create the perfect conditions for my large rear 3/4 acre plot for a nice lawn for my two young kids to kick a ball about in and somewhere myself and wife can relax and entertain in.

    The plot was very low and poor when we built our house but we were very fortunate to be offered plenty of subsoil from a local farmer digging out for a new farm shed for free. He provided the dump trucks and I provided the 'dozer to level it out. There was a very light layer of top soil spread over the closest part of the ground to the house. This was full of humps and bumps and seemed to be water logged; for several years I let it grow wild due to concentrating on finishing the house.

    At the end of 2015 I levelled it out and sowed some wheat grass due to it being too late in the season for grass. Unfortunately the crows got all the seed so a light layer of grass seed was sown in the hope it would combine the soil.

    Last year I didn't do any more work to the plot except cut it from time to time. The grass is very coarse and patchy, the soil appears to be compacted and doesn't drain even though there is a drainage ditch on 3 sides. The ground is hard underfoot even where there is standing water. I believe there is no top soil at the rear just subsoil. The soil is also incredibly stony.

    This year I hope to resow around July/ august which seems to be the best time to sow locally for a high rate of seed germination.

    Now to my question, what do I need to do to create a nice flat lawn where the grass grows green and healthy and the soil feels nice underfoot?
     
  2. Linz

    Linz Head Gardener

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    Hi welcome @JDQuinn I'm not an expert by no means but have you tried aerating the soil with a fork, you could brush in sand and it will help with the drainage of the soil. If the grass is coarse it's not too bad a thing.. if the kids like to play football or is being walked/trampled on a lot. Pics of the area and your location is always a bonus. I'm sure more helpful advice will come along soon. All the best :)
     
  3. Mowerman

    Mowerman Gardener

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    @JDQuD.inn - My advise (as often said) is to go on Amazon and buy a 2nd hand copy of the Lawn Expert by Dr D G Hessayson. The book is cheap as chips (literally!).

    Practically everything you need to know about creating and mantaining a nice green sward is in this book and you can work outwhat needs to be done to create a magnificent lawn in almost every condition.

    Pics here may help expand on this though if you need further advise.
     
  4. Redwing

    Redwing Wild Gardener

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    Can the friendly farmer supply you with a couple of loads of manure? Organic matter does wonders for clay soil. Rotovate it in to your clay and you will have a very good seedbed. Sow from March onwards.
     
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    • JDQuinn

      JDQuinn Apprentice Gardener

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      Thanks all for replies. After posting this I was searching through the forum and noticed "the lawn expert" book mentioned several times as mower man has just suggested. I bought it on amazon used for 1p. It's a little dry in content (great bed time reading for insomniacs), but informative and to the point. I really like the lawn assessment guide on page 10. I bet a lot of people thought they had a first rate lawn until they read that!

      I see I've made quite a few mistakes resulting in my front lawn not being of a satisfactory condition which, hopefully, can be fixed without a complete redo. I need to improve on my drainage, fertilising routine, weed control, moss control and mowing technique to get a decent looking lawn.

      My rear plot has too little top soil and would be way out of budget to rectify entirely so I plan to clear the rear most part and not fertilise. About 1/3rd of this plot could be put to wild flower meadow without worrying about grass taking over. The rest I hope to scrape back to subsoil, put several inches of gravel down and top off with good topsoil well mixed with grit sand to break it up. A bit of farm yard manure at this point might also work wonders as suggested. This should give a reasonable lawn without too much expense.

      This might seem like a lot of work but I've always wanted a large well kept lawn and now have everything in front of me to facilitate it; I may need to wait a year though as I'm building a garage which could mean building works destroying a lawn. If the garage goes up quick enough though I might be able to get the lawn done this year.
       
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      • Loofah

        Loofah Well used member

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        Have you actually dug down to see what's underneath? Sounds like the rocks might be creating the waterlogging but in any event you'll want to clear them to have any decent lawn.
         
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        • Mowerman

          Mowerman Gardener

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          @Loofah - very good point. It's surprising what lies under the subsoil in some gardens. Old building foundations, rows of old bricks and even a pit of asbestos are some of the joyous experiences I've experienced when planting trees, shrubs etc.

          @JDQuinn - Lol @ bedtime reading. Very true... but it may give you nightmares at the work and expense required! :snork:

          If you're going to create a wild flower area (which is a fantastic idea!) to help the local wildlife, a recommendation would be to keep it seperated a reasonable distance from a prized lawn.

          Grasses that often sprout up in a wild flower area could find their way into your lawn. Couch grass, Yorkshire Fog, Timothy, annual and perrennial meadow grass etc would look unsightly in a top-notch lawnlawn as most have a different hue and broader, fast growing blades and can be difficult to eradicate.
           
        • Mowerman

          Mowerman Gardener

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          BTW the reason I mentioned weed grasses and not the potential fallout from wild flowers springing up in your lawn is that selective weedkillers for lawns can be used to kill off most plants but leave your grass unharmed, or even grow like crazy (with feed and weed that is).

          Removing weed grasses can be a nightmare as weed grass is grass at the end of the day, so will be problem to remove, particularly with couch grass as it can stand out a mile away and the roots are an absolute nightmare to remove.
           
        • Sandy Ground

          Sandy Ground Super Gardener

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          Back when I moved into this house, and had the need to lay a new lawn, I did buy this book. I even followed the advice in it. The big problem is, I soon found out that it was not all that practical or correct (IMHO) in certain aspects, especially as regards larger lawns.
           

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