Lawn Repair Advice
The weather at the end of 2019 and the beginning of 2020 here in the UK has been a roller coaster of heavy rain storms and milder conditions. Flooding in northern England has been ongoing now for nearly two months (December – February 2020) and whilst the condition of your lawn may be the last problem on your mind, the wet weather will have an impact on the condition of your lawn leading into Spring.
With the changing weather, nasty weeds and overhanging trees, lawn care can be a real pain in the ass sometimes. For most people it can be really hard work, especially in areas of damage needing repair.
Now imagine you went through all this hard work, say when removing a tree root, only to find you’ve done the entire process incorrectly and after a couple weeks the problem’s back again. I’d say you’d be pretty annoyed at yourself and probably a little deflated.
There’s no point in going through your entire process again because the same thing will happen in a couple of weeks but at the same time you want to get rid of the tree root. Understandably, you could be left a little stumped. Well not to worry because I’m going to help you out.
Below I’ve went through some common problems you’re likely to see at one point during the season and explained exactly how you should deal with them.
There are two ways to deal with weeds: manually and with weeds killers. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, it’s really up to your preference and your situation.
For this to be effective you need to not only remove the plants but the roots accompanying them, otherwise they’ll just grow back.
With a small hoe, dig into the soil around the stem of the weed to loosen the soil. For short roots you can just grab tight of the stem and pull gently but with longer roots you’ll need to be a little more careful, making sure no roots snap with some left in the soil.
You might need to keep digging deeper several times to be effective so just keep at it.
If you want to make the entire manual process easier then you can use a weed puller.
With a Weed Killer
Now it really depends on your situation for which type of weed killer you use. If you have smaller areas of weeds that are spread out around your lawn then use a selective weed killer. They target the surrounding weeds without damaging any other areas of grass.
But if you have weeds spread all over your lawn then you want to use a Triple Action Lawn Treatment. They’re part feed, weed killer and moss killer so there’s no need to work about damaging other areas of grass, just remember to follow instructions of the bag.
You can apply both of these by hand or, if you want to do it quicker, with a lawn spreader.
It’s important to remember that weeds aren’t just pests that are there to dampen your day (even though it can seem like it), they can actually be quite helpful and good indicators of even bigger problems with your soil. For example, crabgrass can point to soil compaction which means you’ll need to aerate your lawn.
Just because you have removed all of the weed doesn’t mean the job’s finished, there’s likely to be more work for you to do, it’s just finding out exactly what that is and getting to it as quick as you can.
Unlike treating weeds, there is just one process you should carry out and that is scarifying. This is the simplest to do and will remove all the moss down to its roots.
Using a spring tine rake or a scarifying machine, start scraping away at all the areas of moss. They don’t have long roots so they should just lift right up but I’ve you’ve got them all over your lawn then it could be quite the workout. Make sure you’ve removed all the moss from the lawn before moving to the next step.
After scarifying you need to apply a moss killer. As the dense moss has just been opened up, the moss killer can penetrate the soil all the way down to the bottom of the moss plant. This ensures that all the moss dies, which you will need to rake out when it turns black.
You will then want to aerate the lawn, if you have a small area of moss then a pitch fork will do just fine but if it’s all over the lawn you’ll want to rent an aerating machine. This relives compaction, improves the drainage and allows for air and any fertiliser you apply to reach deep into the roots.
To further help the soil with drainage and to ensure healthy grass growth you should now apply a topdressing to the soil. Make sure you cover the entire damaged area and then with a brush or the back of the rake, sweep the topdressing into the soil so that it fills all the holes you’ve just made by aerating.
Now it’s time to overseed this area. You want to scatter it lightly and evenly so using your hand is fine but if you want it done quicker I recommend using a lawn spreader. Make sure you buy the correct overseed for your grass type and follow the instructions on the box.
When treating a bare patch make sure you follow the process below:
- Remove all dead grass, best to use a dethatching machine.
- Break up the soil with a garden trowel or a rake.
- Add grass seeds evenly across the bare patch, consider how much shade/sun exposure your lawn is getting before choosing which types you use. You want good contact with the seed and soil so work the seed in using the back of the rake.
- Spread compost to the spot so that it has about a quarter of an inch coverage, make sure all seed is covered otherwise it could dry out and won’t germinate. This keeps the soil moist and protects it from washing away during times of heavy rain.
- Make sure you keep this area moist so lightly water it once a day until the seeds germinate and the new grass grows to about an inch tall. Make sure you don’t water too heavily or else the soil could run away with the soil.
Bumps & Hollows
For those with slight undulations in their lawn, you can treat your problem with topdressing which shouldn’t be too stressing. But for those with bumps and hollows about 1 – 2 inches deep, you’ll need to go through quite a hefty procedure.
For smaller (under 1 – 2 inches):
- With a spade slice down the centre of the bump or hollow to split it in half.
- Now push your spade underneath one side of the turf to cut its roots and then pull it back in a strip. Do the same for the other side.
- Either remove (for a bump) or add (for a hollow) soil to the required height and then fold the strip back and stamp down on the turf using the spade.
- Make sure you’re using the same soil, or at least similar, to that of your lawn. If you have both bumps and hollows then you can just recycle the removed soil.
For larger (over 2 inches) bumps and hollows you’re going to need to completely remove the turf, add/remove soil and then returf or seed. To get a better grass match you will probably want to reseed the area instead of using the removed turf even though this would be easier to lay.
Please make sure you don’t fill the hollows with soil on top of the turf and then re-seeding. This will just cause the area to dry rapidly to the point where it won’t survive. Always remove the turf first.
If you’re having problems with hollows on a frequent basis then you may want to aerate your lawn. This is usually due to soil compaction and poor drainage so aerating should solve this.
Because of the lack of sunlight, areas of lawn within shade can become heavily thin over the summer and winter seasons. Grass won’t survive here so you’re either going to have to replace the entire area with a shade tolerant plant or overseed the entire area every spring.
If you choose to reseed the area then make sure you do it as early as possible (ideally in the beginning of spring) and well before any leaves grow on your trees. This way the younger grass blades will get the maximum amount of sun exposure they can before the leaves get in the way. Even shade tolerant grasses need some sunlight.
Selecting a shade tolerant grass mix is probably the most important factor for growing in the shade so make sure you choose one that’s suitable for your lawn. For example, Fescue grasses are better at coping with shade drought and poor nutrition levels, and mixes with more bent grass are better at dealing with damp soil.
When you’re mowing the lawn make sure to keep it quite low (preferably between 2 – 2 ½ inches), mow less frequently and always remove grass clippings.
Also the area beneath a tree requires watering just like everywhere else but just make sure you do so infrequently and heavily. This should promote the tree to root deeply and will therefore reduce the extent to which they compete with the lawn.
As the roots of the tree thicken, they often force the lawn surface upwards to the point where they can even become exposed themselves. These aren’t the prettiest of things so you’ll want to get them sorted. For minor problems you can apply topdressing lightly and frequently to build up the lawn surface until it covers the root.
But for more severe situations, i.e. exposed roots, then you’ll probably have to cut open and fold back the turf to cut and remove the root. As this could affect the health of the lawn I recommend consulting a Tree Surgeon.
Once you have it removed, similar to repairing a hollow, you need to fill the empty space with similar soil to that of the lawn and roll the turf back into place and stamp down on it with a spade.
If you found this post interesting then maybe you’d like to see some of my other content, like my robomower reviews? If so then head over to my Robot Lawn Mower Review Page, I’ve reviewed various models all designed for different purposes so if you’re in the market there won’t be a better place to go than here!
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