Many garden lawns remain waterlogged throughout the entire winter across the UK, with little or no chance of drying out until the warm dry weather appears. This seems to be an increasing problem in gardens all over the country as after even a small amount of rainfall, water lingers in the ground leaving lawns soggy and unsuitable for walking on. So how can homeowners dry out their lawns? The answer is in improving lawn drainage.
It’s easy to tell if you have a waterlogging problem in your lawn – apart from the obvious appearance of puddles of water, the grass will squelch as you walk on it and the top layer of soil will be slimy and sticky, water drains off too slowly or fails to drain off at all, and the roots of the grass slowly drown, which turns the grass yellow and it eventually dies. Waterlogging is a particular problem in areas with compacted and clay soils.
Wet conditions in lawns can encourage fungal growths such as algae, lichens and liverworts, which cause unsightly problems and can make the grass slippery. Moss is also a result of waterlogged lawns, but can be rectified in the spring and autumn with a good quality lawn feed.
Poor soil preparation before laying a new lawn can often be the cause of bad drainage, however this can be rectified by aerating the lawn then brushing over a top dressing or horticultural sand, which fills the holes and improves the drainage. Applying a fertiliser to the lawn in spring will encourage the growth of a strong root system and enable the grass to recover faster during wet conditions.
In severe cases of waterlogging the worst-case scenario is to re-lay the lawn, ensuring the correct soil preparation has been carried out beforehand. After preparing the ground, spread a 5cm deep layer of sharp sand across the entire area to be turfed, followed by a layer of good quality topsoil mixed with nutrient-filled manure-based compost, before laying the turf. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to install an underground drainage system, however this can be very expensive and time consuming, and usually requires a contractor to carry out the work.