01/12/2014

Dealing with waterlogged lawns

Heavy rain and poor lawn maintenance often leads to your lawn becoming waterlogged. This is often described as when the lawn becomes squelchy and bogy underfoot, and when water collects in pools on your lawn. Waterlogging can lead to your grass wilting, turning yellow and over prolonged periods dying.

Typical causes of waterlogged lawns are poor soil condition or excessive lawn compaction. These conditions prevent the water from draining from the lawn, causing the lawn to become waterlogged and more susceptible to disease.

Compaction occurs when the soil particles are pushed tightly together removing the space between them where the oxygen would usually circulate to promote healthy grass growth. This often occurs in areas of the garden that are frequently used like pathways or around children’s play equipment. 

If your lawn has become waterlogged, then you need to take action to help remove the excess water from your lawn in the short term and longer term steps to prevent repeated waterlogging. 

The first step in saving your waterlogged lawn is to avoid walking on it as much as possible until the water has drained away. Walking on your lawn will only exacerbate the problem as it will further compact the lawn, and is likely to pull up the grass from the soil turning your lawn into mud. If you do need to walk on your lawn try and spread your weight as much as possible by walking on wooden boards.

If water has pooled on your lawn and doesn’t seem to be draining away after a few days, then try and gently brush the excess water off the lawn into either a run off area of the garden or down a drain. Be careful not to pull the grass out of the lawn when doing this. Use a soft bristle brush for this so you are as gentle as possible on the lawn. 

When the majority of the water has drained away, spike the lawn with a garden fork. The deeper you spike the lawn the better, as it will open up the soil and allow the air to circulate, promoting healthy grass growth. Deeply spiking the lawn will also help the water penetrate deeper into the soil enabling it to be absorbed into areas that it may not have been able to reach previously due to compaction. 

The best tool to use for aerating your lawn is a hollow tine aerator, which pulls up plugs of soil from the lawn. Leave these soil plugs on your lawn and gently break them up with a brush to enable them to breakdown back into the lawn.

Regular aeration of your lawn over the spring and summer months is essential to limit the risk of lawn compaction which often leads to waterlogging of your lawn. 

If your lawn remains wet for long periods then it may be necessary to take additional corrective action. One way is to add a thin layer of top soil or garden specific sharp sand to the affected areas of your lawn. This will help draw out the moisture in the soil helping it to recover more quickly. 

If your lawn regularly suffers from waterlogging then it may be worth taking a couple of easy preventative measures. If your lawn is uneven and has areas that commonly become waterlogged, why not try and level them out. This will stop water from collecting in a single area of the lawn. 

You could also try and overseed your lawn during the spring/summer. Overseeding is a process where you lay additional grass seed to create a thicker lawn. Not only does this not only help prevent moss from growing and create a thicker, healthier looking lawn, but it also creates a more complex grass root network enabling it to absorb more water.

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