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We moved into a new house in January this year. We are in dispute with the builder about the quality of the 'topsoil' but have managed to establish a basic lawn from seed. The soil is little more than 'dirt' with no apparent goodness or nutrients to support plant life. The germination of the grass seed and subsequent modest growth of the grass seems due entirely to daily watering - when we were away for a few days and with no rain the grass started to turn yellow. The position is further complicated by a large tree in a neighbour's garden (with a TPO) that deposits liberal amounts of pine needles, seeds and cones on our infant lawn. I mow the grass frequently, probably too frequently, to suck up the debris from the tree in the belief that the debris would otherwise rot and increase the acidity of the soil. Whilst I would like to leave the grass cuttings on the ground as a mulch to increase the fertility of the soil I cannot do so without also leaving the chopped up tree debris.

My Question - What can I do to (i) increase the soil fertility, (ii) promote root growth of the new lawn and (iii) establish a lush healthy lawn in the shadow of  a large pine tree and with poor quality soil?

Thoughts and advice would be welcome.


  • From experience, not a lot enjoys growing in the shade of a large conifer - I've only ever managed to get camellia to thrive there myself.
    As far as I am aware (and I am happy to stand corrected!), you can always trim the branches of a plant (including a tree) that comes over onto your patch.
    If it has a TPO, that might mean you need to do so carefully and with prior discussion with the council or neighbour, or both, but it should still be allowed, particularly if the tree is very close to the boundary and is massively overhanging your garden.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,081
    Hi Chris - 'shadow of a large pine tree and with poor quality soil'. Not the ideal conditions for grass unfortunately. However, I think you can improve things a bit. This year has been particularly difficult for grass, so well done getting one established by seed. 
    If there's no possibility of the pine being removed, you might find it better to collect the clippings when you cut, and brush off anything left behind. You can add fertility to the grass by feeding too, although with a new lawn, you don't want to overfeed and create a lot of soft growth too late in the year. That might be best left until next year now, to let the roots establish properly. 
    Also , when you cut, don't cut too short. Never take more than about a third of the height off - especially in long dry spells. That will help. Little and often is best.
    The best thing you can do though, is to raise the height of the lawn a bit by adding topsoil and reseeding. I appreciate that might not be easy, but it would give a better base for the grass. You can also use a seed specifically for shade, which may help. This is a good time to do it if you're in a reasonably warm area of the country. If not, leave it until spring, when growth is getting going again.
    If you get a lot of debris from the pine through autumn and winter, just brush it off and collect it. The grass will improve a bit anyway, once there's regular rain for it. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    You may be trying to grow a lawn where no lawn would want to be ....
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