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Clay soil causing boggy lawn



  • RubytooRubytoo Posts: 1,486
    Just to say, as you mentioned sand Dan.
    Use Fairygirls suggestion of grit rather than sand, as sand can make clay worse.
    Can't explain the science bit, but think it has to do with particles being too fine.

    Do you get on with neighbours to the right ?
    They seem to have a close cut lawn? Ask what they have used or done.
  • Fairygirl said:
    I think if it's holding water all the time Dan, you need to address the soil itself rather than just put drains in, although, of course, they would help in very heavy rain.
    If you can create a medium that's lighter and freer draining, the water will pass through more easily.
    If it's not suitable to lift everything and completely redo the soil [quite a big task] the best way is to spike the area really deeply and often, brush coarse grit down the holes, and have a programme of topdressing in spring, and at other times if possible, so that you constantly improve the overall texture of the ground.  :)
    I would be happy in the spring to fork up the current lawn, then mix in grit sand if that would improve the soil? Would it then be okay to lay maybe some turf over that rather than using seed?
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,358
    It would depend on what you find when you dig it up Dan, but most soils can be improved with the addition of grit or coarse sand. Be careful which sand you get, if you buy it. Builder's sand is the wrong stuff - it's the stuff used for making mortar, so it holds water and makes a paste with soil, rather than letting water filter through. 
    You can add some compost and grit, or even pea gravel, with the soil, and dig and mix it all thoroughly to make a better medium.
    To prep for turf, rake it, removing any bigger stones, and level it. Let it settle a bit to make sure you have no dips and bumps, which you can then sort out. You then need to firm it down by doing 'the foot shuffle' back and forth, lightly rake again, and it's ready for turf. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 8,247
    My first thoughts about this were also 'Do away with the lawn altogether'. MP's garden is a beautiful example of how a small garden can be made to look bigger and more interesting with some imagination, good landscaping and careful planting.

    If, however, you really want to keep the grass I would follow some of the advice already given re improving drainage. Grit and shingle (per Fairy's suggestion above) is the way to go. Sand doesn't work for me.
    If your soil is heavy clay you will probably always have a rather wet and muddy lawn in winter (I know - I have one!!) and advice about keeping off it as much as possible between October and March is sound. You may, therefore, find it useful to put in a path to the shed and any other parts of the garden you need to access regularly through the winter. You could set paving slabs stepping-stone fashion in the grass.

    Trees and shrubs take up water - so making larger borders and doing some shrub planting may help as well.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Hi 
    I'm really interested in reading all your comments. I am in the same situation with a new build I moved into in August. The NHBC regs state you should have 10cm of topsoil, if the developers didnt put that down for you it might be worth going back to the developers and asking why there is no topsoil. I dont know if you are still in the time frame to complain to the NHBC if they dont rectify it? It might be worth a try. I didnt find this out until later as well. 

    I have just squelched up the lawn this morning in despair! I'm on heavy clay in Sussex. I had the garden planned out and was all set to get to work to put my plants in so started taking up the turf the builders have laid. Its solid clay, now where I have taken up the the turf to put some plants in and the water is pooling on it. A lot of it is only fit for a bog garden. 

    The site rep tried to fob me off saying its top soil but the quality might not be best and it depends how you grade it, but it is top soil and no one else on the estate had any problems! The gardener who put the lawn down said he's been telling them its poor since the site started and he has had to do remedial works on a lot of gardens. He said they rotavated the top of the clay and put the turf on top. The grass is now failing in some places and the gardener says my garden is the worse he has seen on the site so far.  

    I have just got them to agree to put in some top soil where the beds are, but I am now thinking they need to do the other half of the garden too and take up the lawn and do it all properly. Where the lawn is they were going to put some sharp sand on but I dont think this will be enough. In addition the estate slopes down and I am at the bottom with 2 run offs into my small garden surrounded by walls and buildings. I think if I dont go through the upheaval now I will regret it later. 

    From the regulations;
    9.2 - S6 Garden areas shall be adequately prepared for cultivation Construction rubbish and debris should be removed from garden and other areas around the home. The ground around the home can be compacted by machinery and storage of materials during construction as well as when topsoil is being replaced and this can affect the structure of the soil and its draining capability. Where this occurs within 3m of the home appropriate action should be taken to suitably restore the drainage characteristics of the soil. Any ground disturbed during construction should be re-graded to conform to the general shape of the adjacent ground. Subsoil should not be placed over topsoil and any topsoil disturbed should be reinstated. Garden areas should be provided with topsoil to a thickness of not less than 100mm. The topsoil should not contain contaminants which are likely to present a hazard to users of the garden area.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,358
    I can sympathise Barbara, as heavy clay is very difficult to work with until you get the hang of it. The amount of rain we get here means that a gardener very quickly learns how to manage it!
    Unfortunately, it doesn't matter how good the topsoil is, if what's under it isn't right. Rubble, sand, panned clay, compacted ground [the norm after building work ] high water table, concrete,  etc etc.  :/
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • My plan is, strip the lawn off and remove around two inches of the clay soil. Lay down a layer of grit sand and level it. Then put a layer of turf topsoil over that and level an flatten with my feet. Then lay turf on top of this. Would that be a good approach?
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,358
    No - mix them together Dan - the grit and topsoil. That way, you get a free draining medium, rather than a layer of both. If the soil below the bit you remove is solid, break it up a bit too, and mix some grit into it as well if possible, then let it settle before adding the soil mix.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Kitty 2Kitty 2 Posts: 5,150
    Not a new build, but we're on clay. I did the deep dig, gritted, topsoil, shuffle and seed thing with the last lawn I made... and it's still quite soggy overwinter.
    Have come to accept that I can't change my climate and stay off it from Nov to spring. 

    We put in a path around the perimeter of the lawn that gives us access to the shed, growhouse etc. Have a small garden with a similar layout to yours dan, even down to the swing bench 😄. I recommend you put a brick (or something) under each leg if you can, just to lift it's feet out of the wet overwinter. Ours sits on the patio, fiddly things to mow around/under on grass.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,358
    Mine is too Kitty, despite the very sharp drainage I created for the new lawn. I stay off it as much as possible, but it's very mossy just now, and the ridiculously dry weather we had here in summer didn't help. We're not used to periods of more than a few days without rain in summer :D
    I was thinking about that too, re the swing seat. If you need access to the shed over winter, you could have a little path along the right hand side. The back legs of the seat could then rest on that, and you could add a couple of little timber blocks to the bottom of the front legs, which would keep them from being in contact with the wet ground. 
    It would depend on whether you intend doing anything different with the fence on that side - an arbour or similar for round the seat, for example.
    If you like to move the seat around, that changes everything of course  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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