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Repairing a badly maintained lawn

We've just moved into a 2 year old house. The lawn is in a pretty bad shape with numerous weeds and a pest problem.

Most of the weeds have been pulled up but what can we do about the leatherjackets / chafer problem? Should we now start re-seeding or would it be better to start again with rolls of turf?

The drainage is not that good in the top right of the garden, and that area gets no direct sunlight. Should we look at not growing grass in that area and put in a border or slabs in that corner?

Out the front are two small patches of lawn about 5ft by 10ft each. These are weed free but have pest problem. When we moved in a few weeks ago both had a reasonable covering of grass, now one of them is totally bare.


  • Similar to my lawn at the bungalow that I’ve moved to this month, though I have mostly moss on mine due to being north facing with poor drainage. So I’m hoping someone has a suggestion or two for us! 
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 12,365
    Welcome to the forum both of you. You don't say whereabouts in the country you are, but I would suggest it has been far too wet to do anything at the moment and it's not warm enough either. I would wait until the ground has dried (which may not be until April or so, depending on how much rain we get) and it has got a bit warmer.

    Then you can reassess the problem, decide whether you want to use weedkiller and bug killer or not and take it from there.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • That looks like drainage and light issues, and from experience I suggest anything you do will fail to really make a good lawn. 

    It's worth considering other things such as gravel, stone, pots,  or arti lawn.
  • Thanks for the prompt replies.

    Here is a picture of what it looked like exactly a year ago (when the house was put on the market; it's the estate agent's picture)

    When we visited it in the summer it was similar to that but had not been cut. Returning back in October it had about a dozen weeds. When we moved in in December it had ten times that amount.

    This is in North Somerset on a development that has had it's fair share of complaints about the poor quality of drainage and lawn pests.

    I agree that decreasing the grass area would be better and it definitely needs somekind of a makeover to stop it looking like a prison courtyard. It also needs another row of slabs outside the kitchen doors. Currently it is just two slabs wide so if you open the kitchen french door whilst carrying something you have to step on the turf to get around the opened door. If that is done then I don't think it would look too good with a slab strip on the right hand side and upto the top corner. That would need something different like a flower bed border?
  • It's so depressing the stuff they build and all they do for that token garden, is turf over awful soil regardless of conditions...redesign it with plants for shade and make a lovely large patio and enjoy the space. Take glasgowdan's advice he knows what he's talking about. 
    To Plant a Garden is to Believe in Tomorrow
  • As someone who's owned multiple new build houses, lawns are very difficult due abysmal drainage. Add in that shade and personally the fight would be too much for me. 

    A courtyard garden would look great given the high walls:

    If you are dead set on a lawn. That needs ripping out. Dig down, improve drainage, buy multiple tonnes of new topsoil and then re-turf. Then you'll have the same problems that everyone else has with a shady lawn - so it's a big expense for not much gain.
  • As others have said, drainage is key and I doubt the builders bore that in mind when the gardens went in.
    Light is also vital - you can get grass seed varieties that do better in shadier areas than most, but none of them will appreciate sitting in the wet.
    As for chafer and leather jackets - if they end up being an issue in the future once you have re landscaped your garden, I’ve found parasitising nematodes very effective as ecological pest control. 
    Good luck - re creating your garden as a space that is special to you is a long term thing, that takes patience and time...try and enjoy it 😊
  • Hi, I hope everyone is well.

    We are now revisiting the garden, after having left it for a few months. It's pretty much bare now with the weeds taken up and the grass mostly disappeared.

    The plan now is for us to lay an artifical grass, with the work done ourselves to save costs. The courtyard idea looked really nice but we're having to make savings so the plan is a bit more basic for now.

    * The existing gold riven slabs are staying next to the house
    * The centre lawn will be 7m x 7.5m of artificial grass
    * Grey compost decking on our garage (sun) side
    * 1m wide border of blue slate along next door's garage and the back wall
    * Potted shrubs on next door's garage border, and 3 raised railway sleeper type planters on the back wall with something like two bamboo plants in each of the far corners

    Does this sound OK?
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 30,003
    edited June 2020
    Sorry but it looks sterile, lifeless and boring with no seasonal changes of interest.   Do you really not like plants?   If so, I suggest you just pave the whole area.  It will cost about the same and not need maintenance afterwards or be a recycling nightmare.

    Artificial grass still collects dust, debris, fallen leaves and needs to be swept and even vacuum cleaned to keep it looking clean.  It's also really difficult to get the base correct as it needs careful preparation to make sure it's absolutely level and also allows for drainage or you'll spend all winter with a flood.

    For shrubs to be happy in pots they have to be big enough to provide a good root run and stop them freezing in winter or baking in summer, filled with the correct kind of growing medium, watered regularly and fed each spring with top ups during the growing season.  Even bamboo needs the right depth and type of soil or compost and watering and feeding.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • HerbsNChilliesHerbsNChillies Posts: 7
    edited June 2020
    Thanks for the feedback and advice Obelixx.

    I love plants. I am just not horticulturally minded. That's why I am here :)


    Please note that as this is problem solving section I have posted a new topic in the garden design section:

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