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Severe moss and waterlogged lawn

Hi, I'm new to this forum and to new gardening.
I am looking for help/advise one how to deal with a large lawn full of moss which is also also severely waterlogged in winter and very dry in summer. 
We moved in august to a bungalow with just under 2 acres mostly laid to lawn on clay soil. In the summer it is marbled with huge crevasses about 10-15cm deep and about the same wide, but has got very waterlogged even before the heavy rain set in. The moss is also very deep and covers about 90% of the lawn which I think is contributing to the water retention. 
Any suggestions on what can I do to get rid of the moss and help with the water management of the soil would be really gratefully received.


  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,141
    Welcome to the forum @rosieOp53OmP-
    It sounds as if you have heavy clay soil that wasn't improved before the lawn was laid, so the clay soil shrinks and cracks and sets like concrete when it dries out, and holds onto water and gets boggy when it's wet. Spiking deeply and brushing gritty sharp sand into the holes might help a bit, but you probably don't want to be doing the whole two acres by hand. You could maybe hire a machine (the time to do it would be spring, when it's not a bog but hasn't dried out yet). The moss is a symptom of the conditions, not a cause. It likes the wet poorly drained ground. You can treat it with mosskiller in spring and rake it out, but it'll most likely come back next winter because it's better suited to the conditions than grass. I'm sure someone who has more experience with clay soil will be along soon with their advice.

  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,228
    Hello Rosie, I know what you mean because I have the same situation and I'm afraid I haven't solved it. First, where is the water coming from? If there is a high water table, underground springs surfacing or you are at the bottom of a slope, you will have to think creatively about how you adapt, so this is the first thing to work out.
    If you do not have one of the problems above, then a hollow tine aerator and lots of grit and top dressing will gradually improve your grass. I think feeding is important, too, because weak grass cannot compete with moss. You need to water in dry spells, too.
    If, like me, you do have issues with too much water, you will not see so much improvement. Spiking and putting in grit, feeding, and watering in summer will help, but you won't be able to stop the waterlogging in winter and the best thing is to keep off the grass as much as possible at these times. If you plant trees and shrubs or make borders for plants you can raise them slightly, mounding the soil, to keep the roots above the worst of the wet, and choose tough, tolerant plants while you learn what can and cannot cope.
    Good luck!
  • RubytooRubytoo On the sofa, Southerly aspect.Posts: 1,287
    Although you have made a great start with the information, if you could give a little bit more background there might be other options. Although the advice that Jennyj and Posy have given already is great stuff.

    We are also on clay, though a lot smaller than your plot, and on this experimenting with a moss lawn in some areas. It is quite nice. Though you probably do not want a moss garden on all of it :D

    Is your property an old one or is it new?
    This could have an impact on how you treat it if heavy machinery has compacted the ground or good topsoil has been removed.
    Also you may have an option of putting in some form of land drainage if you plan to stay long term. With two acres you would seem to have room for a pond or wet area to drain into.

    Anymore info you can give on the history and use of the garden could help. And the lay of the land.

    Good luck in your new home and garden.
  • Thank you everyone!

    We live at the top of a flattish hill on the Suffolk, Cambridgeshire border so are quite exposed. The house is about 30 years old so machinery compaction could be a factor and we do have a pond which is slowly filling having been empty when we moved in in the summer. 

    Jenny your suggestion of getting rid of the moss in spring will be our first move and then digging in some soil improvers to the areas we want to keep as lawn with land drainage like you suggested Ruby and look for plants suited to the conditions or follow you with a moss lawn at least it will be soft for the kids to fall on :wink:   

    Thanks for the tip about mounding the boarders Posy I wouldn't have thought of that. 

    Thought about chatting to the local farmer and see if he/she could plough and drill sand in, we can then dig in some drainage to the pond making areas for growing veg, a lawn, kids area and the rest mother nature can guild me in what works and what doesn't.   

  • SkandiSkandi Northern DenmarkPosts: 1,454
    On two acres I would look at getting it mole ploughed. any of your local farmers can probably do it, the issue would be tire marks left afterwards, but the locals will be able to say if that will happen on your particular soil.
    If you are planning on staying for a long time I would seriously consider getting field drain installed again the locals will be able to say how well it works with your soil types.
  • Have had problems for many years with a water logged lawn, now on my own I have left it to turn to moss which is now mostly all it is now. Come drier weather I will be filling it with fruit trees and bushes and hope it helps to soak up some of the water. This is my first time posting and have found the quotes very beneficial 
  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 3,228
    Hi, Mary. Before you buy, check which trees and shrubs will tolerate winter wet and research planting methods to give them the best chance.
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