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Raising height of a lawn?

I have a small lawn that gets very boggy in winter, it's on heavy clay with only a thin layer of topsoil. Sadly there is no way of adding drainage.

I'm considering raising the height of the lawn which will allow me to have a thicker layer of topsoil/sand above the clay. My question is should I..

Strip off the turf, lay it upside down, add topsoil and then new turf?
Strip off the turf and remove (stack elsewhere), add topsoil and re-turf?
Or, could I simply add topsoil on top of the existing lawn, then re-turf?

Posts

  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,147
    It depends how much you want to raise it by. Are you putting an edging round it?
    If you remove turf and turn it, then add more soil etc, that's a fair old bit of extra height. Just adding soil wouldn't really work, unless you were adding a lot, so again, the height would be considerable. 
     
    I'd be inclined to remove the turf, dig over the remaining soil and add manure and pea gravel. Then some soil and turf. The former will help with drainage. You'd need to let it settle a bit before doing the turfing. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 1,256
    The lawn area is surrounded by borders, so I can always add more soil/compost to the borders to match the height of the lawn, but if the lawn is slightly higher than the borders that would be ok.
  • How small is the lawn? It's a lot of work that in all honesty probably won't achieve what you want. Ask yourself if you need a lawn?
    You could add stepping stones for border access but without drainage your garden will always be boggy.
    Mine is too.  In fact it's partially flooded from Nov through to early Feb..I've just learnt to live with it. I could add drainage but I don't want the mess that goes with it. It's the time of year I have a rest from gardening.
  • LoxleyLoxley NottinghamPosts: 4,976
    edited April 2022
    If you raise the height of the lawn relative to the borders, it will drain out to the borders. So ground which is higher than the level of the borders will be well drained. (Water will always follow gravity). You can crown the centre of the lawn to get extra height, but you'll probably need to edge the lawn somehow. 

    If the existing lawn is compacted it would be sensible to break it up a bit. If not you could probably get away with building up levels on top of existing. I'd probably mix sharp sand with topsoil to increase the levels (>50%). I don't think there's any benefit to adding manure or compost etc.
  • LeadFarmerLeadFarmer Posts: 1,256
    We do need the lawn for our dog, in winter he comes in with muddy feet from the lawn which gets churned up from him walking on it. The lawn is almost growing on the clay sub base, so I'm thinking adding a couple of inches of soil might help.
  • We do need the lawn for our dog, in winter he comes in with muddy feet from the lawn which gets churned up from him walking on it. The lawn is almost growing on the clay sub base, so I'm thinking adding a couple of inches of soil might help.
    No, a couple of inches won't make any difference. If it is only a small area, I'd convert it to hard standing. It'll still be wet in winter but hopefully less muddy and imho will be a more useful space. I replaced my small boggy lawns (which I inherited) with 20mm gravel. That was 5 years ago..this year I'll have to top up the gravelled areas as the existing gravel has sunk into the clay a bit but it'll only take about 10 bags. 
  • LoxleyLoxley NottinghamPosts: 4,976
    Agreed 2" isn't enough. 4" might start having an effect, 6" would be the minimum I'd be confident with. (I'm including the depth of the turf itself, which would be a couple of inches).

    I work as a landscape architect on various housing developments, and poorly drained rear gardens on clay is a common issue; our solution has been to add 150mm of pure sharp sand, with 300mm of topsoil over that and then the lawn. The sand layer connects to land drains or soakaways at the back of the retaining walls running through the site. On your site that would be overkill, and you don't have a land drain to connect to, but I am thinking raising the lawn levels with an extremely sandy topsoil (rather than a pure sand layer) would probably help.
  • KT53KT53 GloucestershirePosts: 7,553
    Unless it is being raised by a lot, minimum 6" as Loxley suggests, I can't see it really making much difference.
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