Clay soil and boggy lawn


We have moved house and I am now the proud owner of some very boggy lawn, our garden is clay soil so drainage is a problem, I have used tool to poke holes etc but it is still very boggy, I am going to seed soon but is there anything else I can do to improve drainage before I cut my losses and pave the lot please?image



  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,059

    I'd wait a bit. Everything is so wet you'd have nowhere to drain it to.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 10,197

    Keep poking holes, every 4 inches if poss and then brush in some sharp sand to aid drainage.   This will take time and effort but will slowly improve drainage.

    The other alternative is to rotavate the lot adding plenty of sharp grit and sand as well as some organic matter such as garden compost to the soil then let it settle, rake smooth, go over it with a roller or with your heels to remove air pockets, rake again and then sow new seed in early April when it's warm enough to germinate the seed and moist enough for it to grow.

    The very serious alternative is to dig trenches and lay drains then put back the soil and proceed as above.

    If you do give up and pave it, make sure you use permeable blocks and joins to allow run off in wet weatther or you'll end up with a more serious drainage problem in the rest of the garden.



    The Vendée, France
  • We have clay soil here and it is a bit of a nightmare. The ground is very spongy when you walk on it, but after having said that the grass grows well. Don't know what the answer is to our clay soil (landlords prob) but I still enjoy going out there, with my wellies on and have a good walk around. Have tried growing things but not with too much success, shrubs really and a perennial lavateria at the mo, have even put sum bluebells in. Trees grow well here too, especially holly.
  • Cheers for the answers guys


  • Roses like clayey soil and big climbers drink a lot, so a pergola with a climber would help. Trees are also thirsty so, for example, some (smaller) conifers might add structure and help with drainage.The weather has been so wet that it is difficult even to get on soil to work it, and it is a bit early yet anyway but the rest of the answer is improve, improve, improve through digging in compost. We dug a drainage pit and filled it with stones before topping up with soil, because we live on a hillside and water runs into our garden, though you might think this a bit extreme.  

  • We have the same trouble especially in our front garden.  It just never seems to drain and as one end is completely shaded by the next door house and our porch, it seems never to improve.  I am considering forgetting about the lawn and putting down a decorative slate chip path/area on which I can stand pots and containers. Not decided on which colour yet.

  • It's not going to happen overnight, but instead of a boggy lawn you could have some lovely fertile veg or flower beds with paths if needed for access. Take up the turf and lay it out of the way in a pile face down (it will turn into good soil) Then, dig in some gravel, make raised beds, add leaf mould and compost and plant up.



  • BILLYCBILLYC Posts: 50

    I had this problem with my front lawn for many years. Believe me none of the suggestions work as I have tried them all. This is how I cured my problem but be warned it takes a lot of hard work.

    Firstly my lawn is only 40 sq. mts. this method may not suit a large area.

    Higher yourself a 8 inch auger (a large petrol driven drill that drills 8 inch holes) Drill holes in the boggy area to a depth of about 18" & about 18" apart. Remove soil that has come out of holes. Fill holes with pepples (you can buy from a builders yard). Purchase good quality top soil & cover to a depth of about 2". Allow to settle say a week. Tread in with heels & rake till level. Then either turf (best method) or sow using a hardwearing rye grass seed. If done correctly I guarantee this method works.

    My son & I took 2 days to drill holes & remove soil & another 2 days to spread top soil & lay turf.

    I doubt whether you will try this but if you do be careful. Check no underground drains or water pipes.

    From a boggy moss ridden mud heap I now have a beautiful lawn as good as a bowling green.

    Good luck.


  • bigolobbigolob Posts: 127

    The bottom of my garden is similar to what you describe. Constantly wet throughout the winter (maybe even a small lake) and very wet through a wet spring and summer as last year.

    The answer is to dig a 2 foot deep trench and fill it with whatever rubbish you can find, eg. bricks, gravel, stones, etc. to form a sump.This can take 2-3 years before you notice any improvement in drainage - sorry but there is no fast solution.

    However, to make the area acceptable, grow the ornamental grasses which enjoy having their `feet` in water - Miscanthus Sinensis, the Chinese Ornamental Grass which comes in many very attractive forms. There is the Zebra Grass (Miscanthus Zebrinus) - 6 foot green leaves with interesting Zebra type bands along the leaves, Miscanthus Variagata, beautiful long green leaves with long yellow edges to the leaves - grows to 6 foot. Go to your local nursery and buy whatever 2-3 foot plants which enjoy wet conditions - there are many and they will help to soak up the water.

    All these plants are common and can be found without difficulty.


  • Billy C, fancy coming to do that to mine?image lol

  • Thanks bigolob, Will bear the Zebra grass in mind!

  • Try Turf Doctors we have the ansers in compacion.

  • bigolob, I love the look of these grasses and was tempted to buy from my local GC yesterday, but my concern is if they will take over like bamboo or be really difficult to move if I change my mind?

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,059

    growing things that like the situation as bigolob suggests sounds a better idea than growing something that doesn't like it.

  • I've been looking at thesr grasses at my local GG today and very tempted to buy. My concern is if the roots are like bamboo and would be difficult to move if I change my mind, which I often do!

  • Whoops, sorry didn't think had posted first time!

  • The end of my garden is very boggy, a mixture of clay soil and shade mean it very rarely dries out. We had our lawn raised and relaid in May. Most of it looks great but the wet areas have really thinned out and it looks like the grass does not root properly. I dont want muddy patches as we have two young boys and its not practical. I was thinking of putting down a wood chip at the end what do people think are there any design examples I can look at... ideas???

  • Doug7Doug7 Posts: 2

    Can someone recommend some good seed for clay soil the area I am going to seed is partially shaded and has a pine tree that litters spines and cones on it\\\\\\\\\\\/ 

  • pinkjudepinkjude Posts: 6

    we have clay soil but grow roses, fuschias, Japanese anenomes, begonia saxifrage, forsythia, buddlia, holly and many bulbs.  I think look at your neighbours gardens and see what thrives then try in yours as they will usually have the same soil.  We have dug in garden compost plus bought to improve the soil and mulch with bark chippings .  our lawn is boggy too but we let the weeds grow in it and don't dtrive for a bowling green effect as we like to attract wild life.  We dug a small pond out of one bit of lawn where it was really bad

  • clkclk Posts: 95

    pinkjude, does the pond overflow? I was thinking of doing the same. Thanks.

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