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lawn maintenance, under poor conditions

Hi image

im after some advice with what to do with a patch of the garden.

i have a square garden surrounded with 6ft high fencing (more or less), and about 15% or so of the back end of the grass gets pretty much no sun at all, the soil is highly acidic (ph 5 when tested), the soil type is heavy clay and consequently there is moss there. i did my best to reduce that, upon moving into the house the moss and weed problem was horrific, hardly any of the lawn was actually grass! but the problem still remains in that last patch somewhat. i will attach a picture when i get home later if i can.

im wondering if there are any ideas on what i could do with the area, or whether i could keep the grass and just work harder to make it better. the whole lawn is surrounded by about a foot width of gravel border. i have a cammelia in the left corner (adolphe audusson) which gets sun from mid afternoon, and a sorbus tree in the other corner (planed slightly inwards of the corner) which due to its height gets a bit of sun all day. the cammelia has grown nearly double its size since autumn, and the sorbus has grown also but is quite slow. it has not flowered/fruited yet either (last year).

i mowed the lawn for the first time this year at the weekend, and plan to rake it then pitch fork (aerate?) it tonight. is it then advisable to use a combined lawn feed and moss killer?

any other help would definitely be appreciated! thanks.



  • hmm... its not too inspiring that there have been so far no replies to this. We have a similar problem..

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,414

    Lawns need some sun to stay healthy as do we all, be it early morning or late afternoon that would be enough to prosper.
    It also depends on what type of lawn seed was sown a soft grass will suffer more in shade than a tough all purpose grass.
    Time to weigh up the reason the grass is there, could there be another feature of shade loving plants that would be better or is some hard standing with pots a better bet.
    If you wish to try a bit longer then use a feed and weed preferably when it is raining or going to rain if not wet it in with a hose and that means really wet it. In six weeks do the same again. Leave the lawn to settle cutting it slightly long, blades up a bit.
    Autumn rake it aerate it and then after aerating dress with a mix of compost and sand sweeping it into the aerating holes with a stiff brush then put down an Autumn feed and weed this is slow release then leave until spring.
    It may work and lawns can be brought back to health with some work although I always say if something is not working then change it.


  • djjjukdjjjuk Posts: 211


    thanks for the reply. ive got some pics of the garden here, if anyone wants to take a look and suggest, please feel free or give me a better diagnosis of the condition of the grass? the picture makes it look drier than i thought it was.

    the red line is where the worst moss is, and gets no sun pretty much. part of the left corner, where the commelia is, gets sun in the afternoon and the evening. also, that gravel border goes right around the back too.

  • imageHi, My north facing lawn gets sun on half of it,but the bit near the house is in shade, there's more moss than grass there.Quite a high clay content and neutral ph.Over the years i've used moss killer and re-seeded when the moss has died,treated it twice a year with lawn feed to encourage the grass...but gradually the moss does take over again i'm afraid...I would say that if you got the moss killed off,kept the soil aerated by spiking well,brushing some garden sand into the holes and then re-seeding,feeding twice yearly,and lots of aerating,you may have some success.I find that having the time to devote to this never-ending task is the main problem !..

    Good Luck.


  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,414

    Djjjuk, Having looked I am afraid looking at all that fence would drive me mad.
    Why not cut the lawn back, make a border and then plant a couple of climbers plus some shade loving bushes to hide at least the back fence.
    My Daughter had the same problem and we tackled it planting up a border which in one year hid the fence, now you do not see any of the fences and the garden is a picture.
    There are many plants shrubs and small trees that will prosper in shade remembering they will have their heads in the sun in all probability.
    It needs a serious revamp in my book.


  • I like your ideas Frank...makes sense to change my bit of poor lawn for something that will give me pleasure and not so much hard work ! Thanks for the suggestions.

    The problem I have with my other south facing lawn are the bare patches produced by my dog, his urine burns the grass...i've re-seeded many times but to no avail. I've heard that there are some stones available to buy ,to put into the dogs water bowl to neutralise the urine..does anybody know if they work ? Any other suggestions would be appreciated too. Cheers.

  • djjjukdjjjuk Posts: 211

    Hi Frank,

    thanks for the suggestion. and yes, i hate the fence too. the intention definitely is to hide it and surround the garden with much more nice looking things. i am literally starting from scratch, and there are many areas of the garden to do so its where to start.

    the border is already at the back, its gravel (the same one that goes up the sides in the picture.

    what plants would you suggest? the soil is very acidic, heavy clay. i quite like cupressus/goldcrest, something like this: theres no danger on height particularly, as there is a house behind that back fence anyway.

  • djjjukdjjjuk Posts: 211

    by the way. i did think about re-positioning the cammelia, and putting a compost bin in that left hand corner.

  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,414

    Djjjuk, Why would you want a compost heap in line of sight? my double wooden bins self made are out of sight up against next doors garage wall on a part of my bungalow with no windows. Camellia once established do not like moving, with a corner build up behind it with a couple of shrubs and some low planting under it it would become a feature.
    Right heavy clay then dig in the gravel paper compost stuff you empty out of old pots sand old woolens and manure if you can get any. That will mean some hard work although whoever said gardening was easy, do a section at a time and plant it up then do the next section and so on. My priority would be hiding that fence and then work back from that along the sides, all else would stop until this was accomplished.
    Preparing the bed will take time, once you have part of it done then visit a Garden centre and look at what they have, I always wander around the sale section first, read the labels and they will tell you what likes shade, part sun. full sun. and usually what kind of soil. You will usually see them in flower too so will know if you like them. Acid soil can be made better with some lime dug in you can get that from a G/C.
    A couple of Golden Cypress would look good and draw the eye away from the fence, they would need trimming lightly to keep the slim shape and topping when they reach the height you need, too high could upset neighbours. My choice of plants may not be what you like so wandering around Nurseries and G/C's is the best bet.
    Sitting in the garden on a sunny day with a pencil and paper plus a long drink is a good way to plan things. Watch where the sun actually touches, roughly where the most sun is and make notes.


  • djjjukdjjjuk Posts: 211

    Frank, re: the compost heap: there is actually nowhere else to put one. what you see in that pic is pretty much what we have. i could probably get a rubber dalek one and stick it up the side of the house, that would be on top of a drain cover though with paving slabs around.

    thanks for the advice image

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