Dealing With Lawn Problems
Almost every lawn shows problems from time to time, often after a long period of drought or a wet winter when moss takes hold. Most can be remedied, and there are useful quick fixes for uneven edges and bare patches.
Lumps and bumps often become noticeable in spring after a winter of little attention, or in summer when anthills cause bare patches in the grass. Bumps make mowing the lawn difficult because they tend to be scalped by the mower. You can deal with them by raising the height of cut, but the better solution is to make a quick repair.
Very small bumps can be leveled by removing cores of soil with a hollow tine aerator. To repair larger bumps, you need to cut a cross over the lump using a half-moon edger, then peel back the four corners of turf. Remove some of the soil, smooth the soil surface, then fold back the turf into place carefully.
Like lumps, hollows in the ground look ugly and are likely to contain longer grass that the mower cannot reach. Small depressions can be repaired gradually by filling them with a sandy top dressing, adding 1/2 inch (1 cm) at a time.
Edges may crumble or break because of wear and tear and also as a result of mowing. To repair these, carefully cut out a rectangle of turf including the broken edge. Cut precisely, with sharp vertical edges and right-angled corners. Turn the piece of turf around so that the good edge is on the outside. Keep the broken part within the lawn, fill it with topsoil, and then resow it with some grass seed. The combination of new seed and regular mowing will encourage the lawn to spread and fill the patch.
Damaged patches within a lawn are equally easy to repair. Remove a rectangular piece of turf by cutting around the damage with a half-moon edger—use a straight-edged piece of wood as a cutting guide. Put the blade of a spade under the turf, keeping it parallel with the surface and digging down to as shallow a depth as possible. Remove the damaged piece, rake over the exposed soil, then cut an identically shaped piece of turf, and plug the gap. Alternatively, prepare the soil, resow with seeds, and cover it with netting to protect it from birds. Avoid walking on resown patches until they are established.
Wet Lawn Damage
Rain can cause problems on compacted or poorly drained lawns. Waterlogging starves roots of oxygen, and moss and damp-loving weeds will prosper in these conditions. Leaves and other debris make lawn turf slippery underfoot, causing sliding and damage to the grass.
If your lawn suffers in wet weather or needs protection from heavy traffic, try laying stepping stones through it to reduce wear on the grass. Space slabs, stones, or circles of wood on the grass, making sure they are evenly spaced and checking the distance between them to make sure they are a comfortable step apart. When happy with the pattern, cut around them with a half-moon tool and remove the turf beneath
Remove soil to the depth of the stepping stone, along with an extra 2 inches (5 cm). Level the base and add a 2-inch (5 cm) layer of compacted sand. Place the stepping stones on top, keeping them level with the lawn so you can mow across them.