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How to help stop grass dying when waterlogged

It’s an extremely common problem; your grass looks great through summer but come winter, water doesn’t drain, your grass starts to thin (or dies completely) and just one step sees your foot caked in mud. Waterlogged grass is a nightmare for many homeowners, and sometimes it seems like there is no solution to stop grass dying.

So, what options are available to help shop grass dying when your garden gets waterlogged? Well, if you have a garden like Monty Don, which is prone to becoming a lake during the winter then your only option is likely to embrace the seasonal change and plan your garden around it. But, if you are one of the many homeowners who sees their garden become more of a claggy mud pit during winter, then there are actually quite a few options available to you if your garden has poor drainage.

Why is my grass waterlogged?

Firstly it is important to understand why your garden is waterlogged. Once you understand what causes your grass to retain water, you can begin to solve the problem and help stop your grass dying. A waterlogged lawn can be cause by a high water table or poor drainage. Plus, sometimes these two things can work together to exacerbate the problem or water retention in your lawn.

High water table

The water table is the level at which saturated earth beneath your garden meets unsaturated earth. The lower the level of your water table, the deeper you would need to dig to find water logged soil. If the water table level reaches the surface, then you will begin to see pools of water form and not drain from your lawn. The water table level will rise and fall seasonally, and heavy rain can raise the water table temporarily.

In times gone by, the local well would have told you the water table level for you area. The level of the water in the well would rise and fall seasonally as ground water increased or decreased. Nowadays, it’s more likely that you will see the effects of a high water table in your garden if you get puddles that never drain, or on a bigger scale in your local area in the form of localised flooding during bad weather.

If it is your water table that is causing your garden to flood then this is likely to be an issue that is shared by everyone within your local community. Sadly there are limited options available to you to solve this problem as it is likely to be related to the topography of your area.

Poor drainage

Poor drainage is extremely common in many gardens, especially if you have heavy clay soil. The fine particles in clay soil will prevent water from draining freely and quickly cause muddy soil in heavy rain. Some plants thrive in waterlogged soil, but many (like grass) struggle to survive.

Whilst a high water table will allow surface water to pool for often days at a time even when rain stops, poor drainage will only allow water to sit on the surface for a matter of hours. The ground might still seem very wet even after sitting water has drained, but this is more down to the absorbent soil rather than their being excess ground water. Think of it as a kitchen sponge – it’s still wet even after it has been wrung out, while excess water evaporates.

How do I stop grass dying?

There are two things you need to do to stop grass dying in your garden; improve drainage and prevent footfall from damaging the grass after heady rain. By fixing these two concerns, you will help your lawn keep going even during wettest of winters.

Improve drainage in your lawn and stop grass dying

Aerate your lawn by using a garden fork to create regular holes in your turn. Push the fork deep into the ground and jiggle it back and forth to increase the size of each hole. Repeat this process across the entire lawn.

A French drain is a specially constructed channel beneath your lawn that allows water to drain from the sodden ground and run off into a main drain or gravel soakaway. The channels of a French drain are lined with gravel and a special perforated land drainage pipe is then installed and also covered with gravel. Soil is placed over the top and then turf relaid. This is good for large spaces of poor draining soil.

Grass matting is low effort option to protect wet grass from footfall. The rubber matting gives structure to the ground surface and take footfall weight off the grass. Plus, once installed you can leave the grass matting in place and mow straight over it in summer as the grass grows through.

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