Restoration & Repair

Badly Damaged Lawns

Occasionally Lawns become too old, neglected or damaged to coax back into good condition with even the best maintenance practices and treatment products. Unfortunately, this category of lawn has grown since the drought and heatwave of 2018.

Once the population of grass plants has fallen below a viable density, the only way to re-establish the affected area as lawn is to add new grass. This can be done either with seed or turf.

We do not offer a turfing service.

We have a limited ability to do full (back to bare seedbed) restorations with seed.
This is labour intensive and there are only a few weeks each year when it can be done with confidence.

Lawn restoration with seed can be taken to mean anything, from the description below to a simple `rake off the dead stuff and put some seed down`. If getting quotes for this work, be sure to enquire what exactly will be done!

Best Process / our method: Mechanical removal of all spent and unwanted organic matter from the surface area / creation of viable seed bed / Double pass lawn aeration / High dose dressing of organic soil conditioner / Application of seed with a professional grade `drop spreader` / Gentle raking in of the seed into the seed bed / Rolling in / Initial watering.

The issues with full lawn restorations done with seed are as follows:

Timing: There is only a very short calendar window likely to provide a good result with high germination rates and rapid establishment. We only do this work from very late Summer to Early Autumn. September and very early October is the only time frame likely to provide the required conditions for assured success. Spring in theory should provide a window that could be used, but in East Anglia the likelihood of cold and dry weather (with low winter soil temperatures persisting) make this a potentially expensive gamble.

Watering: Successful establishment of a good quality lawn from seed requires a lot of irrigation. Hoping for rain is not a safe strategy. It should not be contemplated unless you have the means and willingness to get water to all the seeded area in a generous quantity at least twice a day for up to six weeks, depending on the weather.

Turf is not without aftercare and ongoing watering requirements, but you do get an instant result and the watering needs are less than those of seed establishment, however, seed tends to produce a better lawn in the long run. And if using seed there is more choice of grass types. If you are going to reinstate a lawn with Turf, get several quotes and be sure to discuss grass type and crucially, what level of preparation is included. There is little point re turfing unless the environment underneath will support the grass long term.

Due to the short calendar time when large scale restorations can be done with seed, as well as the labour-intensive nature of the work we are extremely limited in the number of jobs we can take on. We do not do `put some seed down and hope` type jobs. If you are interested in a thorough process done at the right time of year (late summer/early autumn) it is always best to book extremely early. A realistic budget will be £10 – 12 per SqM and this service is only ever available in gardens where adequate irrigation can be guaranteed by the customer. We ask for 50% of invoice value as a booking confirmation, the balance on the day the job is completed.
Other repair options

Other repair options

Depending on the extent of the problems with your lawn area – and the reasons for them, you have several options.

None of them are without either cost or effort. We do not have all the answers, but below we have outlined a few common situations which we hope will give you some useful perspective on your own lawn’s issues and your choices.

Patch Repairs

Most lawns in East Anglia that are starting 2019 with damage left over from last year’s extreme Summer weather need little more than Patch repairs

In general seeding smallish areas of damage is relatively easy and inexpensive as a DIY project. The owner of the lawn pictured below will be able to rake out the dead / drought damaged area of his lawn until the earth is nicely exposed. Seed can be mixed with light topsoil and added, and a repair effected. There are many online guides as to how to do this and it will not take more than a couple of hours.

repair options

If it is so easy why do Grasshopper Lawncare not do it? Because pricing and completing jobs like this on a large scale is extremely difficult and our groundsmen are busy doing work that requires them to use their training and licenses to better effect. Any general gardener can easily do this type of job if the lawn owner is unable or unwilling to. Also, we have had one unhappy experience too many when a client has ignored our advice about watering and aftercare and decided he/she does not want to settle our invoice.

A poor lawn environment

If you have a small lawn as shown on the left with poor soil/ bad drainage and a young family or pets inflicting boisterous wear and tear you may wish to consider an artificial lawn. We do not like these very much, but they do have a place in certain situations, where real grass cannot survive. We do not install artificial grass, but if you decide this is a good option you will find a huge range people who do.

The picture on the right shows an area where the grass population died during the summer heatwave of 2018. Sandwiched between all that heat radiating tarmac & masonry, without shade and almost certainly growing on a thin layer of poor-quality soil it did not stand a chance. Now the coarse grasses and weeds are invading. This is a tough situation for the owner, doing nothing will create an eyesore, but spending money on trying to grow grass in such a location is risky. It is going to take some work to clear the decks for new seed, or some money to have it turfed. Perhaps a hardy drought resistant grass capable of surviving that location can be found? Not an easy decision sadly and we expect many such areas may be left to continue filling up with weeds.

poor lawn1 poor lawn2

Large scale dead or damaged areas.

On the left is a piece of ground that was once lawn. It has been neglected over several years, the final straw was the 2018 drought. It no longer contains a dense enough population of lawn grasses to be improved with treatment and maintenance. It is time to start again with a rotavator, Turf Cutter or even the blade of a digger! On the right is an example of how deep and embedded thatch can become on such areas. Raking that away by hand is not a realistic option.

damaged lawn1 damaged lawn2

The challenge and cost of repairing this type of problem is that the preparation work will be very extensive. The dead material needs removing from the surface, but there may be heavy build up of thatch below the surface as well. The quickest & least expensive way to restore these areas to lawn is with Turf. Most good Turf contractors will have a Turf cutting machine to remove all the unwanted parts of the old lawn before installing new turf. It must not be laid on top!

If you find yourself considering the Turf option: Do get several quotes, discuss what grass is going to be laid and its suitability for your garden and requirements. Ask about the level of preparation work, even if you think your soil is good. Will any bumps and hollows be smoothed out? Consider if you want to use this as an opportunity to install some pop-up irrigation for the new grass.

Do you like a challenge & want a good result without breaking the bank?

If you do not want to spend a significant sum on the Turfing of an old, neglected or failing lawn but you are fit and energetic there are DIY options available. You can hire all the equipment necessary to start all over again. In extreme, this might mean rotovating the area and putting considerable effort into creating a seedbed, removing stones and rubble and levelling the ground over several months before you even think about introducing seed. Again, there are a lot of online guides and videos available to help you if you take on this challenge. For those so inclined it is a great way to add value to your home and it will be a big source of pride and satisfaction when done.

Where we can help

killing off the old lawn / coarse grasses and weeds. If you decide to set out on a significant renovation and want a large area cleared of weeds and invasive coarse grasses – we can provide one or more herbicide applications during the process. Inevitably disturbing the soil will encourage further germination of weed seeds even after the existing population is sprayed off. To discuss this service please ring during office hours.

Seeding the ground after you have done the hard preparation work. We do have a very accurate seed `drop spreader` which is ideal for precise seeding of large areas. If you want a quote for this final part of a renovation project we will be happy to talk seed choice, timing and price.

My lawn is not that bad!

There are of course a lot of lawns which might respond well to treatment and maintenance but may still fall short of making a full recovery. Pictured below is a small lawn which suffered some drought damage during 2018.

Weeds have invaded, but the grass is also trying to make a comeback.

 bad lawn1

This is the type of situation where a sensible approach would be to embark on a regular treatment cycle to rid the area of weeds and encourage the grass to keep fighting. Our expectation would be that this on its own would provide a useful and visible improvement in the short term. To complete the lawns recovery in the late summer / early autumn, a simple over seeding process could be added to a routine scarification. There is every possibility we can send this lawn into the Autumn in great shape, with relatively little disruption or expense to the owner.

The reality is that a lot of 2019 lawn maintenance is going to approached in this way. Do what we can for improvement in the immediate timeframe, over Spring and Early Summer, see how successful we are (it WILL vary and can be unpredictable) then decide how much new grass needs to be introduced later in the year. Either by ourselves as a maintenance over seeding job, or as a patch repair by other arrangement and possibly as a combination of the two. We cannot save all the damaged lawns, some are too far gone. But there are a huge number that can be gradually brought back to condition with approach described above.

If you want an honest opinion on a damaged / struggling lawn please use the appropriate contact form, please do include some photos and we will get back to you as quickly as we can.

To Summarise: What we do & do not do in terms of `lawn repair`

Turfing   x
Artificial Grass   x
Patch repairs   x
Complete renovations x* (Subject to timing/terms & availability)  
Maintenance Over Seeding x* (not to be confused with renovation seeding)