Lawn Care – Water logging and excess surface water


Water logging can be pretty destructive, In some situations, floods are deadly. Floods destroy paper records and wood and fabric furniture, homes and businesses are devastated, people die; even expensive wine collections are rendered worthless as the labels are soaked off them like in this case after Hurricane Sandy, but enough about the stuff that appears on the news.

This is a blog about landscaping stuff, so while there are really serious issues about flooding we will address the battles we know about!When your lawn gets too much water it is called water logging.

Water logging in lawns is a problem which tends to show up in wet winters more than any other time of year, so this year it is a real issue.

A few puddles may not seem like too much of a problem in itself, but it can lead to other problems, such as compaction of soil. And if the water lies around for a long time, the grass can actually drown because the water prevents air getting to the roots, and then moss will take over, because like all fungus varieties, it really likes damp conditions. A wet lawn also provides perfect growing conditions for algae, lichen toadstools and some other poisonous fungi. These can be hazardous to children or animals and should be considered in any relevant risk assessment. So, all round, it’s best to deal with water logging quickly and efficiently.

Water logging often happens on clay soils, because the soil gets very compacted very easily, especially if it’s wet. It can also happen if the soil was not properly prepared before the lawn was laid or seeded. There are landscaping solutions to affect the soil make up but let us deal witth the water first..

How to Fix Water logging in a Lawn

If your lawn suffers from water logging, then spiking, pricking and slitting the lawn can help. It amounts to the same thing, driving a tool into the surface of the lawn to help the water dissipate away more effectively.

  • Pricking or slitting consists of making narrow, shallow holes to help the water drain away.
  • Spiking deep holes is better, as the water drains away beyond the roots of the grass, and doesn’t risk drowning the lawn turf.
Either hollow tines or a regular fork.. Note: the picture should have the operator in Safety Boots!!

You can either use a garden fork or a hollow tine aerator, these machines remove the soil from the holes. Afterwardsfill the holes with a free-draining top dressing, such as sharp sand, or a specific lawn dressing.

It’s best to spike every autumn as part of your regular maintenance regime, it does not take too long and will be less of a cost than having to do this as an emergency measure when your lawn is already waterlogged.

Moving on…

Overall, the best thing you can do is keep your lawn healthy and growing, and particularly encourage good strong root systems as this will make the lawn more resistant to both drought and flooding. Aerating along with removing surface moss or weed growth can only benefit a healthy lawn.

If you want chemical help, feed your lawn regularly in spring and autumn with the correct fertiliser mixes for the season. Apply moss killer regularly to discourage moss from growing, especially in winter when the grass is less active, and a selective herbicide to remove unsightly weeds. See our pages of advice linked.

As a last resort, as usual, the best thing to do is abandon your water logged lawn, dig it up and start all over again. Put down at least an 8cm deep bed of sand, topped with a layer of topsoil mixed with compost, manure or other organic matter, and then on top lay some good quality turf.

Give me a call if you want a more specific diagnosis of a problem or to discuss any other aspect of this blog