How do lawns get waterlogged?
You know what we mean by ‘waterlogged’; where the soil has so much water in it that the lawn squelches as you walk over it. Sometimes there can be so much water that it pools on the surface and looks like a temporary lake! Even regular amounts of rain can cause lawns to become waterlogged if drainage is poor, in order to fix the problem you will first have to investigate the cause.
- There is too much concrete/tarmac in the area and the drainage system is not coping with the run-off.
- The soil below the lawn is severely compacted after years of heavy use and neglect.
- The soil is heavy clay and the water cannot drain fast enough.
What do I do with a waterlogged lawn?
Firstly, you do nothing (to the lawn itself at least). Attempting any kind of physical treatment, or even walking on the lawn, will do further damage. Lawns are able to deal with short periods of waterlogging and you will probably find that once the water subsides then the lawn will bounce back very quickly.
If the problem stems from a drain blockage then that will need to be fixed as soon as possible. If not, then you’ll need to leave the water to drain naturally. Once the water had gone and the lawn is returning to normal you can start to think about prevention methods for the future.
How do I prevent further waterlogging?
Leaves, twigs and other debris can find it’s way into drainage systems during the course of the year, regular sweeping of the area will help to prevent this accumulation. If the drains are clogging up fairly regularly your customer may need to contact the local authority to find out if any improvements could be made.
If you suspect compaction to be the cause then aeration is an obvious requirement in the future. Hollow-core aeration is preferable as solid tine does not really help ‘free up’ the root zone. Do this when you are confident that the soil has fully drained as you may end up in a mud bath! High levels of thatch can prevent water from evaporating so a good scarification at least once every other year will help.
Heavy clay soils are naturally slower-draining than sandy soils. A combination of aeration and top-dressing with a sandy mix will help in the long-term but will take some years to make a marked improvement.