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Newly Turfed Lawn Looks Like Straw: What Can I Do?

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 8 Jun 2016 | comments*Discuss
Lawn Turf Brown Landscape Gardener


I had a new lawn turfed and the garden landscaped last year. I did everything I was instructed to do regarding the new turf; all winter and this spring, the lawn has been soaked but now the lawn just looks like straw all over.

I had the chap back who laid it and he says it's full of thatch. I am no gardener but I didn't think that it could go like that and need a total make over within 10 months of been laid. I would really like an opinion as some people I work with say this should not be the case any advice would be grateful.

(B.J, 21 April 2009)


How very annoying – but unfortunately brown patches on the lawn are the bane of just about every gardener’s life at one time or another.

There are so many different possible causes that it’s impossible to even begin to attempt a long-distance diagnosis without seeing the problem first hand and although I agree that what you describe certainly isn’t the sort of outcome you’d hope for, it doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone’s to blame.

In any case, the important thing is resolving the problem and getting you the beautiful lawn you wanted in the first place – and I think there’s a way to go about doing this that should work very well.

Get Some Help

If you’re not happy with the look of your garden, I’ll bet your landscape gardener isn’t either and he’ll be pretty anxious to do something to help – which is borne out by the fact that he was prepared to come back to have a look. Despite all the horror stories of cowboy landscapers that hit the newspapers every now and then, as with most walks of life, the vast majority are thoroughly honest, decent folk who take a real pride in their work (and no, I’m not a landscape gardener, before you ask!).

I think the most sensible thing to do next would be to ask yours to pop back for another visit – but this time see if one of the knowledgeable work colleagues that you mentioned would be prepared to come along too.

There are three major benefits to be gained from this approach:

  • If as you say yourself, you’re “no gardener”, the jargon of gardening can sometimes be a little confusing (and in addition, I will admit, some professional gardeners are not the world’s clearest or best communicators!) so having a garden-savvy friend could help.
  • That old saying about two heads – or in this case, three – being better than one has a good deal going for it; between the lot of you, you should be able to work out what’s gone wrong and, most importantly, what to do about putting it right.
  • You’ll be able to discuss how things are going with your colleague – and pick his or her brains for tips and suggestions along the way.
The cause of lawn problems can sometimes be immediately obvious and the remedy very straightforward and at other times – like with your turf – there’s just nowhere to start without knowing an awful lot about the site, how the ground was prepared, what type of grass was laid, how it was treated, the underlying soil conditions and so on.

Bottom line – there’s no substitute for eyes on the ground, so call up your landscape gardener, enlist the services of one of your knowledgeable gardening work-mates and (hopefully) look forward to a lawn to be proud of, in the near future. Best of luck!

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HI I had new Turf laid 11 days ago. I have been watering it for hours as instructed and yet it turned like straw...... I hired someone to rotavate, level the ground and lay the turf for me, as I am no expert. I was assuredthat he has 10 yrs experience and laid many lawns before. Well the turf got laid, and I watered it, but it turned brown more and more each day. I could not contact the person I hired, as he was on holiday. When I contacted him, he came out the next day and took a look. He tried to blame me and said I did not water it. I showed him how uneven the ground is and how dipped the lawn was, to which he replied" it will sort itself out" I told him ,that I noticed piles of weeds have been used to fill any gabs under the new turf, He said that does not matter it wont have any effect on the lawn. I know I am noexpert, but my common sense tells me this is wrong. Well today I was expecting him to come and see what can be done to rectify the issue, but he did not turn up as promised. I tried calling as well as messaging him.....no reply on either. I have a receipt for rotavating, levelling and turfing the garden.....in my opinion he has not fulfilled his side of the verbal contract. I would appreciate any advice pls. many thanks. Elly
Elly - 8-Jun-16 @ 7:49 PM
I laid a new lawn on September this year and at first it did well. Now hold of the lawn has just turned to soil. Hardly any grass. The soil is not hard and it looks very loose soil. Any help would be appreciated
Carol - 6-Dec-15 @ 4:50 PM
It looks like grubs attacked my back yard, it turned brown early and had much bird activity. Now I have a lot of crab grasss. Question /can I just kill the crab grass and firilize? will the grass come back or do I have to reseed.? How do I reseed.? Do I have to pull up old and put down new loam or just overseed?
larry - 5-Sep-11 @ 4:42 PM
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