Home > FAQs > Reclaiming a Long-forgotten Lawn: A Case Study

Reclaiming a Long-forgotten Lawn: A Case Study

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 24 Aug 2015 | comments*Discuss
Lawn Grass Neglected Mowing Strimmer

“Well, I think this was a nice-looking lawn .......... once.” When even the Estate Agent who’s showing you round comes away with a line like that, you just know you’re in for some hard work reclaiming it, but for Lynne George, the rest of the property was saying “buy me” far too loudly to let that worry her. Besides, she knew she could call on the services of a couple of really good gardeners to help her get things sorted out – her parents!

“I mean up until I bought this house,” she explains, “my gardening experience was pretty much growing a few sunflowers as a kid – so I was like, ‘help!’ Mum and Dad were really brilliant.”

Getting Started

The three of them began by giving the whole area a thorough inspection, looking for any particular problems and noting positive features that would be worth retaining at the same time. In the end, it was, as Lynne admits, a bit of a lop-sided list, but even so, although things had obviously been neglected and weeds and coarse grasses had begun to crowd out the better quality turf in places, overall there was still enough good grass to work with. “That was really good news,” Lynne says. “I didn’t want to face all the hassle of re-turfing – or all the cost either.”

Fortunately she had bought her new home early in the year, which meant she could get things underway almost straight away, rather than having to wait for the following spring. Lynne started her reclamation work by strimming the grass down to about an inch long, using the sturdy electric strimmer that her parents had very wisely given her as a house warming present! After a good raking to get up all the cuttings and a thorough sweeping to shift as much thatch and dead material as possible, Lynne got her first proper view of the lawn she’d inherited.

“It wasn’t anywhere as bad as I feared; Dad actually smiled when he saw it, and he’s a bit of an old pessimist when it comes to lawns, so I thought ‘cool’ – because then I really knew things were looking up!”

Mowing and Aerating

The next job was to give the lawn the first real cut it had had in a fair while – and getting it right is one of the single most important factors in a successful reclamation.

“It’s a good job my parents know me. I’m so impatient, but they kept drumming it into me to take it slowly with the mowing and start off with the blades way up so you hardly take anything off. It’s so frustrating, but I’d have to admit they were right.”

Aeration is another thing which plays a major role in returning an abandoned lawn to its former glory. Most of the books will recommend either a rotary aerator or the use of a garden fork to achieve the right result, but a trip to her local garden centre provided Lynne with an altogether more ingenious solution – a set of spike-equipped sandals, purpose built for the job. “It’s a real lazy gardener’s approach, but all I have to do is strap them on and walk about a bit. I mean, how hard is that?”

A Year On

Lynne’s renovation work is now into its second year, but already her lawn is much improved. She’d be the first to admit that the perennial weeds which colonised it during its neglected days are still a major headache, but she has already dug out most of the larger ones and is busily attacking the others with a good quality proprietary weed-and-feed. Although it’s inevitably going to take a while to eradicate them all, she’s overjoyed at the results so far.

“I’m really proud of my lawn,” she says, “and even Dad said I’d done a good job, so it must be alright.” From what she says, that sounds like praise indeed!

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Caz - Your Question:
I have several bare patches on my lawn. I have tried four different types of grass seed but nothing grows even after regular watering.help

Our Response:
Our partner article: How to Revive a Worn Out Lawn, link here should help you further.
LawnExperts - 25-Aug-15 @ 10:49 AM
I have several bare patches on my lawn. I have tried four different types of grass seed but nothing grows even after regular watering.help
Caz - 24-Aug-15 @ 12:25 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Ren
    Re: Problems With a New Lawn
    Hi moved into a new build last June, they turfed our garden but the lawn was dead when layed so was turfed again in October but by…
    5 March 2019
  • MacO
    Re: Above Ground & Underground Lawn Pests
    @Cherry Court - it sounds very strange. Are there any drainage pipes in that area which could be causing the…
    21 September 2018
  • Cherry Court
    Re: Above Ground & Underground Lawn Pests
    Hello We have had a problem with a corner of the lawn, which was developed about 14 months ago using compost and…
    20 September 2018
  • arthur
    Re: Problems With a New Lawn
    AS bove i had a new turfed lawn put down early june, before it was laid the ground was rotavated,raked, leveled,heeled in,good quality…
    3 March 2018
  • Ady
    Re: Types of Grass
    @Freshman - You need a drought-tolerant grass. Buffalograss is native to the midwest-America and is very hardy - but still needs 1/4" of water per…
    18 December 2017
  • Freshman
    Re: Types of Grass
    Hi Can you please advise me for the best grass seed to grow in Africa Ghana Thanks
    15 December 2017
  • Molly
    Re: Questionnaire: Are You Clued-up on Common Lawn Problems?
    Previous neighbours have emptied there water butts into our garden through a hidden pile, then…
    5 October 2017
  • David in Devon
    Re: Adjusting Your Soil's PH
    On the ph advice on lawns, you state that rhododendrons flourish in alkaline soil. Really? If so, you need to inform RHS that they are…
    26 September 2017
  • Col455
    Re: FAQ: Lawn Mowers
    @graham - Have you thought of getting someone like Green Thumb in to treat your lawn. They can spot all the diseases etc and give you the best…
    19 September 2017
  • graham
    Re: FAQ: Lawn Mowers
    I have a lawn that was 1st laid down some 22 years ago and it is on 2 levels with a slope between. It covers approximately 25m x 15m and consists…
    18 September 2017