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Questionnaire: is Your Lawn in Need of Renovation?

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 16 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Renovation Turf Grass Lawn Drainage

Sometimes it’s not easy to know when routine maintenance and care is no longer enough, and what a lawn really needs is something more akin to a rescue operation. At the other end of the scale, while some lawns which look in horrible condition on first sight can be very successfully renovated, for others you’ll just be wasting your time even trying. How do you know when you’re best off cutting your losses and simply starting again?

Work your way through this questionnaire and hopefully most of the answers will become clear and you’ll have a better idea of whether you should be thinking about renovation – or re-turfing!

    1. Which of the these best describes the general appearance of your lawn ?

  • a) Almost entirely weed-free, with no obvious tufts of coarse grass.
  • b) Pretty weedy but with some areas of proper lawn grass.
  • c) Mostly tufty grasses, with moss, weeds and bare patches.
  • 2. How well does your lawn drain after a downpour?

  • a) Very readily.
  • b) Well in parts, but others are prone to stay waterlogged.
  • c) Slowly and sometimes gets waterlogged.
  • 3. Is your lawn free from obvious bumps and hollows?

  • a) Yes.
  • b) Mostly.
  • c) No.
  • 4. Looking at the grass itself, is it?

  • a) Fine leafed and lush.
  • b) A bit of a mixture of mostly fine leafed grass with areas of rougher types.
  • c) Almost entirely made up of coarse-leafed varieties.
  • 5. Can you see patches of bare earth showing through your lawn?

  • a) Absolutely not!
  • b) Yes, in a few places.
  • c) Oh yes!
  • 6. Are there any signs of scalping, where parts have been mown too short?

  • a) No, it’s all evenly cut.
  • b) No, it’s too overgrown to tell.
  • c) Yes, in one or two places.
  • 7. Is there any evidence of fairy rings, mould patches, slime or obvious discolouration?

  • a) No.
  • b) Yes, some.
  • c) Yes, extensively.
  • 8. Are there any signs of thatch or other organic debris on the lawn?

  • a) Yes, a slight layer.
  • b) A layer about half an inch thick.
  • c) A good inch or more.
  • 9. Is there much moss present in the lawn ?

  • a) None/hardly any.
  • b) Some, but mostly in small patches.
  • c) Large swathes of the stuff.
  • 10. Can you drive a matchstick completely into your lawn with your thumb?

  • a) Yes, easily.
  • b) Yes, but with a bit of difficulty in some areas of the lawn.
  • c) No, it won’t go in fully.


Mostly (a)s

It certainly doesn’t sound as if your lawn needs too much in the way of rescuing! Lucky old you if you’ve just inherited it from a previous owner, and if it’s the result of years of your own hard work then congratulations on a job well done! Just a little routine care and attention and it should stay looking really good. Fortunately there are plenty of hints and tips elsewhere on this site to help you do just that.

Mostly (b)s

Your lawn seems to be a prime candidate for a spot of renovation. This kind of work is seldom what you’d call a quick fix, but with patience and a bit of work, you should be able to bring your patch of grass back from the edge and turn it into something to be proud of – but it will take some time to do. Look up the relevant sections of the site, take a big breath and then get started. Good luck!

Mostly (c)s

Oh dear; most damaged lawns can be renovated provided there’s enough good quality grasses left, but from what you’ve described, it sounds as if things may have already passed the point of no return. It’s worth making a really good assessment of your lawn – see the relevant sections of this site for help on how to do that – to decide if there is any point in trying to rescue it, or if you really would be better off taking it up and starting from scratch. Whichever course of action you need to take, you’ll find loads of help and advice on the rest of the site.

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