Problems With a New Lawn

Whether you’re creating an entirely new lawn on a previously untouched site, or re-making an old one that’s simply deteriorated too far to be saved, good site preparation before you start seeding or laying turf is almost undoubtedly the single most important factor for success. Never-the-less, despite the huge influence it does have, it’s not always the only possible cause, so if you’re after the ‘perfect’ new lawn, it pays to be aware of what can go wrong, how to try to avoid these problems, and what to do to fix things if they do occur.

Poor Growth

  • LIKELY CAUSE: Poor growth can be caused by ‘damping off’, poor weather conditions, and low soil fertility or condition, as well as by inadequate preparation work.
  • HOW TO AVOID IT: Damping off can be avoided by not sowing too thickly, or during humid weather to avoid creating ideal conditions for the fungus which causes it; watering properly during dry spells, or making sure the site drainage is good for when it’s wet should avoid weather problems; good cultivation and management can help with soil condition.
  • HOW TO CURE IT: Any obviously dead or diseased grasses need to be removed and new seed or turf applied once the underlying cause has been addressed.

Thin or Bare Patches

  • LIKELY CAUSE: This tends to be a problem of seeded lawns rather than turf and it’s often caused by poor germination, sowing the seed too thinly or adverse weather.
  • HOW TO AVOID IT: Using only good quality, fresh seed should tend to avoid most of the germination problems, taking care to sow it at the recommended density and once again, paying attention to watering and drainage will help minimise any weather related problems.
  • HOW TO CURE IT: The only remedy is to carefully rake over the affected area and then re-seed.


  • LIKELY CAUSE: Nine times out of ten this is down to lack of water and it is a particular problem in heavy, clay soils.
  • HOW TO AVOID IT: Make sure you water your new lawn properly, especially in even short spells of warm, dry weather.
  • HOW TO CURE IT: In the seeded lawn, water the whole area thoroughly and then add a top dressing of finely sieved soil or compost to fill in the cracks before adding a thin sowing of new seed. For cracks between individual turves, water the lawn until they swell up to their original size and then carefully top dress where they join, making sure you keep the lawn properly watered afterwards.


  • LIKELY CAUSE: Hollows are often caused by a poorly consolidated site settling after turfing or seeding, though rain-pooling on an inclined site can sometimes have the same effect on a seeded lawn.
  • HOW TO AVOID IT: Make sure that the site is properly prepared in the first place and the surface of the soil is of an even consistency without any rocks, stones or organic material which might affect the way it eventually settles.
  • HOW TO CURE IT: The simplest way to treat this on a lawn that has already begun to become established is to add a little top dressing into the hollow, repeating it once or twice a week as the grass grows up, until the hollow has been filled in.


  • LIKELY CAUSE: Poor site preparation is the number one cause of serious weed infestations.
  • HOW TO AVOID IT: Routine raking and hoeing will bring successive batches of seeds to the surface, where they will germinate and can then be destroyed, eradicating the natural weed reservoir in the soil long before you sow any grass on the site.
  • HOW TO CURE IT: Gentle hand weeding is the best remedy, ideally when the weed seedlings are still quite small and their roots are not well-developed, taking care not to rip up the grass at the same time. Do not be tempted to use weed-killer on a seeded lawn during its first year.

There’s no denying that taking on the job of creating a new lawn does mean that you’re going to be in for a good deal of work before you can enjoy the finished product. Get the preparation right, however, and take your time to avoid the obvious pitfalls and you’ll soon be well on the way to the lawn of your dreams!

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