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By Gattina

Bologna, Italy It

My poor lawn, uncared for/seriously neglected for the past 2 years badly needs some remedial work. It is so full of couch grass and weeds that the proper grass has been crowded out. There is no moss (too dry, sunny and alkaline) but the ground is quite compacted and there are unslightly dead areas (not bald, just the wrong stuff). Given the last 6 weeks of very unseasonably warm, dry weather here, (forecast to last until well into Spring)am I right in thinking that a first step would NOT be scarifying? It's too early and too dry to feed. It is quite a large area and there is no way that I could manage to rake it manually, so I've been out and bought an electric scarifier and am sorely tempted to use it right away but I know I probably shouldn't. I am already having to mow the grass/weeds, or I'd be overwhelmed (it did get an autumn feed) but I don't want to damage it. Are there any lawn experts out there who can offer me advice, please?



Long time since we've heard from you? Anyway, I would use your scarifyer now. Then, perhaps give it a spike all over with a fork and a dusting of sharp sand. Then a spring weed and feed or just a treatment with a selective weed killer after a couple of weeks when the grass starts to take off again. I find the liquid type, dispensed with watering can with a drip bar less likely to burn. My only concern is the presence of the dreaded couch grass. Selective weed killer will not deal with this. Only gyphosate will see it off but that would kill all the grass as well. You did say that you would like a new lawn, not.

27 Feb, 2019


Ah! another weedy lawn with lots of problems! I have just had the pond re-done and the digger and dumper have completely removed any grass that there was, the jolly buttercups are coming back strong, but not a sign of grass! So compacted and bare, and it's on clay, but ho hum! I am going to rake, chuck some grass seed and see what happens, probably all get eaten by the birds - but you never know!

28 Feb, 2019


I'm just wondering whether doing anything at this time of year (we're still technically in winter, despite the high temperature and sunshine) is such a good idea. Who knows if we might not get frosts again, or even snow. Also, the ground is very dry and hard - should it be moistened before I scarify?

28 Feb, 2019


Hi Gattina, good to see you. Jimmy is right on the whole, and you don’t need to worry about frost on grass. The ground does need to be fairly soft to spike (maybe after rain if you get some); then weed and feed. Good luck!

1 Mar, 2019


Ah, there's the rub, Sheilabub (Hello!!!) - IF and WHEN we get any rain. I've had to come in from the garden - it's getting a bit warm out there and I haven't got any suncream on. I've had the hosepipe out a few times in the last few weeks. It's really quite worrying. This time last year we all had the beast from the East and 2' of snow and the neighbours had to come and dig me out. I blame president Trump. And Brexit. No, the thing is, after scarifying and feeding, I really am going to need to re-seed, and germinating grass I imagine WOULD succumb to frost and snow (we have some tentatively forecast for Wednesday morning and who knows what else thereafter). Weed and feed would leave me with nothing, and you don't seem able to buy it here. It's usually hands and knees with a daisy-grubber fork.

2 Mar, 2019


Sending sympathy Gattina - sorry things are so tough. Yes, you're better waiting a week or two before seeding: grass needs warmish soil to germinate and wouldn't like to be frosted. Hope you can get it sorted in such uncertain weather :)

2 Mar, 2019


Bless you, Sheilabub: that's exactly it: grass seed would germinate in the blink of an eye at the moment, it's so warm, and so is the soil. We've been getting daily temperatures up in the mid-twenties for almost a month now. We have bees, wasps and at least one poor, misguided butterfly. Heaven help the poor little things. I'm concentrating on weeding borders and pathways at the moment. Tomorrow I'm going to attempt to prise up the paving stones to dig out as many of the couch grass rhizomes as I can, then put thick polythene down and re-lay them. I always thought retirement was supposed to be a time of peace, tranquility and doing as little as possible. I'm just beginning to realise quite how much Peter did out there when I thought he was just getting out of the housework.

2 Mar, 2019

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