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Complete lawn amateur needs desperate help!

Grassclippings - First Aid for LawnsThe email below is typical of the many that we receive.

We like them all and this one is a real classical dilemma for Dave the lawn owner who has battled so hard to sort his lawn. Hopefully with the advice gained from the 550 or so technical posts on this blog, he is now on his way of getting some impartial advice and assistance in his quest for a better lawn.

Hi Grass Clippings Team :)

Although I have owned a lawn/garden for nearly 8 years now, I am ashamed to say that I have betrayed it through serious neglect and am now fully committed to putting things right.

I am aware that I may indeed be too late and that I might need to start from scratch but ideally I'd love to recover the lawn myself, as it were.

I jumped in with both feet and ended up making things worse for myself. To give you a brief synopsis of events thus far:

I bought my first lawnmower (I had a friend who used to cut the lawn every two weeks or so for me but eventually he moved his business and stopped doing it and it was only mowed once every couple of months after that for a year or so) and I immediately set about getting the lawn looking half respectable. I mowed it down to 30mm (the lowest setting without messing around with blanking plates etc) on the mower. Then I bought some feed and weed and the end result of the two actions was a lawn that looked like I had been writing things on it with the scorched patterns following my application of the product!

I then set about raking up the dead moss and thatch which, as you can probably guess, was an impossible task by this time (my lawn is approx 10m x 9m so not a huge area) and I suffered terrible blistering to my hands. As I developed a kind of Japanese Torture-style fear of the rake (it got to the stage where simply holding the rake in the familiar start position made my hands ache!) I invested in a Bosch verticutter machine - now, this thing has pulled out absolutely masses of old crappy grass and moss but my lawn looked completely devastated afterwards.

Since then I've been doing a little bit of mowing, a bit more verticutting and raking, and I have added some grass seed. Nice new patches of grass are starting to spring up now but I've just added some more seed with fertilier in it to try and help out - after the feed and weed over-use I was worried about overusing seed and ended up probably being more conservative and not putting down enough initially.

Anyway, things are definitely picking up but the two problems I keep facing are a weed infestation and almost impossible coring of the surface - the weeds I spot-treat with a spray that doesn't harm grass - I am careful just to spray the weeds and I also have a Wolf-garten weed extractor that tends to remove a sizeable plug too, and I've been filling those with sharp sand mainly. However, the weeds are running riot at the moment. For coring, I bought the Wolf-garten hollow tine manual fork thing but it is absolutely useless - in numerous areas I can't even penetrate my soil fully, and when I do, the cores remain in the tool and they are really difficult to eject even when prodding away with a narrow stick.

As it was a newly-built house when I moved in, I have the standard 150mm (if lucky) topsoil on whatever rubbish the builders happened to want to chuck away into the garden at the time of building. Most places I can easily push a fork in but I wanted to do the job properly with hollow tines.

Anyway - and thanks for reading this far, by the way! - could you let me know if the Bosch verticutter is actually a reasonable piece of machinery for me to be using in your opinion please? As long as you think it's okay as a household appliance I'll continue to use it.

Second, if you know of a good hollow tine core tool I'd love to know. I'd rather not buy another machine as space is tight and the garden is perhaps not large enough to warrant one - what do you think?

Finally, while doing my raking business, I've noticed a large mass (which seems to have lessened considerably given the pounding I've unleashed on it of late, thankfully!) of some kind of weed that I *think* is clover - its roots are thin and stringy, often about 5 or 6" long at a time, and when I pull them, they tend to pop up through the old turf like a shoelace that's been covered over with a small layer of soil, if that makes sense. Basically, the roots grow almost horizontally, and are perhaps longer than 5-6" - they are perhaps just snapping at certain points as I tug them out. Sometimes I've found little three-headed leaves on them, like clover, but I'm terrible at identifying grass and weeds. I don't suppose you'd have an idea what this weed might be, from the description I've given, would you?

And now, really finally, I've noticed a different type of grass - at least, I think it's grass - in isolated areas - the blades are really green in colour but it's much wider than the nice thin new grass that is starting to grow iin general. It also has stalks with other blades coming off it. I was looking at some grass pictures the other night and it looks a bit like 'rough meadow grass' from pictures I have seen.

Basically, my fear is that these new weeds and rough grass will render my attempts to save my lawn futile - if you'd let me know if I am most likely wasting my time at the moment I'd appreciate it, and if not, what I should be looking to do to improve things.

I'm now going to continue my looking around your website. I apologise in advance if some of the above is dealt with as I have only read a few articles on there thus far.

In any case, thanks for posting your helpful advice and guides etc - for a complete novice like me it's really daunting - I set out with my new mower and the plan to use that feed and weed and in a matter of weeks having a glorious rear garden once more. That's certainly not been the case and I would appreciate any help and guidance in setting things righht, please!

Incidentally, I live in Manchester. I looked through the specialists list on your site but none of the companies I saw covered the North, it would seem. I'd love to bring in someone who could get over the shocking prior neglect and help me to sort it out, in case you know of anyone up this end :)

Many thanks for your spending the time to read this, and I would really appreciate it if you could fire me a quick reply if you get the chance,

Best,Dave :)

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