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18103 posts

Uber Geek


# 205730 24-Nov-2016 17:25
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Ive done the Youtube and Google thing, last resort is here!


Where we moved early this year has a grass lawn. Its brown underneath. Green grass is thin, as in like someone who is balding. So Ive been trying to work out whats wrong. Here is my progress to date




Seemed likely as the brown stuff is not loose its dead grass. So, thatch will block sun and air on the topsoil and be a barrier of sorts to water. Bought a thatching rake, and got half a green bin off the front lawn which is worse than the back lawn. Not all of it had much thatch though. But now, the thatch is really thin after detailed checking out back. And its not packed solid, so it can't be that.


The grass that decides to migrate off the lawn into the garden grows great, so again that points to the lawn itself.


The soil is about 8 inches thick then its hard clay, packed down tight. Whatever packing measurement they use its supposed to be 120 somethings, but here it was 200. (house is 5 years old, I have all the documents when the owner built it) I would have thought this would cause lack of drainage if anything. And when it rains a decent amount (ChCh) the back patio floods a little, and behind the garden shed, indicating poor drainage. But the gardens which are mainly shrubs and a few flowers grow great. So that confuses me.




The ground seems hard. But unsure how to gauge that as I don't often check that :-)  nor poke a thin knife into the lawn as I did last night (searching for the 5 underground sprinklers, found 3 !) Im thinking compaction is an option, stopping moisture getting deep. The lawn is getting quite a few weeds so that isn't great, maybe due to unhealthy grass, or more likely, thinned grass. 




I read excessive use can reduce organisms in the ground, that reduces aeration and soil cultivation by them




I read that excessive nitrogen makes the grass grow fast, too fast, and it becomes unhealthy




My next step is to buy a good sharp fork and punch holes in the earth and allow moisture in. Also to help find the other 2 underground sprinklers. On that, how deep might the hoses be, as I dont want to puncture them. The heads are an inch below top soil. I will add lawn fertiliser that I bought last weekend. 


Right now Im thinking aeration, NPK fertiliser, and heaps of water


Any other hints?

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1695 posts

Uber Geek

  # 1676903 24-Nov-2016 17:41
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I was a skeptic but they have been great.   

18103 posts

Uber Geek


  # 1676913 24-Nov-2016 18:28
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Thanks. Not down here though. I;d like to sort it myself actually, learning experience, exercise etc. 


Had an oscillator sprinkler, cheap $15 one, rubbish, they seize. Got a Holman one, I broke that, its plastic cogs etc, my fault, but reading up, they are unreliable. Used my cheap and cheerful round plastic one, the ones that have a rotating top for different nozzles, great. The water is 100% rather than slowly back and forth. and after a good while, the lawn was sopping. Today, I see the local hedgehogs have been poking their noses in, so that sprinter gave a much more intense coverage, as its softened the top a lot, great. Which is pointing me towards aeration and water. I water properly, infrequent and heavy. The oscillator doesnt really seem to add much water, or its too slow.


1770 posts

Uber Geek


  # 1680166 30-Nov-2016 16:08
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Hire a lawn aerator.


You will probably hit one or more of your lawn irrigation tubes, but at least you will know where they are.


You could leave the irrigation system 1/2 on, so when you do hit one, you'll know exactly where it is.


Bit like the battleship game :-)


Don't bother with the aerator sandals - they dont get deep enough.


Image result for aerator sandals

My thoughts are no longer my own and is probably representative of our media-controlled government

5385 posts

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  # 1680174 30-Nov-2016 16:20
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Blood and bone provides nitrogen which improves greenness.  It also encourages the establishment of micro-organisms that break down thatch.


Raking in a light dressing of fine compost 2 or 3 times a year will gradually improve the soil.  Applying  gypsum as will help to break down the clay.


Might also be worth checking the pH.  Clay can be acidic and this is addressed by adding lime. 






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  # 1680185 30-Nov-2016 16:55
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I have an update.


Sprinklers. Bit of a funny story. There are four hoses, so I thought four sprinklers, but last night I found the rest, there are 16. They are all sunk, so I need to raise them. Oddly, they work like crap. I could pee further. But, what I found was when I held one up, it worked good, spinning around,  then up popped the other three. Cool. Then they fade as they spinning thing gets waterlogged in the fist size hole I created, but they work.


My neighbour popped over to talk about out hedges, so I took the opportunity to see his lawn. From my top floor view, its better than mine, but up close its great. Green, thick and uniform.So he showed me what he does. He feeds twice a year, little grey balls, that dissolve quite quick, so give a quick popup into the soil. Got them now. (Lebanon ProScape) He overseeds annually. Just adds it with a spreader, waters it in, done. I thought he would need to put some topsoil on, but no, adds seed to the grass, waters and leaves it. Got the seed now too, and same spreader. These are from a seed company, Prebble Seeds, not a garden place. 


As the houses were built at the same time, and the grass around here (subdivision) all seems similar, I will do what he does. Weed spray, Mow the lawn, run my scarifier rake over to get any loose stuff, and scrape any almost bare sold, and seed and feed and water. 


While we are on clay, the clay starts about 8 inches deep, the rest is topsoil. My sprinkler finding mission, involving a kitchen knife,shows me the soil isn't compacted. The conclusion I have now is the lawn is hungry for food/nutrients, and needs extra seed to bring it back. The weed level has got quite bad, a symptom of the problem. I have a bag of garden shop NPK, which is a slow release so Ill dress that on in a few weeks. 


Nitrogen, the stuff I got, has 15% Nitrogen over two types. 


Now I just need to broadleaf spray the weeds, and its either windy or wet. Soon hopefully then I'll attack the large lawny taking a good day off and do it all.

18103 posts

Uber Geek


  # 1680187 30-Nov-2016 16:59
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Blood and bone provides nitrogen which improves greenness.  It also encourages the establishment of micro-organisms that break down thatch.


Raking in a light dressing of fine compost 2 or 3 times a year will gradually improve the soil.  Applying  gypsum as will help to break down the clay.


Might also be worth checking the pH.  Clay can be acidic and this is addressed by adding lime. 







Good to know re Nitrogen and organisms.

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