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How to fix a muddy lawn

Workshop Legend



Drainage problems can quickly turn a beautiful-looking lawn into an unsightly mud pit.


Here’s our guide to fixing a muddy lawn. You can also check out our step-by-step guide How to install garden drainage.



Diagnose the problem

This area flooded during rainThis area flooded during rain


Drainage issues are not the sort of problems you can rush to fix. The first thing you need to do is work out why an area is draining poorly or why it is becoming so wet in the first place.


You may find that the cause of the problem (and the solution) is not in the muddy area itself. The best time to work out what’s happening is while the rain is coming down. Grab that umbrella or raincoat and get out there to investigate. This is what you are looking for:


  • Where is the water coming from? The issue may be not that the problem area is poorly drained but that too much water is running into it. The best solution might be installing drainage at a higher point to reduce the amount of water running in. For example, adding a grated drain along the edge of a path or driveway.


  • Is an obstruction preventing water from running away? Water might be pooling because it is being dammed by a garden bed or a raised pathway. Surface drainage or minor changes to garden design can often remedy this.


Spread concrete along the base of the trench before adding drain modulesSpread concrete along the base of the trench before adding drain modules

  • Is the problem caused by the area’s usage? Heavy foot traffic can compact your soil, preventing water from penetrating and draining away.



Moving excess water away


Here’s an example of a simple and easy solution for excess surface water.


The lawn was becoming boggy because too much surface water was coming into the area and then being blocked by the paving. Water was also flowing over the pavers, leaving them very slippery. The solution was simple – add a modular grated drain.


First, we dug a trench alongside the paved area, ensuring that there was a fall of at least 5mm every metre.


The grated drain now collects waterThe grated drain now collects waterWe mixed concrete and spread it evenly along the base of the trench. Then we added our drain modules, tapping down with a rubber mallet to firmly bed them in. We used a flexible, non-slotted drainage pipe to run the water to our outlet spot.


This drain now collects surface water from the lawn, keeping the surface flow off the paving.



Compacted soil


Soil that has been compacted can be easy to fix. All you need is a garden fork, a lawn rake and a bag of coarse sand.


Drive your garden fork about 5cm into the ground and gently rock it back and forth. Do this at intervals of 5cm to 10cm over the entire area.


Spread the sand over the area and then rake in vigorously. This will work the sand into those holes you opened up and the sand will allow water to penetrate. If you suspect that clay is a problem, add powdered gypsum to the sand at the rate recommended on the packaging.


Use a garden fork to aerate your soilUse a garden fork to aerate your soilIf it’s a high-traffic area such as a pathway or at the bottom of a flight of steps, consider replacing the grass with another surface or the problem will likely reoccur. Paving or decorative gravel retained by edging works well for high-traffic areas.



Installing sub-surface drainage


In some cases, the only way to fix a soggy lawn is by installing concealed underground drainage. Check out the step-by-step guide How to install garden drainage.


Find more help and advice for your lawn in these guides How to detect lawn problems and How to repair a lawn.


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