Help with a lawn which won't grow, 2nd time round!

Hello
I have a lawn which just won't thrive, here's the facts:
- Live on the sea front, it's the rear garden, 18m2, west facing. - A new promenade was being built 4 years ago and the rubble and soil from existing ground was removed and dumped in a mini car park opposite me I was doing the garden at the same time so thought it was too good to be true not to pinch the soil and use for my lawn. Did this, filled the area to a depth of 4" and sewed seeds. At first the grass looked amazing, but after a few weeks started getting patchy, very yellow/strawy and eventually areas died back. I tried adding more seed, plenty of water, no luck.
- It got to the point where I called a gardener who (for 140) took a look at it and said they'd add some top soil and fertilizer, more seed and refertilize in a few weeks. They did that and it looked better, but eventually right back to square 1, but buy this time the gardener was uncontactable! Just can't get hold of him, typical!
- Since then, we moved out to restore our home and the grass was left in a bad state, never cut (although only a few areas actually grew long enough to even warrant cutting!), but I thought I'd address it when we moved back in. That time is now and I cut it initially to clean it up and see what it's do, but no change.
- Had a skip this w/e for removing tarmac, and with some space left, I decided to dig up the lawn, and also removed a fair amount of soil (thinking maybe it's contaminated?... although it served a good enough purpose when it was used in its existing location!)
- I've dug down 2-3" and intend to buy some unscreened topsoil and turf it, but I'm worried after a few weeks or months the same thing will happen when the roots bed in?
- I did notice that after heavy rain, puddles appeared/it gets waterlogged the soil is 4" over shail, could this be a factor? I also noticed dark (almost black soil when digging it up which I think coincided with a pond smell not sure if this is the soil the gardener added of if it's bad soil? And I also noticed quite a few (every other shovel load) of inch and half long caterpillar type creatures but no legs ie. like a large maggot, some were brown, some crimson red, red ones were like a cocoon!
That's all the info I can say guys, included all I know with the hope of some guidance/advice. Any ideas???
Thanks
--
deansplit


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wrote:

rubble? soil? what exactly was it that you used? was it topsoil that stuff was growing on or just crap? you're near the sea, was this soil contaminated with salt? any reason to think it's contaminated with something else?
Did this, filled

Assuming the soil is at least halfway decent, did you test the PH? It's not unusual for the PH for topsoil that is brought in to be way off. I would take a sample of the soil and have it tested by an agricultural lab to tell you what it has or is lacking.

You want SCREENED topsoil.
and turf

It's such a small area, why are you only taking out 2"? If the soil is suspect and you're going to replace it, I'd take out 6" or at least as much as you previously put in.

Depends on how fast it then drains. Puddles are not a good sign though.
I also

i don't know what a pond smell is. I'd say you need someone knowledgable about gardening or turf care in the area to take a look.

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deansplit wrote: ...

4" over shale on a west facing slope is probably not quite enough, especially if you are getting winds from the coast.
you might need more topsoil, your drainage situation doesn't sound great either, but i dunno what you want to do about breaking through or trenching something like shale. that sounds like a major expense. the more topsoil you bring in the better the soil will be at holding moisture and distributing it if you get a heavy rain. but overall, even after adding another several inches of topsoil i don't think you gain as much as you might need. also depends upon the amount of clay and organic material in the topsoil as to what it will hold for moisture and what it will support for plant growth.
bugs are a good sign your soil supports life. if you don't notice bare patches appearing in the middle of otherwise healthy grass i would not worry.
the swamp smell should not be at the surface or within a few inches of the grass roots. down deeper it would be normal in waterlogged soils with some organic matter. a sign that better drainage is needed...
in the old days, people would scrape out the bottom of ditches and ponds to use that black muck in gardens. it's good soil additive for gardens, but has to be done a few weeks before planting.
songbird
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