Not Another Lawn ?

In 2010 we got a lovely wee lab (bitch). Over the period she was peeing
on the grass in the back garden and we ended up with dead grass
Then the winter hit .... ouch it was a bad one.
We ended up with pretty much no lawn at all after that .... just dirt.
In summer of 2011, I resolved myself to sorting the back garden. I
halved it in two (horizontal) with the back section now being bark and
the play area for the kids and the front re-turfed.
RE-TURFING - There wasnt much grass left .... in fact sod all (excuse
the pun). The ground looked a little compacted so I thought grass roots
would struggle to penetrate. I got myself a rotavator and went over the
area a few times. On doing this it churned up all the crap that had
obviously been burried during the building of the house back in the 60's
so I spent 3 nights on my hands and knees picking out all the debris.
I rolled it and then got on with laying the lawn. Was easier than I
It looked spectacular. Lush green grass and the lovely smelling bark
enhancing my enjoyment on the garden swing chair. It was like this for
a few months. I watered it, cut it .... treated it like one of the
At one point we had a lot of rain up here (aberdeen) and I just never
got a chance to go out and cut the grass so it grew and grew.
Eventually we started seeing some mushrooms so I thought sod it (again
with the pun) got the flymo out and cut the grass down. The grass was
wettish and it was long enough to be a bit of a struggle to cut. After
that it was down hill.
Large patches started discolouring so I put down some of the grass
restorer etc but to no avail. It gradually all died. There is a wee
bit of grass returning but I dont see it getting better See below.
I have considered astro turff but I got alot of enjoyment from my the
real stuff so would like to have another go. But before I do I need to
understand why my grass died and to ensure that it doesnt happen again.
I should add that my dog now only pees on the bark and didnt actually
pee on the new turff although the garden slopes a little from the bark
area down to the grass. I wondered if the pee was running down but I
very much doubt it.
Anyway please let me know what you think or if you need more
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It's never a good idea to remove too much grass at one time. Best practice is to remove no more than 1/3 of what's there. So, when you cut it after letting it get overgrown you should have set the mower as high as possible.
I don't know what "grass restorer etc" means, but it's almost always a mistake to put down fertilizer when you suddenly have trouble like this. If it was growing fine and then within a few weeks it turns to crap, it's NOT fertilizer. Another common mistake is to over water it at the first sign of trouble. Some water is good, too much can make matters worse. Most likely you shocked the new grass by letting it get very long, then cutting back too much. That could have made it more susceptible to disease or insects which could have then finished it off.
Also, the worst conditions for disease are the heat of summer combined with being wet and having fertilizer with nitrogen present. Those conditions can enable turf disease to finish off a lawn in a matter of days.
You should have re-seeded or sodded it early last Fall. That is the optimum time to establish new turf. I would also test the soil for at least PH prior to proceeding and adjust if needed. Also, when you were having the problems, did you take a sample back to the sod supplier and ask them what was wrong? It's virtually impossible to diagnose something like this without actually seeing it. Many times even the experts aren't 100% sure without running actual tests.
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