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My lawn seems to be going downhill year by year. Every year I regularly mow, scarify, feed and I feel look after it well, but it seems to be getting worse year by year.

The lawn is UK based, not covered and reasonably large, some of the gaps are from where I scarified but nothing grew back. I laid seed but nothing came.

Attached are photos of it but Im not sure if I should scarify, compost, or just continue to be defeated? Also, when I do something, when should I do it? Help!

Overall

Lawn 1

From kicking a yellow patch

Area I scarified last year

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  • Scarifying should only remove dead material, not pull the grass out by the roots and leave bare patches. But "I laid seed but nothing came" suggests either you are doing something very wrong, or there is a real problem here. How much sun does the lawn get per day in summer and winter? Your pictures show a lot of shade but that might just be the time of day when you took them. – alephzero Feb 24 '19 at 16:04
  • It gets a good amount of sun all over. Sorry, the photo was taken at 4pm in Feb. – Rob Feb 24 '19 at 16:50
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    How is the drainage in that area? What kind of soil do you have - clay? chalk? Also, how high do you mow? I'm really not seeing any weeds - do you use an herbicide? If so, which one(s)? – Jurp Feb 24 '19 at 21:23
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    Did you ever use fertilizers? To me it seems a soil problem (heavy, not deep, too much water). How this garden were "built"? (it seems with little or no soil preparation). – Giacomo Catenazzi Feb 25 '19 at 8:05
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    Don't cut so short. That will help roots grow deep and ameliorate some soil issues. – That Idiot Feb 25 '19 at 21:07
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Don't cut lower than one inch, ever. Grass seed needs cultivated soil in order to grow, you can't just chuck the seed on the hard bare patches and expect it to take. In April, cut the grass then use a fork to lightly cultivate the worst of the bare patches. Use a hard-wearing grass seed mixture suitable for a family lawn. Scatter the seed, lightly rake in then gently firm down the soil. If possible protect the seeded patches from marauding pets and children. Repeat as necessary in August/September. Good luck.

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  • I have used Dormant Overseeding for a decade now, here in Ohio, and I have one of the best lawns in the suburbs. I just go out during the holidays and spread seed every year. The rise and fall of the freezing and thawing soil brings seed down into good contact with the soil, and the moist spring takes of the rest. – Evil Elf Jan 22 at 13:16
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There are a number of things that you can do to repair your lawn:

  • incorporate mycelium like Winecaps, or Oyster Mushrooms as they will facilitate transport of nutrients between different plants
  • incorporate ducks as they will aerate the soil, but not kill your grass if moved around the yard regularly (move around the kiddy swimming pool for the ducks while fertilizing the soil)
  • grow your grass out to about 1' then cut back to about 3" so it will want to send up other chutes to grow the same amount of food (compost the grass then respread it in the bad areas)
  • don't use fungicides or herbicides as they are designed to kill different parts of your lawn
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Have you ruled out underground pests like cutworms, grubs beetles etc? Do you aerate? Are you fertilizing appropriately, i.e. high nitrogen in spring and high in Phosphorous and potassium in the fall? You may need to have a soil analysis done. Do you mulch your grass? You may need more organic matter in your soil and mulching is a great way to keep nutrients in the soil as well as save bagging the grass. You could also add a top dressing in spring of soil, peat or manure. As others have said, don't cut your grass too short and never cut more than 1/3 of the height of the grass. Professionals recommend a height of 2 1/2 inches, which is where I kept mine for years. This causes less stress on the plant, shades the roots, encourages rhizome propagation and reduces evaporation, so less watering is needed. Are you over watering or watering too often? A good lawn needs 1 1/2 inches of water per week, preferably once a week to encourage the roots to go deep. Frequent light watering makes the roots weak and susceptible to damage.

So, without actually seeing your lawn it is hard to say what exactly the problem is. You might be best off to get a professional to do a consult and offer advice on how to proceed, but if you follow the basics of fertilizing appropriately, mulching or adding organic matter, appropriate watering, never cutting more than a third of the height of the grass and keeping the grass at about 2-3 inches then the lawn should sort itself out.

I quit going crazy about having a manicured lawn years ago and started over seeding with clover. Self fertilizing, less cutting and drought resistant. I only mow about 6 times a year and never water. My lawn looks fine and I have a lot more time for real gardening

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