My grass is growing quite unevenly before and after scarifying, over-seeding and watering and I'm looking for advice on what to try next.

We own a new build property in the UK with clay-like soil. We had turf laid just before we moved in November 2020 and suspect the landscapers just laid it on top of poor quality soil (builders debris, bricks, rocks, etc). In some places, it's difficult to stick a fork in past a couple of centimeters.

It grows quite patchy and became thatched within the first year. This spring (April) I scarified it, pulling up the dead grass, and used the other tool-head to dig out troughs (I thought this was an aerator but I think I was wrong). Then I over-seeded and watered it for a few weeks. I cut it long (70mm setting, ~3") for the first time today and it looks healthier, but unfortunately still patchy in the same places. See the pictures.

I think my next steps are to just keep watering to soften the soil and mowing high, but I'm wondering if there's anything else I should consider this year. Maybe stick a fork in it or rent an actual aerator? Would fertiliser help?


Thatched lawn in the first year

Scarified lawn

Recovered lawn

  • In the one hand (or choice of directions) spread 1/4" of compost over it. On the other heave chemicals at it (which might make growth, but won't make tilth.) On the third hand dig it out and fix what's under it. The third hand is expensive, of course.
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jun 2, 2022 at 23:49
  • When you mow, are you mulching or removing the clippings?
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 15:06
  • Removing the clippings, my mower has a basket.
    – tompreston
    Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 10:27
  • Do you then compost them and return the compost to the lawn?
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 10:43
  • No, but I do have an unused compost bin. I might start using it, but that's a long term solution.
    – tompreston
    Commented Jun 30, 2022 at 12:20


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