Need Help?

Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

See website, design work and favorite flowering plants at

Consultation and coaching for do-it-yourselfers is provided. Occasional emailed questions are welcome and answered free of charge. Oui, je parle francais.

See my work on Pinterest at Garden Guru Montreal

Entries in lush lawns (1)


Sick Lawns Can Be Cured

Most of us hope that our lawns will look as lush as this one does. I don’t pretend to be an expert on lawn maintenance. That doesn’t stop friendsand relatives from asking for my advice about their sick lawns that have lots of bare patches and scraggly tufts of grass. So I’ve done some homework and this is what I have discovered.

Both naturally occurring clay earth and home construction sites are bad for new lawns.The lawns of new homes built on clay are usually stressed out because they have very little organic matter on which to grow. While clay does contain beneficial nutrients, the fact that it is a dense and heavy growing medium in rainy weather, and hard packed as concrete in dry weather, makes it difficult for grass to thrive.

Newly constructed homes or renovated houses are usually situated on terrain that has been stripped of any beneficial organic matter during the construction period. Furthermore, contractors usually leave behind a lot of construction rubble which is often cleverly buried around the property before sod is applied.

In both of these situations, it is quite possible that a reliable landscaper might have spread a layer of nutritional earth over the clay or construction rubble to create a bed where grass sod can take root. But sod needs more than a temporary bed. It needs an environment rich in organic matter in order to thrive. One might choose to rip up the sod, excavate the clay or rubble, and replace it with black soil rich in humus and then re-sod again. That is an expensive solution usually left to those with generous budgets.

My research has “unearthed” the following reasonably inexpensive way to solve the problem:- Apply a half inch layer of compost over the lawn. Use the back of a hard-edge rake for spreading and leveling. Water the lawn with a sprinkler, not a drip hose, for about two hours on the day of application. Resume normal lawn watering after that. A severely stressed lawn whose future is doubtful will benefit from regular monthly applications, in the first weeks of May, June, September and October. Otherwise, two applications, one in early spring and one in autumn will be enough to bring a lawn back to health. When a lawn has been rejuvenated, one annual application each fall is enough.

Compost is a natural, organic product. It will not damage the soil or the lawn. It breaks down slowly throughout the season, releasing its nutrients to nourish both the soil and the grass. These nutrients attract worms and bugs that further enrich the soil simply by living there. In addition, these organisms take the compost from the grass surface down to the earth below. As well, decomposing organic matter contains moisture that humidifies dry soil.

Here in Canada, I have discovered a product called Bio Sol Sea Compost which is made from sea weed, shellfish flour, composted manure, peat moss and limestone. The ingredients in this product help stimulate growth, improve soil structure, break down clay, stimulate microbial activity in the soil and improve drainage.

Using compost may turn out to be a ‘green’ and economical way to improve a lawn’s health. If you plan to apply this solution to treat an unhealthy lawn, please let me know if it works. All of my research indicates that it should.