Advice on sunken turf

Morning, I have had a note from a client who's garden that we turfed before xmas. Basically it has sunk in places. The ground was heeled in really well and we had a good solid base to work off of. Now i am wondering if this has been caused by how much rain we have had? 

The client just wants us to roll it with a good size roller i.e. 120kgs ish

Any thoughts guys?

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  • That's a heavy roller! From my experience, a roller will not do much good here. Depending on how much its sunk, I'd let the grass grow a bit longer and then topdress the sunk areas being careful to not completely bury it...... I use a springbok rake or fingers to work the soil in and get the grass tips protruding above the topdressing.  You can always do this a few times till you get it level. Otherwise, you'll have to lift the sunken turf......... as its only recently been laid, shouldn't be too tricky.

    • The ground is still soft in places. We aren't talking massive amounts but enough maybe 15-35mm at worst. It's been really mild here and the turf has rooted quite well :( so lifting isn't a good option.

      Client is an engineer on the railway and when they have soft spots out come whackers and such and that's what he wants done with where is soft. Only using a roller instead.

      Did contemplate a small whacker on 8x4 18mm ply but doubt it would be overly effective
  • Firstly, don't roll, it will only accentuate any soft areas.  If the prep work was carried out correctly, there should be no problem at this stage.  Maybe people or dogs have been walking on the turf too early. I would keep off it until the ground has settled down, then give it a cut with a roller mower and see what you have.  

  • PRO

    If you're going to be carrying out the maintenance on the site, then you've got a lot more scope to deal with this issue over time, so the top dressing and waiting to see how it improves would be the route i'd personally go down,since you're already there. But if you're not doing the maintenance, then i'd prefer to cut  crosses in the lawn peel back and top up the soil option, as it should be all sorted in one visit, which obviously means less travelling time and fuel costs for you, and the client will be pleased that you've rectified the issue quickly. 

  • PRO

    rolling will cause compaction and mean the roots will struggle to further develop - so best to avoid. If the client is adament for rolling, wait for it to be a bit firmer and then give a heavy aeration after rolling.

    I think however, the top dress or higher cut ideas mentioned already should be the first port of call.

    Not sure re the rain point as for much of the south east the levels of rain have been a pretty normal season - venture north and it's a lot more. If it's bad now with boggy patches, that points to an underlying soil problem - poke around with a soil sampler to check.

  • PRO

    Are you sure the prepping was all good? Could be someone has buried old turf and or weeds under the topsoil. If that hasn't happened and prep was very good then it sounds very much like someone has walked over it when it was very wet. I agree with the previous comments, assuming that its all still firm, I wouldn't roll it, much better to top dress it and brush it in a bit at a time over a few weeks.  

  • PRO

    Could it have been some tree stumps that were ground out and the rotting wood has caused the level to sink ? I have seen this on more than one occasion.

    • It's only been down a month Stuart.

  • Heavy rain will have contributed to the turf sinking. I use a lute to top dress the turf but do this when the grass is a bit taller and when it's dry as it will be easier to spread the dressing. You might have to do this a couple of times throughout the growing season to get it level.
    • I've had sinking lawns a few times due to broken drains. One was not so obvious as it was an old drain no one knew was there.

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