Boggy lawns: what causes them and how to fix them

Spring has sprung, and there’s some wet weather on the way. If you’re already starting to see surface water gathering on your lawn, now is the best time to act! Learn all about the three main causes of a boggy lawn in the UK, and what you can do about it, in our handy guide.

Diagnosing a boggy lawn

When treating a boggy lawn, the first step is to figure out precisely what’s causing it so that you can apply the right treatment. In our experience, waterlogging usually relates to issues close to the surface of the lawn, such as compaction, thatch or hydrophobic soil. These issues are relatively common in British gardens, and they don’t have to cost the earth to put right.

Soil Compaction

Barbecues, parties, garden games, pets and kids …the more you enjoy your grass, the higher the risk of soil compaction. Human foot traffic and the tracks of a lawn mower will naturally pack your soil down over time, and if the soil molecules get too tight, you can end up with dense ground that can’t absorb enough rainwater. Waterlogging isn’t the only problem caused by soil compaction – it also stops roots from growing properly, which can lead to yellowing, nutrient-starved grass that lasts all summer.

At Lawnkeeper, we typically treat soil compaction with a professional aeration and sometimes a wetting agent. A wetting agent will bind to the compacted soil and make it easier for water to pass through to the roots below, while aeration forces holes into the earth so that precious nutrients, moisture and air can reach the grass roots.


Thatch is a common problem in lawns that have been overfed with DIY treatments. Thatch is defined as a build-up of dead plant material just beneath the surface of the soil. Dead and rotting plant debris is a perfectly natural part of the soil in every garden, but if it builds up in localised clumps called thatch pockets, it becomes a serious issue. Underground thatch pockets hold rainwater like a sponge, creating the perfect climate for a whole host of lawn diseases and pests to take root. A thatch pocket also won’t drain as swiftly as normal soil, so any grass roots directly beneath it get starved of moisture.

In dry weather, grass with a thatch problem feels spongy underfoot, making it easy to identify, but at this time of year, the whole lawn can feel soft with the wet weather. If you’re looking out at a confusing patchwork of puddles on your lawn that don’t match up with where you’d expect bogginess to occur, there’s a good chance that thatch is the source of your boggy lawn problem.

The best way to deal with thatch is to tear it out of the soil using a scarifier. Scarification leaves your lawn looking rough for a short while but can help free your lawn from harmful levels of thatch, so it’s worth considering. The best way to check if you could benefit from a scarification treatment is to book a lawn analysis – one of our lawn care technicians can take some soil samples and talk you through what’s best.

Hydrophobic soil

Hydrophobic soil is often misdiagnosed as soil compaction. The symptoms are similar (rainwater beading on the surface of the lawn), but the causes, and subsequent treatment methods, are very different.  When a garden has suffered a severe toadstool infestation, the spores that naturally descend from a mushroom cap can clog the soil directly beneath, and this spore-clogged soil will reject any moisture thrown at it.

Because the spores lie in the soil itself, no single treatment can cure hydrophobic soil on its own. The correct solution is a combined treatment of wetting agents, top dressing, aeration and bespoke feed & weed solutions.

Prepare your lawn for summer: get a free lawn analysis

If you want a lush green  lawn with good drainage and strong roots, give us a call on 0845 0945 363. We’ll use our expert knowledge to identify and repair your boggy lawn’s underlying problems in time for barbecue season.

Find Your Local Lawnkeeper