• The Green Thumb diaries

The Urban Lawn Revival Guide

Updated: Feb 22

If you live in London, or in fact any Urban setting in the UK, and you have more of a chewed up and spat out rugby pitch lawn, as apposed to a smooth Wimbledon tennis lawn then this could be the best 'lawn revival guide' you never knew you needed, until now!

In brief, this little guide will tell you exactly what you need to do to not kill your grass if you've just laid a brand new lawn. It will also help you train and maintain an already established lawn.

Read on...

Option 1, Replace

If you've got to the point where all you see are rutts, bald patches and enough dandelions to feed a whole army of guinepigs then you probably need to replace your lawn. See below.

Option 2, Revive

If you are determined to revive the lawn you already have then the NEW LAWN section doesn't really apply but all the hints and tips can be invaluable.


The most crucial period in the life of a newly laid lawn is around the first four to eight weeks. During this period, the turf needs time to root itself into the soil. For the first couple of weeks the lawn should not be walked upon unless absolutely necessary (for example, if it needs to be watered) but try to avoid it if you can, and if you must walk on it, laying a few planks of wood over the lawn first and walking on top of them is an alternative which helps reduce the impact.

Please note: cricket, cartwheels and paddling pools are strictly prohibited during this period.


Your grass will continue to keep growing even after the first few days and will get quite long before you can cut it but don’t be tempted! You can only cut the grass once the new turf has rooted otherwise the mower will catch in the grass and pull the turf rolls up.


To test whether the grass is strong enough to be cut first take a corner of the turf and pull on it. If the turf lifts up easily its not ready but if you tug quite hard and it doesn’t lift then the roots have grown long enough and its ready to mow. Yay!


  • Before you cut your grass, make sure the mower is on the highest setting. Cutting the grass too short the first couple of times will damage the delicate new growth.

  • Also make sure the blades of your mower are sharp. If not, they will bruise the new grass and cause the tips to go brown where they have been bruised and torn.

WATERING - what you need to know

Grass is a very thirsty plant and contrary to popular belief a little sprinkling of rain isn’t usually enough. Only if it pours for a few hours will the grass not need watering during the crucial growing period. Even a well-established lawn needs a good soaking during the summer months if it’s been especially hot and sunny.

The soil needs to remain DAMP at all times during the first 2 to 3 weeks and should not be allowed to completely dry out.

Watering should be done daily for the first couple of weeks and a good sprinkler system should be left to soak the grass for between 30 minutes to 1 hour each day, making sure that the entire lawn gets watered, paying special attention to the edges.

If you already have an established lawn a good soak once a week during the height of Summer will do it the world of good. However if you leave it to completely dry out it may look dead ( and ghastly) but the next downpour should see it bounce back to life.

Q; Best time to water your grass?

A: Early morning, around 5am (only joking)

Any time before the sun gets too high in the sky is fine. Aim for somewhere between 7am and 9am for best results.

Watering the grass during the mid day sun is futile. The sun evaporates the water too much and you end up with a large water bill and not much to show for it.

Best watering systems? We highly recommend you purchase a good watering system such as Hozelock. Its our preferred make.

First you need a decent hose. One like this is good >>> https://amzn.to/3gcFY31

And then a sprinkler. The very best sprinkler is the ‘bar’ which gives a really even soaking. We find the round ones a bit naff TBH as they don’t give even coverage So, the bar one is what you need. The link for our favourite one is here>>> https://amzn.to/34dlCnA

Warning: Do NOT leave your hose reel out on the lawn all night. It makes horrid marks on your beautiful new turf that will make you panic, possibly cry.


After the first cut you can feed your lawn. We recommend a liquid based feed which you can simply connect to the end of your hose pipe and water while feeding. Feeding once a month between March and September when your grass is growing will ensure it stays health and green for the entire growing season.

Here is the feed we recommend >>> https://amzn.to/3L358Ps


From October to February your grass will not grow as rapidly, unless we have a very mild Autumn / Winter, so not much needs to be done during this time. Do rake up any excess or fallen leaves and check for moss, which if allowed to spread will eventually take over and kill the grass completely. Moss can be raked out easily and a liquid moss killer applied to rectify the issue.

An ideal leaf rake is lightweight but strong. Plastic ones are best. The traditional metal rakes have a tendency to rip the lawn too much but are good at getting moss up.

Here is a good rake >>>https://amzn.to/3AQpJSx


Unfortunately, we have a very large population of foxes in London and quite often our precious new lawns have to contend with their unwanted attention.

They will sometimes wee in the new lawn creating burnt, dead patches of grass and sometimes try to dig up the new turf. Provided its not too bad the grass will recover but if you see they have flipped any areas of turf up you will need to place it back in position asap. There are various method of fox deterrent and I’ll name a few but one quite simple, very cheap and reasonably good one is to sprinkle pepper or curry powder on the lawn and around all garden borders. Foxes find this very irritating! You will need to do this quite often though, especially when watering as the powder will lose its strength if diluted too much.

There is another option you could try. Lion Poo!

Yep, that’s right. Poo from a Lion.

Basically, the fox, (although it’s aimed at cats so works for both), will be tricked into thinking a huge predator is lurking nearby when he gets a whiff of the stuff and run a mile. Believe it or not you can buy Lion Poo granules on Amazon. It’s called Silent Roar and you can get it here >>>


Note: also good for sprinkling on flower beds to stop cats pooping in your roses

Failing that there is one last option. Get the man of the house to mark his territory. No joke. Just as us ladies gag at the stench of a male urinal, so do foxes ‘apparently’. Just make sure you do it as far away from the house as possible, under cover of dark. (that way your neighbors will be less likely to spot you)

Hopefully we have covered the main growing guides and potential problem areas here but if not, feel free to get in touch. We’ll be happy to help where we can.


Be under no illusion, having a beautiful lush green lawn all year round is not a sit back and watch it grow kind of affair. A gorgeous lawn is high maintenance and (pun intended), you will have your work cut out for you.

During the growing season, which is from March to October you will need a regular cut, feed and trim schedule. Alpha male types seems to take tight control of lawn schedules, (and BBQ's) so let them run with it.

Warning: A combination of overuse (from one family member) and over obsessiveness of Lawn Care (from the opposing family member) can lead to SHOUTING and a total ban on the following: Cartwheeling, Croquet, Hula Hooping, Leapfrog, paddling pools and dance offs.


Keep feeding your lawn once a month between March and September. Best liquid feed link here.

>>> https://amzn.to/3L358Ps


Please invest in a good lawn mower. At the peak of the growing season it may need a weekly cut. If you want a precision cut make sure your mower is not a ‘hover mower’. Ideally it should have a bit of weight to it, at least 3 height settings and a line roller if you feel like being fancy (for those tennis lawn stripes) We recommend this mower as a cheap, cheerful option which does what it says on the tin. If you have more to spend then go for a better one >>> https://amzn.to/3KZ4ClD

If you already have a decent mower, just make sure the blades are sharp as blunt ones will bruise the blades of grass, giving a brownish tip effect. Not the look you want!


Also, if you have a small garden with wooden or metal edging borders, you’ll need to get to that awkwardly long grass that grows right up against them. A decent strimmer is a good shout. See link in mower option >>>https://amzn.to/3KZ4ClD


No edging borders but garden beds? The old fashioned, classic English garden look, my fave. Then you need a robust edging knife to slice into those beds and give a ‘Kew Garden’ finish >>> https://amzn.to/3GiukhE

For more complicated lawn issues seek further expert help from a lawn care specialist.

Alison (that's me) and Muzzy, are the Green Team behind Project Green Thumb, the East London Landscapers.

We know a thing or two about lawns. We have one, have installed many, loving revived a lot and also been through all the pain points mentioned above, including the shouty bits.

If you want to get in touch please email us at eastlondonlandscapers@gmailcom or go to our website from more info www.projectgreenthumb.co.uk

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