Creating a lawn on a sheet of rock

Discussion in 'Lawns' started by JGOF, Feb 14, 2020.

  1. JGOF

    JGOF Apprentice Gardener

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    We cleared a bank beside our house which was making the gable wall damp. The bank was taken down to the same sheet of sandstone that our house was built on. Stupidly, we covered the sheet with soil (see picture) and tried to make it a lawn. But the soil is so damp and boggy that I'm going to have to lift it and put down some base layers that will allow it to drain.

    Any guidance on aggregate depth and layers would be appreciated. I've never done this before and am wary of making a haggis of it!

    JG

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  2. ricky101

    ricky101 Total Gardener

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    Hi,

    Its not quiet clear exactly where you are intending to put the base layers, from the pile of soil towards the trees or from those black bricks by the wall ?

    If your problem is damp, and looking at the area from the wall to the soil piles, it looks quiet flat and level, were it really needs to be a slope away from the wall.
    If you put anything on that area its just going to help retain and hold back any surface water from daining away down that slope.

    If you still want to put a bed down, then suggest you put in some 'french' type drains to ensure the water is taken away from the house walls.

    Again not quiet clear from the pic , but looks like there is already some form of drainage by the house wall where the grey gravel is ? but without being there with a spirit level is difficult to see how the land really slopes.
     
  3. JGOF

    JGOF Apprentice Gardener

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    Thanks for the reply. The 'exposed' area in the picture above is a single sheet of sandstone covered by a thin film of builder's mud. The drain you spotted runs down the side of the hosue to the corner near the camera, then heads to a septic tank just out of the picture (bottom right). But the channel was cut into the sandstone many many decades ago with hand chisels. I suppose I could hire a stone cutter and a jack hammer and cut channels for a french drain but it would be a mammoth task. I was hoping I might be able to raise the ground with aggregate, and lay a lawn on top. Perhaps with drains set into the aggregate.

    Here's a picture taken after we laid it to lawn, and before it turn into a quagmire. It looked terrific until midwinter! My worry is that I invest money and effort into doing entirely the wrong thing - again.

    John



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  4. clanless

    clanless Total Gardener

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    I'm risking being called a heretic - but have you considered artificial grass?

    My neighbour has replaced his front lawn and it does look good.
     
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    • pete

      pete Growing a bit of this and a bit of that....

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      Just a thought.
      Is it always very wet?
      I tend to think its been a pretty wet old winter this year, sometimes places that look like they need draining at time like these can actually be pretty bone dry come summer.

      Builders mud? All I've got in my garden at the moment is mud, but by summer, if we get a normal one, it will be pretty dry.

      In my experience lawns dont like it too well drained, unless you intend watering all the summer.
      Having said that, if its regularly waterlogged, I see your problem.:smile:
       
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      • JGOF

        JGOF Apprentice Gardener

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        Clanless: It crossed my mind but only very briefly. Then my wife said she'd leave if I even considered astroturf. Over the last few years we've enjoyed watching the red squirrels taking nuts from the feeder and burying them under the moss on our lawn. I suspect they'd leave as well.

        When I said the lawn "looked terrific until midwinter", I should have said until the first midwinter. Ever since then, seven years ago, it has been a squelchy bog regardless. For eight months of the year, I wouldn't set foot on it without wellies.

        I was thinking about trying this (below) ... the sheet of bedrock, topped with 20-40mm rock, topped with 10-20mm gravel, topped with the topsoil. The water could happily sit in the aggregate below the topsoil, evaporating/draining in its own time. I estimate that I'll need 50 tons of aggregate to raise the soil by 6 inches, which is no small investment itself, never mind the effort to cart it in and spread it out. Is it madness? Or is it worth trying?

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        • Fat Controller

          Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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          I think you are on the right path there @JGOF - sandstone as you know is sort of porous, but it takes a long time for water to wick its way through it, and more often than not it runs off. By adding the aggregate levels, you would at least aid that process by allowing it to flow through the aggregate.

          It does look as though the level of your lawn has been dug down at one point? Was it once much higher and perhaps held by retaining walls with paths around the house? My thinking here is that by digging down, a sort of 'bowl' has been created which in turn stops the water running off.

          What surrounds your property? Is there a way for the water to naturally run off if the lawn level was higher?
           
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          • JGOF

            JGOF Apprentice Gardener

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            The ground level was four or five foot higher when we bought the house. In the top image, the ground level (at the top of the wall of stones) maintained that height to the black bucket. When our place was built, pre-1800, they cut into the bank to site the house and left a gap of only three feet at the gable. So we took it away to let the house breathe a little. It was fairly solid ground and required a pecker to break it out. I'm glad we did it but sorry we took it down to bedrock!

            The sandstone has a very slight dish in the middle (shown by the red oval) which creates the softest patch of grass today. Otherwise there's a slope away onto lower ground at the arrows, which begins at the base of the arrows. Otherwise it's pretty flat. It's the area between the arrows and the house that bothers us most. The gravel path by the house doesn't flood, regardless how wet the "lawn" gets, so I'm thinking that, if I raise the lawn a bit, there's no reason for the water to drain towards the house any more than than it does at the moment.

            I can't get a heavy truck past the front of the house so I'll have to ask the neighbouring farmer if I can dump 50 tons at his place and hire a dumper truck. Between the cost of the aggregate (£1100) plus digger (£55 per day) and dumper hire (£125 per day), it's mounting up - I'd prefer to get it right (this time).

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            • Fat Controller

              Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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              I'd be inclined to get a bit more advice locally before you press on, although I do still think you are on the right track using aggregate courses underneath. I don't know if it is still under the same ownership (I moved away 20 years ago) but the chap that owns the garden centre at Heathhall was always pretty good at giving advice in this sort of area.

              Another random suggestion - try speaking to the folks who are in charge of the golf course at Heathhall and at the Crichton as both of those have their own unique problems when it comes to draining water away; maybe they could offer some words of wisdom.

              The whole area is the same as you probably know, that is why you have a lot of boggy land that could never sensibly be built on.
               
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              • JGOF

                JGOF Apprentice Gardener

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                That's a sensible suggestion. I didn't know who to ask for advice - hence this thread. As far as I know the Heathhall Garden Centre is in the same hands, and I might print off a few pictures and do the rounds of the local golf courses.
                 
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                • Fat Controller

                  Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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                  I wish I could remember his name, but he was always well respected for his advice. Another really curve-ball suggestion - Willie Johnson that works for the BBC (used to be on Radio Solway, but I think he does local news now), he lives (may have moved) out in the Cargen Glen just off the Castle Douglas Road (I'd guess about a mile or so past where the new hospital is), and Cargen Glen was the same. If you could find a way to speak with him, he might know of someone that could help - quite an approachable chap.
                   
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                  • JGOF

                    JGOF Apprentice Gardener

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                    I'm sure he'd be easy to track down. Heathhall has branch office in Moffat and they'd know. Willie J - now retired - is an old friend. We used to be colleagues. I'll ask him. Thanks for the pointers.

                    John
                     
                  • Fat Controller

                    Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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                    Small world. I never thought that Willie would be retired, but then I forget that things have moved on 20 years since I was last there.

                    Best of luck.
                     
                  • Selleri

                    Selleri Super Gardener

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                    It would be very sad indeed to lose those squirrels :cry3:

                    :sofa: anyways I wanted to say thanks for an interesting thread and compliments on the excellent photo editing to illustrate very clearly the situation. What programme are you using? Sorry for the off topic.


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                  • Fat Controller

                    Fat Controller 'Cuddly' Scottish Admin! Staff Member

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                    @Selleri - give Paint.net a try, it is free, highly versatile and easy to use.
                     
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