Orchid in flower, Hodbarrow RSPB reserve, Millom, Cumbria, England

How to restore a neglected lawn

Old neglected lawns can potentially be very rich in wildlife, such as orchids.

Tips to maintain valuable old lawns

If you move into a house with what appears to be a neglected lawn, think carefully before taking any drastic measures to restore it to what you perceive as a valuable lawn. 

  • After a few cuts with a lawn mower, the grass should start responding. Remove the thatch by raking it off. Any developing scrub will give up with persistent cutting.
  • Try to retain anthills. These small mounds provide ideal conditions for wild annual plants to grow, a place for insects to bask and a source of food for birds. They may benefit from some restoration by opening up the grass around them.
  • Keep some bramble if it present - it is a valuable refuge and food source for wildlife. Bramble usually benefits from being cut right down to the ground every few years to encourage new stems to grow. Keep it in check to stop it spreading.
  • Where it is necessary to level uneven ground, use soil from any high spots to fill the hollow or collect soil from a border. Rake the area level and sprinkle grass seed on top. Alternatively, remove turf from an unwanted area to finish the job.