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We took up the paving slabs and put down a new lawn in our tiny city garden 18 months ago. It's survived, and even done pretty wlel, but I wouldnt go so far as to say it's flourished. In particular, it has a tendency to go a bit thin and patchy. We aerate etc and mow when we should (just about). We overseeded last spring and I will need to again, imminently. It wasnt enormously successful last year.
what seed/species should I use? In winter the lawn is very damp, and in summer it gets very dry. One half of it gets a lot more sun than the other. We don't have dogs or children so it doesnt need to be particularly hard wearing.
You said you lifted paving to do the lawn, so I'd guess the ground underneath may not have been great unless you forked in some new soil and compost. It would also have been compacted. You can help that by aerating , as you've said, and if you sweep some fine grit or coarse sand into the holes as well, that will keep the structure more open and help prevent it getting compacted in future. If it's a bit shady, it might be better using a seed mix specifically for those conditions, and you could add some compost or topsoil first and rake it level before sowing. A spring feed will help, and it might be worth trying that first, as it may just be that the grass needs a little boost. Most lawns look a bit tired and jaded at this time of year. A bit like gardeners!
you may find the last owners gave up with grass which is why they put done paving!
Maybe try artificial grass? How big is the patch?
what was under the slabs, concrete or sharp sand or a mix of both?
You sound like you've done all the right things jack. As you say, the conditions are going to make it difficult for a lawn to be at it's best. If you're keen to keep it you'll just have to accept that it's going to need a bit of maintenance. If you think the space can stand it - you've said it's a small space - perhaps you could take the shadiest section away and plant that up instead. It would be a shame to pave it over again as a green space is always preferable, but sometimes grass is more trouble than it's worth in small areas. Greenery is always a better solution, and plants won't necesssarily be more work than grass which people often assume. If you get tired of grass you'll get plenty of ideas here for an alternative.