Posted: 24/09/2014 at 08:45
Unless you can afford to have someone come and lift and reseed or turf that lawn for you I would just start routine lawn maintenance and try and improve it that way. Lifting turf is a nightmare especially on wet clay with roots in. It is the perfect time of year to do some routine lawn maintenance in preparation for next year. Mow it, scarify it, aerate it and brush in coarse sand from B & Q or somewhere. You can also do an Autumn feed (make sure it's labelled as Autumn feed) as the lawn will look a lot better next Spring. All this will improve drainage for next year. Our lawn is also on heavy clay and this has been what I've done for the past two Autumns to improve drainage and the quality is much better. It has some clover in but I don't mind that, keeps it nice and green and springy in Summer and feeds the grass with nitrogen fixed from the air. Keeping the original lawn for the time being will save time, money and give your girl's somewhere to play over Winter.
They had a willow removed from this garden before we moved in just over a year ago and the roots do rot quickly in clay but due to other tree roots I was still using a saw to get a small pre-moulded pond in. Willows suck up lots of water so while it is probably reducing a water logging situation in the garden (as I think the one here was) they can play havoc with drains and house foundations so shouldn't be planted too close to buildings.
I quite like that paved grid bit it would make a good veg/herb garden! You can get some cheap bulbs and pots from Wilkos at this time of year which you can plant up with your girls for flowers in Spring.