The health of your lawn depends on both how well it can retain and drain water. Obviously, grass needs water to survive, it needs the right amount and too much can impede oxygen uptake, slow metabolic processes and encourage root rot.
The type of soil you have below your lawn will directly impact upon the lawn’s ability to drain. If the soil is clay based then it may drain too slowly, becoming boggy and slippery. If the soil is sandy then it may drain too quickly leaching away crucial nutrients.
Soil compaction can also affect the drainage of your lawn – if your lawn is heavily compacted then water is unable to move through the soil freely and it will just sit on the surface.
Firstly you should check to see if your lawn does have a drainage issue. Dig a hole 30cm wide and 60 cm deep – half fill with water. Check back in a day – if the hole is empty then you have good drainage. If there is more than half (or even the same) amount of water then you have some serious drainage issues.
An existing subsurface drainage system will need a professional check to see if it’s blocked. A badly designed or incorrectly installed system could be the issue, or soil and other objects can also block drains. If you consistently have large puddles on your lawn and no drainage system, then it is always possible to install one on an existing lawn to divert rainwater.
Otherwise, your soil is most likely the factor causing drainage problems. Lawn aeration is an important part of correcting the issue as removing cores of soil adds air pockets, and these help the lawn to drain more freely. You can improve the soil quality long term for both sandy and clay soils by adding organic matter in the form of compost or topsoil. Organic matter will aid both water retention and drainage.