How to Renovate Your Lawn

What you’ll need

  • lawn mower
  • power rake
  • core aerator
  • spreader
  • straw (or other mulch cover)
  • garden hose

step 1: Evaluate Your Existing Lawn

Determine whether renovation is the right treatment for your troubled lawn. If your property slopes toward the foundation of your house or the condition of your soil is so poor it can’t support a healthy lawn, consider grading, which is a step beyond renovation. But if your soil is in good condition—well-drained, level and loose—and only your grass is unhealthy or overrun with perennial weeds, renovation can produce the beautiful new lawn you’re after.

step 2: Skip A Mowing

Before you can plant a new lawn, you need to kill the existing grass. We recommend spraying your lawn with  weed killer . Since it is a non-selective herbicide, the leaves of the grass and weeds will absorb it, therefore you want the grass blades to be longer to absorb the product more easily.

step 3: Kill the Existing Lawn

Use an appropriate applicator and spray the entire lawn with the herbicide product, making sure to follow product recommendations. Wait 7 to 10 days, then spray it again. This will ensure that all grass and vegetation is eliminated from the lawn.

step 4: Cultivate the Soil

Using a power rake, reach through the thatch and into the soil. Rake the lawn twice, the second time at a right angle to the first. Make sure the soil is well exposed, since new seeds need to have good contact with soil. Remove all dead vegetation from the lawn. Aerate heavily compacted lawns before spreading seed. Use a core aerator and rake out the cores. The ideal seedbed is composed of soil particles from pea to marble size, to create a good lodging place and protection for the seeds. A common mistake is to work the soil too finely, so that after watering the surface tends to crust over and dry out quickly.

step 5: Check the Soil

You can skip this step if you believe that your soil is adequate to grow a quality lawn, or to save time. You can test your soil using a soil test kit from your local garden center. It will tell you if you need to add any amendments to your soil or if you need to lower or raise your soil’s pH level.

step 6: Spread the Seed

Choose a high-quality grass seed, that suits your region. You should also consider your needs and preferences such as how much sun the lawn will receive, the type of traffic the lawn receives and how much maintenance you are willing to do. Once you select your seed, follow instructions and sow the seed at the rate indicated for starting. Apply a starter fertilizer to help with germination.

step 7: Spread Mulch

Spread a layer of mulch, such as straw, over the entire seed area. The mulch will help keep the area moist and protect the seed from birds that like to eat the seed.

step 8: Water

In order for grass seed to germinate properly, it needs a lot of water. Be sure to water several times a day to keep soil moist. Once green seedlings have appeared, cut back your watering schedule, but make sure your new lawn gets plenty of water in its first month.

step 9: Maintenance

Mow new grass for the first time when it has grown one-third higher than the suggested mowing height. Sharpen mower blades first, as a dull mower blade can pull out young grass blades, which haven’t established a strong root system just yet. After the grass has been mowed four times, you should begin an Annual Lawn Care Program for your lawn.

TIP: Early fall is the single most important time to fertilize a lawn and plant grass seed. If you fertilize only once, focus on fall.