Getting Started on Your Lawn Renovation

Complete Lawn Renovation is a great option for anyone looking to start their lawn anew. It can be done to remedy a very sparse grass or to change turf type. If you have decided to renovate, then you’re in luck! Here we have a step-by-step guide to teach you how to completely renovate a lawn. These techniques can be used on parts of a lawn or the entire thing to completely transform it. Even though some of these steps to lawn renovation are optional, make sure you read thoroughly so that you can make the best decisions for your lawn.

Timing Your Lawn Renovation

Lawn renovation is a bit of a lengthy process. Getting the timing right will ensure that your lawn looks its best at the correct times. The best time to start for cool-season grass is around mid to late august. Cool-season grass grows very actively during the autumn, so planting right before this period will help to speed up the process. Warm-season grasses grow most actively during the summer, so for them, mid-spring is the best time to renovate.

Lawn Renovation Step 1: Getting a Soil Test

Soil tests are the best way to learn what your soil needs. This step is not essential for the lawn renovation process but will ensure that your lawn remains healthy after the renovation. Getting a test can be done by contacting your county’s extension office and purchasing a test. Although the price for these tests varies by state, county, and the type of test you buy, it generally ranges from $10 – $95. These tests can analyze your soil’s pH and nutrient levels and also recommend plants and grasses. These tests can help you understand your lawn’s needs and ways to provide for it accordingly.

Lawn Renovation Step 2: Killing Weeds + Grass

Killing the existing vegetation is the mandatory step for a complete lawn renovation. Choose a non-selective herbicide, such as Round-up, Eraser, or Avenger to spray throughout your entire yard. Less invasive lawn renovation would usually use selective herbicides like Weed-B-Gon, but if you want an entirely new turf type, all the existing vegetation has to go. The process of killing the grass and weeds will take time and may even require several sprays of the herbicide. Once your grass is brown and comes out of the soil with ease, it is properly dead. Keeping your soil moist will keep it healthy and will allow dead grass to be pulled out more easily.

Written by

Erica Infanger

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Lawn Renovation Step 3: Aerate Your Lawn

While not required, you may want to do something while you wait for all the vegetation to die. If you’d like, you can take this opportunity to core aerate. This process takes small cores out of the soil, which helps minimize compaction. This will allow for better drainage and deeper, healthier grassroots. To aerate your soil, there are both machine and manual devices to help you. Both work the same way in that they extract cores from the soil. Aeration also allows water and nutrient to seep deeper into the soil. Generally speaking, the more you aerate, the better.

Lawn Renovation Step 4: Remove Debris

Once all the vegetation on your lawn dies, you will need to remove it. This is a lengthy process, but you may find a lawn mower useful. Using a low setting on your mower and a bag attachment will be quicker than removing the vegetation by hand. Rakes or dethatching rakes may also be helpful for digging up grass that the mower missed. Using these tools in sections will be the most efficient, but do note that this is the most labor-intensive part of the renovation process.

Lawn Renovation Step 5: Add Soil Amendments

Soil amendments are another optional step. If you decided to get a soil test for your lawn, then this step will offer you a chance to use the knowledge you learned from them. There are different soil amendments for different problems. Common soil amendments include compost, peat moss, lime, etc. While fertilizer is usually a good option for everyone, compost can also help to improve your soil’s texture and microbiome. Alternatively, if your soil is particularly acidic, lime will help raise its pH. Also, if you plan to lawn level, do so during this step.

Especially after using herbicides, it is important to add these amendments before you seed. This will ensure that grasses grow in prime conditions. When using these soil amendments, remember that too much of them can do more harm than good. Sandier soils will not need the same amount of added material as ones heavier in clay. Additionally, using too much compost or peat overtop grass can smother it, and raising the soil’s pH too much makes it harder for grasses to absorb nutrients. However, the right amendments in the right quantities will allow your lawn to thrive.

Lawn Renovation Step 6: Plant Your Grass Seed

Because of the use of herbicides, you will need to wait a few weeks after the vegetation has died for them to wear off. Most herbicides will have seeding instructions to tell you how long to wait; most say four weeks, but some less potent ones wear off after only two weeks. If you seed help choosing a turf type, refer to our article on Choosing a Grass Seed. To sow your grass seeds, you will need a properly prepared seed bed, water, and the seeds themselves. Most grasses will have instructions on the amount needed per square foot, so refer to the bag. Do not use more than the instructed amount, as it will not allow the grass to spread out as it grows. If you are renovating your entire lawn, consider getting a seed spreader to save time.

Once you spread the seeds, mix them in gently with a rake or your hands and pat them into the soil. The seeds do not need to be pushed in deep into the soil; as long as the seeds make good contact with the soil, they will be able to germinate. Optionally, you can cover the seeds with a thin layer of organic matter, which will make it harder for birds and squirrels to eat them.

Lawn Renovation Step 7: Plant Your Grass Seed

After seeding, the last step is to wait and care for the little seedlings. Different grass types will take different amounts of time to germinate and grow. On average, germination will happen after ten to fourteen days with adequate moisture. After germination, the grass will reach its full height in about thirty days. Makes sure to take care of this new grass so that you will not renovate again. Dressing your lawn with compost or aerating it may help if your soil is becoming compacted. Whatever you do to your lawn, take note of how it responds. Knowing what your lawn needs will help you best provide for it.

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Bahiagrass is warm-season grass.