Put The Spring Back Into Your Old Lawn

If your lawn has deteriorated to the point where it doesn't respond to routine practices (fertilizing, watering, weed control) , it's probably time to renovate. Renovating puts the life back into your lawn without you having to completely rebuild it.

You could hire a lawn company that specializes in this kind of service, or you could do-it-yourself, and rent the equipment. In any case, renovation is a chance to improve the overall quality of your lawn.

If you plan to do-it-yourself, begin by applying a translocating non-selective herbicide on the old grass, leaving sufficient time for the chemicals to work. Always read the label carefully and be sure the materials you use are safe to apply around trees and shrubs. Never use pre-emergent weed controls, unless specifically recommended, prior to re-seeding, and make sure the chemicals you use leave no residue that may harm young grasses.

The next step is to use a renovator (dethatching machine) to remove as much thatch as possible. A renovator slices through the dead grass to allow seed, water and fertilizer access to the soil. For best results, make sure the grass is damp, never dry or soaking wet, and go over your lawn twice in opposite directions. It takes about 2 hours to totally dethatch a 1,000 sq. ft. lawn.

After dethatching, thoroughly rake and dispose of any of the loose debris left by renovating (don't be surprised if there is a lot) . This ensures good contact between seed and soil. Because thatch decomposes slowly, it's not a good idea to use it as mulch.

Follow with aerating your old lawn. Aerating is a simple process of punching holes into the turf to allow moisture, oxygen and nutrients to penetrate the soil. It also helps to break up thatch residues which discourages root growth and water absorption.

Both power and manual aerators are available, but power aerators are quicker, easier and all around more efficient. Whichever the type, aeration holes should penetrate 2-4 inches into the soil.

Aerate when the lawn is damp. Remove the soil cores by raking, or shred with a rotary mower, and use a rake to level spots left uneven. If your lawn has high and low spots, add top soil, or peat moss and sand, and level with a rake. It may be necessary to flatten high spots with a steel rake, or level and break up the turf cores by dragging a metal mat over your lawn. If liming is a way of life in your area, this is the time to do it.

Fertilizers are an important part of the renovation process and can be applied with several different types of applicators. Walk-behind broadcasters and drop-spreaders are usually the most accurate of all the applicators and they're available to rent. Ask us to show you how to calibrate how much fertilizer the drop-spreader will apply at one time.

If a good percentage of desirable grasses are present, it may not be necessary to reseed, just fertilize and water heavily. If you do seed, or use sprigs or stolons, follow the proper application procedures. Lawn seeders can be rented to make sure the grass seed is distributed evenly.

After planting, keep grass seeds, sprigs or stolons moist until they've become established (the frequency of your watering depends upon the weather). Once the young grass has grown a third taller than its optimum height, mow it, but not too close to the ground. Then once your lawn is established, resume regular lawn care.