Deciding whether to renovate your lawn or scrap it and start all over again is one of the most difficult decisions you will ever have to make as a lawn owner. Usually, if half of your lawn is grass, then you will want to renovate your lawn. However, if the lawn if overrun completely by weeds or has other serious problems, then it is recommended to address those first.
The best time to germinate seeds is in late summer and fall because the temperatures are usually perfect and the grass won’t face any competition from weeds as it would in early summer and spring. Even lawn professionals have a difficult time keeping weed out in the spring.
Before we proceed any further, let us just mention that there is no ultimate secret to seeding a lawn. Water is the closest thing that will help you to guarantee success.
The seeded ground needs enough moisture for germination to take place. Here are the steps you need to follow to ensure successful lawn renovation.
1. Remove the weeds
This step is important in keeping other species away, thus preventing competition for nutrients. The best way to eliminate weeds and turf is by using non-selective herbicides that contain glyphosate as an active ingredient (Round-up or any other cheaper generic brand). Other herbicides you can use include glufosinate (Finale) or Scythe, an herbicidal soap formulation. Avoid walking on the grass until the herbicide dries.
Most herbicides will allow you to seed your lawn in 7 days. But it is always recommended to read the instructions on the label of the product you are using. Don’t use selective lawn weed killers as most of these prevent your seeds from germinating for 3 to 6 weeks.
If the weeds have grown all over the lawn, spray everything. But if only a few patches of the stubborn weed exist, only spray those weeds. Soon, you will see them yellowing and dying.
Once all the weeds have died, mow the area you want to renovate. This is important in ensuring that the seeds make contact with the soil.
2. Fill in any low spots or holes
You need to make sure that you take care of the holes before you start replanting. This is the perfect time to remove low spots and ensure that other drainage problems are taken care of.
3. Amend the topsoil
- Use biosolid fertilizers as they add organic matter to the soil and are inexpensive
- Add pH adjusting products like Solu-cal or lime to raise the pH of the soil if needed
- If you have clay soil, add Solu-cal S or Gypsum to condition
- Also, add quality animal manure
You can amend the sandy soil by incorporating a small amount of organic material or clay to enhance nutrient- and water-holding capacity. Apply a high phosphorous fertilizer and pH modifiers based on the information you get from your soil test
4. Choose the right type of grass
The variety and species of grass you choose will depend on:
- Shade and sun
- Drought tolerance
- Resistance to diseases and insects
- The quality of sod you expect
- The amount of work you want to do to maintain the lawn
Avoid cheap blends of seed. You always get what you pay for and the same applies to grass seeds. You should also avoid mixes with noxious weed content, annual grasses and unnamed varieties of seed. Usually, any mix of words such as tough, contractors, fast and quick are products that you will want to avoid because they are usually low end. Always remember that if the product is less expensive than all the others, then you probably wouldn’t want to buy it.
5. Prepare the soil
You also need to prepare the soil somehow. Use a slice seeder or aerator. You can actually rent these tools at most rental shops. You will also want to reserve them early so that when the seeding season arrives, you will have the tools you need.
If you will be using an aerator, don’t be afraid to open up the lawn. Go in two to three different directions.
If you will be using a slice seeder, only go half rate in two directions and use a spreader on the barest area to get a uniform look.
It is important that your seed at the right rate. For larger seeds, the seeding rate should be higher. Several studies have shown that there are no advantages that come with seeding more than the rate recommended. Excessive seeding increases competition for nutrients between the seedlings. On the other hand, seeding at a slightly lower rate or the correct rate encourages tillering.
If you are reseeding around corners and mailboxes or small patches, then you will want to use the garden weasel. It is a versatile tool that every gardener should own. It roughs tight spots and small areas quickly, allowing you to make good soil to seed contact.
6. Rake in the seed lightly
Mix the seed and soil in bare spots so that the seed is not covered more than 0.0625 inches. You can use the back edge of your plastic leaf rake without exerting pressure to it.
7. Roll the soil
You should only roll the soil if there are lots of bare spots when compared to grass you renovated. The advantage of light rolling is that it ensures good contact between the seed and soil for the seeds to absorb the moisture and germinate. Sometimes you don’t even need to fill it with water. Only the weight of the rollers will work for you.
8. Mulch bare spots
Use marsh hay or weed-free straw to prevent erosion and conserve moisture. Other materials you can use for mulching include products made from paper mallets, wood fiber and other types of erosion-control blankets. Products that are made from a combination or water-absorbing gel and pelletized paper hold water better and are highly effective. In addition, they are green and don’t require raking. PennMulch even contains started fertilizer on it.
If you have slopes that you want to protect, the erosion blankets are a great option. After seeding, you simply need to roll out the erosion blanket and staple it down. As the grass grows through the blanket, it starts decomposing.
9. Water your lawn
You need to water the seeds and young seedlings quickly; otherwise, they will dry out. Always ensure that the seedbeds are moist. But you should only add enough water to moisten the soil surface. Avoid overwatering as this will make the soil waterlogged. Reduce the water gradually after the emergence of the seedlings to encourage deeper rooting. When the grass covers half of the ground, allow the surface to dry.
10. Apply fertilizer
Four to five weeks after seeding, apply 1 lb. N/1,000 square feet. This is important in increasing color, shoot density and the ability of the seedlings to withstand diseases such as rust.
11. Mow the lawn
When more than 60% of the grass reaches 2 to 3 inches (which is the recommended mowing height), start mowing. The main reason why you need to mow the grass is that it encourages lateral shoot development, helps the grass to outcompete the weeds and increases stand density. Ensure that your mower’s blades are sharp. Using dull blades will only tear the young seedlings.
After mowing the lawn, you can safely use the weed control products. However, you should be careful because there are young seedlings in the lawn that are prone to injury.
Hi guys! My name is Don and I have been taking care of many lawns across the country for more than 5 years now. Before I hit the road myself, I worked at a lawn care service company where I mastered handling different lawn tools as well. Now, don’t fall back right away even if you are not a lawn guru or a pro. I will be right here – at your service 24/7 to teach you everything about lawn care. Stay tuned for the updates if your goal is to enjoy luscious, deep green grass in your backyard almost all year round. Oh, you can find me on Twitter as well! Happy reading!