Steps in Repairing Lawns: Corrects only those areas that need work.
Steps in Lawn Renovation: involves killing off the entire lawn and reseeding the lawn.
Restablishing a Lawn: involves not only the complete removal of the existing lawn, adding soil amendments and re-grading the lawn prior to either installing sod, sprigs, plugs, or reseeding.
If you just look at your lawn and wonder what ever happened to the American dream of a perfect lawn, there's hope, especially if you live where cool season grasses rule.
Not every lawn needs a complete renovation or lawn re-establishment as described here. Some lawns need just a little loving care for a few seasons and some repair work.
For cool season lawns and planting seed, early fall is the perfect time for a complete lawn renovation. If planting a warm season grass by seed, spring is the best time. If laying new sod, plugs or sprigs, almost anytime during the growing season. Here are the six steps you'll need to follow.
Before you get into removing the old lawn, do some investigative work. First, make sure the existing soil is up to par with adequate nutrients and a proper pH that is ideal for growing grass. This is best done with a soil test. You can obtain a kit from your local home & garden center or nursery. Even better is to send a sample of soil out to have it completely tested by a laboratory. Check with your local extension service. They'll probably give you a mail-in kit that will take about 2 weeks or so.
Once you get the soil test done you'll know exactly what you have to do to make it the best possible place to grow a great looking lawn.
Pre-order whatever amendments the test call for in large enough quantities to fill the bill. Schedule delivery so that it arrives after you complete Step 2.
Remove existing lawn right down to the bare soil. This is best done with a sod cutter you can rent for about $75 or so a day. This is not easy work, but is possible for a person of average strength and a little help from family members to help haul away the remains of the old lawn.
Remove rocks and exposed roots that you can see. Dig up all the large visible rocks. If tree roots are a problem, you can cut a few out to put them down below soil level. Fill in holes and depressions with additional topsoil.
With the sod removed and taken away from the site, rocks removed, holes filled, you'll want to start adding the necessary amendments. You'll probably want to add some sand (about 3 cubic yards per 1,000 square feet).
To better condition the soil, add aged compost. This will add a lot of bio-mass to the soil (about 3 cubic yards per 1,000 square feet).
With a rotary tiller, turn the soil until there are no big clumps or patches of packed earth. A tiller can be rented for about $50 a day. Look for the type where the rotating tines are in the rear.
Next adding lime, peat moss, or sulfur to balance the soil's pH level.
Spread the peat moss with a shovel. Using pelletized lime or sulfur, spread with a walk-behind spreader set to the appropriate calibration rate listed for your spreader.
Next spread a starter fertilizer to the entire area and using a metal rake, work the fertilizer just into the surface. Finish grading the soil by raking it level. Pay attention to drainage slopes being careful not to alter the natural drainage pattern.
Select a grass-seed type suitable for your area and purchase enough to cover the square footage. Using a simple hand spreader, apply the seed as evenly as possible. For larger areas, use a walk behind spreader.
Once the seed has been applied, take a leaf-type rake, turn it upside down and gently work the seeds into the soil. Use short light strokes and not long sweeping motions. The seed only needs to be worked into the top 1/4" of soil. No need to pack it down with a roller.
Once the seed is sown, you want to lightly water the area with an oscillating type of sprinkler— don't just spray with the lawn with a hose nozzle. Gentle is the key word.
For the first 10 days or so, water 2 — 3 times a day to keep the soil evenly moist, but not soaked. Avoid over watering at all costs.
Once the seed has sprouted, cut back watering to once a day (depending on local weather). It's best to water in the morning.
You can start mowing after the new grass has grown to about 2-1/2", being very careful not to make sharp turns that could damage the soft soil. Never cut the new grass when the soil is wet.
A second fertilizer application can be put down just before Thanksgiving. Don't worry about any weeds that appear, they can be taken care of in the spring.