A healthy lawn is a sight for sore eyes. You can undertake a lawn restoration project after you move into a new house, are renovating your old house, or have neglected your lawn over the past few months. We’ve broken down how to restore your lawn into a few simple steps, so keep reading for all the tips and tricks:
1. Analyze the Situation.
Before beginning your lawn restoration project, you need to define the current state of your lawn. Here are a few things to look at:
Lawn thatch is a layer between the plants and the soil consisting mostly of stems, dead grass, and roots that have not decomposed yet. This layer should not be more than ½ an inch as it could suffocate your grass and ruin it.
If thatch is present in patches in your lawn, you’ll notice that the patches with a thick layer will develop a spongy consistency. Your lawnmower may sink into the soil in these patches, which is often the first sign. You need to remove thatch in order to restore your lawn.
If you see patches of dirt between your grass, that is the first sign of weed. If you do not fix the patches on time, weed will spread. Your lawn will be lost if weeds spread to more than 50% of the lawn. Identify the weeds and deal with them promptly.
Weed spread can also occur if your grass has weak or shallow roots. Healthy grass needs around 6-inch-long roots, or it will be unable to reach the necessary nutrients in the soil.
Grubs and Other Pests
You know there are grubs in your lawn when your grass starts turning brown and is pulled up easily in the summer months. You may also notice animals like raccoons trying to dig up your lawn. Grubs can be an annoyance, especially when you are restoring your lawn.
They feed on the roots of grass and can cause a lot of damage. Grubs are white in color with a brown head and curl into a ‘C’ shape. To confirm whether there are grubs in your lawn, dig up several pieces of soil. If you find five or fewer grubs per square foot, there is no need for control measures.
Keep an eye out for any dips or depressions in the ground and any bumps that rise up. They will have to be leveled when you restore your lawn.
2. Scarify the Lawn
Depending on the condition of your lawn, you may have to be prepared to start from scratch. Scarifying the lawn involves removing unwanted weeds, dead grass, or any other form of thatch.
Firstly, cut the grass to around an inch in height to make dethatching easier. Use a wire-tined lawn rake yourself or hire a professional to scarify your lawn. Your goal is to rip the thatch and weed that you identified from the ground so that your grassroots can get the nutrients they need.
When removing weed clusters by hand, you need to pull them out with their roots; otherwise, they will grow again. Make sure you throw them away in the trash or they may get re-planted if you leave them near the lawn.
Use weed killer sprays directly on weeds at least three weeks prior to beginning the setup of your new lawn. Avoid spraying on grass as weed killers can be harmful to them.
3. Fill Hollows and Flatten Bumps
While you are in the process of removing thatch and weed from your lawn, mark out any bumps and hollows (we recommend using a latex spray paint) to fix later.
You can level hollows by using a mixture of compost and topsoil as topdressing. If conditions are awful, you might have to lay out the soil from scratch.
To smooth bumps, use a spade to raise your sod so that you can remove soil from under it as needed. Make sure that you cut a significant portion of sod rather than smaller pieces as they could dry out. Press the sod back into place and soak it with water.
Walking, playing or any other activity on the lawn can compress the soil. A compact soil will lose its ability to hold oxygen, causing your plants and grass to be unhealthy. Giving your soil space to absorb oxygen is a key step in lawn restoration. Before aerating your soil, make sure it is moist.
You can use power and hand tools are available for this process.
You can use a garden fork to spike your lawn at frequent distances at a depth of around 5 inches. You can also attach spiked sandals to your boots. You can then walk around your yard as you restore your lawn!
We recommend using core aerators as they take the soil out from the ground and deposit it on top, unlike spike aerators. You can also change the size of the plugs as you wish.
5. Measure and Adjust the pH Level
You can easily buy a pH testing kit online or from your local gardening store. To measure the pH level of your soil:
- Dig a tiny hole in the ground and pour distilled water (neutral pH) in it.
- Wait for a minute, then stick your test strip in the water.
- Wait for the results.
The ideal pH level is 6.5. If your lawn is run down, it is unlikely to have the perfect pH level. Don’t worry; you can easily restore its pH level!
If your soil is acidic (has a pH level below 6.5), you can use dolomitic or calcitic limestone to increase its pH level. Water the soil so that the limestone can be absorbed. Follow the instructions on the package to spread the limestone.
If your soil’s pH is too alkaline (pH over 6.5), we recommend adding sulfur. Follow the instructions on the package to decide how much to use.
6. Restore Your Lawn By Planting Seeds
Grass seeds are inexpensive and readily available. Choose seeds that are the best for your area and are weed-free.
Autumn and spring are the ideal time to seed and restore your lawn. There are many ways to plant seeds:
Use Your Hands
This is the cheapest option. If you’re an experienced gardener, you can use your hands to evenly spread the seeds across the lawn. However, this process can be slow, and you might end up missing some spots or clustering too many seeds in one place.
Use a Handheld Spreader
This is a relatively cheap and affordable option if you don’t trust your hands to do the job accurately. It’s more suitable for small yards that require more attention.
A slit seeder is a special machine that slits your soil and spreads seeds in the gaps. This leads to better growth and protects the seeds as they are dropped deeper into the ground. This option is more expensive, but a lot more accurate and suitable for large lawns.
7. Water Regularly and Fertilize
Water the grass at least twice a week or more. We recommend you water it daily until you restore your lawn grass height to about 2 inches. The amount of water that your lawn needs depends on the climate of the region and the type of soil and grass in your garden. The ideal amount is 1.5 inches of water per week.
Do not let your soil dry out, as that will cause the seeds to not germinate and eventually die out. We recommend that you avoid walking over the seeded area, other than once to fertilize, as this could hinder germination.
Spread fertilizer that also has anti-weed properties over your new lawn grass. Make sure that your fertilizer contains phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen.
8. Don’t Stop Mowing
Many people leave their grass to grow over winter and then mow it down once spring starts to come around. This is not a good idea and can harm the health of your grass.
Mow at least once every other week in the cooler months and once a week in summer. Mowing will allow your grass to stay healthy and grow quicker.
It can be hard work to restore your lawn, but a healthy yard can be a great source of relaxation and fun for the family. Once you are done with your lawn restoration project, we recommend decorating your lawn by restoring old furniture or planting flowers!