Renovation of Lawns

Source(s): Gil Landry, PhD., Coordinator – UGA Center for Urban Agriculture, The University of Georgia.

Renovation of turfgrasses is occasionally necessary in order to produce an attractive, healthy lawn.

Occasionally a lawn will become thin and spotty and, in some cases, large dead areas may appear. These areas are eventually filled in by undesirable plant species (weeds). At this point, the homeowner must decide: (1) if the lawn can be brought back to desired appearance through normal maintenance, (2) if the lawn requires renovation, or (3) if the lawn has to be completely re-established.

First, the cause of the problem must be determined and corrected. Normal decline causes are: (a) improper maintenance practices, (b) use of a grass not adapted to the area, (c) excessive thatch accumulation, (d) severely compacted soil, or (e) disease or insect problems. Your county extension agent can help solve this problem. Once this is resolved, one of the above procedures can be used to improve the lawn. In most cases, renovation is the answer.

Following are the necessary steps in renovation of a home lawn. Lawns with cool-season grasses should be renovated in early fall (August-September), while lawns with warm-season grasses should be renovated in early spring.

Step 1.  Eliminate all undesirable weeds and/or excessive thatch. Weeds can be removed by either chemical or mechanical means, while thatch will require some mechanical means of removal.

Step 2.  Cultivate the soil by aerifying, coring, slicing and/or spiking.

Step 3.  Correct the soil pH and/or salinity (salt accumulation) problem if one exists. If the pH is not suitable for plant growth, it must be changed. Soil test should be taken to determine the pH and fertility level of the soil.

Step 4.  Apply fertilizer as recommended to the area and water. Use a starter fertilizer such as 6-12-12 or 5-10-15 unless soil test shows otherwise. Apply about 20 pounds per 1000 square feet.

Step 5.  If the lawn is overseeded drag, rake or brush the seed down to contact the soil. If the area is planted with vegetative material, place the sprigs in a furrow and lightly topdress.

Step 6.  Whether the lawn is reseeded or planted with vegetative stock, water as soon as possible after planting. Do not allow the newly planted material to become dry. At 3 to 4 weeks after planting, apply 2 to 3 pounds of ammonium nitrate per 1000 square feet to enhance the growth of the new grass. Continue normal mowing practices once the grass reaches 1.5 times its normal mowing height. For more information refer to Cooperative Extension Service Leaflet 263, Renovation of Home Lawns.

Resource(s): Lawns in Georgia

Center Publication Number: 135

Gil Landry
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