The Dirt on Lawn Renovation
Fall is the perfect time to rehabilitate your lawn. Lawn renovation can give your landscape the boost it needs to survive the winter and come back stronger than ever in the spring. It eradicates weeds, improves nutrition, and establishes new grass in areas that badly need it. If you would like a vibrant, healthier lawn, then lawn renovation might be exactly what you’ve been looking for.
How do I know if I need to renovate my lawn?
You are a good candidate for lawn renovation if:
- 20-40% of your lawn is bare, dead, or covered by weeds
- Thatch – the organic layer of decomposing stems and roots at the soil surface – is greater than ½” thick
When is turf renovation a bad idea?
If your lawn has severe issues, it may be past the point of restoration and in need of replacement. If you have any of the following problems, consult a landscape professional before you waste precious time and energy trying to restore your lawn:
- Over 50% of the lawn is dead or covered in weeds
- Soil is unreasonably compacted
- Previous efforts to alleviate thatch have been unsuccessful
How do I renovate my turf?
1. Get a soil test
A soil test will give you invaluable information about what’s going on under your lawn. Virginia Tech’s Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences offers a $10 soil test (http://www.soiltest.vt.edu/) for Virginia residents. They analyze your sample and provide a nutrient breakdown in return, detailing exactly what your grass needs for optimum health.
2. Replenish soil moisture
If you are coming off of a dry summer, soak your lawn to a depth of 6-8″ before you do anything else. The immersion will make the renewal process easier and more effective.
3. Remove weeds
Pull or kill weeds with an herbicide. Since most herbicides require up to two weeks to act, this step needs to be completed well in advance of seed application.
4. Enrich topsoil
The easiest way to enhance topsoil is to add compost to it. Other necessary nutrients that your soil needs will be listed in your soil report. If you choose not to do a soil test, adding nitrogen is always a good place to start.
Also take this time to fill in any holes or uneven spots in your yard.
5. Choose the right grass
Consult a knowledgeable source about what grows best in your climate. If your property has areas that vary from swampy to parched, or sunny to completely shaded, you may need to consider a mix of different grasses to complement your landscape.
6. Equip the soil
Rake or aerate the soil to break up thatch and remove debris.
7. Apply seed
Seed via hand or a spreader. It is best to go over an area in two different directions to make sure that seed hits at various angles.
If you are seeding on a hill or a place that experiences erosion, make sure that you cover the seed with some mulching material or weed-free straw to ensure that it stays in place.
While you don’t want to drown your new seeds, you want to make sure that they stay moist. Water lightly twice a day – just enough to wet the surface of the soil.
Approximately four to five weeks after you seed, add phosphorous, potassium, and other nutrients to your turf based on your soil test results. If you haven’t purchased a test, you can use a standard fertilizer product.
Mowing actually encourages your new grass to grow, so once it is tall enough (3-4” tall), cut it with a sharp blade. Dull blades can rip new growth out by the roots, so be careful.
Make sure that you don’t cut your lawn shorter than 2-3”, depending on your grass type. If you cut it too short, the turf will burn up in the sun.
Your newly revived lawn will help block out noise pollution, improve the air you breathe, and increase your home’s curb appeal – along with many other benefits. If you think that your Northern Virginia turf needs to be revitalized but aren’t sure if you can tackle the project on your own, contact Sunrise today. We’d love to help.