Lawn Renovation

Have the heat and bugs ravaged your lawn?  If so, lawn renovation is in order.  It’s a multi-step process and now is the time to get started.  In fact, it can be thought of as a set of “cookbook instructions”, however, the risk is that one or two steps will be overlooked.  If this happens, failure is likely.  The same is true for following all of the instructions for painting a wall or hitting a golf ball; if steps are skipped, there will be an uneven appearance in the wall, or a hook/slice in the ball path.

So, here are the step by step aka cookbook instructions:

  1. Determine why the lawn is ailing. Identify the cause – pet urine, grubs, compaction, drainage, weed invasion, fungal diseases, sprinkler gaps, etc. If you don’t, the likelihood of lawn failure next year is high.
  2. IMG_6771Deal with the ailment. Kill the grubs, increase the water penetration, plan to use disease resistant seed, use preemergence herbicides in spring, etc.
  3. Create a seedbed. If a few spots are present, aerate in 3 directions or powerrake in 2 directions. If more than 50% is affected, spray the lawn with Roundup and then aerate and powerrake.  If bare soil is showing on 50-70% of the surface, it’s ready to go.
  4. Reseed. Use 2-3 lbs. of Kentucky bluegrass per 1,000 sq.ft. or 9– 10 lbs. of turf type tall fescue per 1,000.
  5. Lightly rake the area with an overturned leaf rake or a section of chain link fence.
  6. Water. Frequently at first, for the first 3 weeks, 2-3 times per day for 10 minutes or so. Then, the next week, water 1-2 times per day and let the irrigation run a bit longer.
  7. Hand pull weeds as they germinate. (they tend to germinate faster than the desirable grass!)
  8. Apply starter fertilizer according to label directions after the bluegrass/fescue is 1-2 inches tall.
  9. Keep the soil in the new stand moist, not soggy or dry. Check it frequently with a screwdriver.
  10. Begin mowing when the height of the desired grass is 2 inches tall.
  11. Enjoy for years to come.
John Fech
Horticulture Extension Educator at Nebraska Extension
John Fech is a horticulturist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and certified arborist with the International Society of Arboriculture. The author of 2 books and over 200 popular and trade journal articles, he focuses his time on teaching effective landscape maintenance techniques, water conservation, diagnosing turf and ornamental problems and encouraging effective bilingual communication in the green industry. He works extensively with the media to extend the message of landscape sustainability, making over 100 television and radio appearances each year.
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