Lawn Renovation – First Steps

We’ve been dealing with the “Dog Days of Summer” for a couple of weeks now.  One of the things that go with this time of year are bad looking lawns, many of which need lawn renovation.  Mid-August is the time for step 1 of that process.  Steps 2 to 8 should take place in late August, and the rest as we progress into September.


The first steps of the process are just as important as putting the seed down, perhaps even more.  The outcome is very similar to painting a wall or building a deck.  If you’ve ever done either one, the end result is really bad if you don’t sand, fill holes and use primer or install the footings correctly.  In the 10 step lawn renovation process, the first steps are eliminating the undesirable vegetation and creating a seedbed aka steps 1-3.  The other steps below are built on this “foundation”.


Step One. Kill existing vegetation such as weeds and poorly performing turf with an application of Roundup.  Read and follow all label directions.

Step Two. Prepare the soil by power-raking.

after powerraking zoysia michele hoy

Step Three.  Rake and remove the dead plant debris.  This is a good material to add to a compost pile.

Step Four.  Apply ten pounds of turf type tall fescue or 2.5 pounds of Kentucky bluegrass per 1,000 sq. ft. with a drop spreader.  For better uniformity, split the amount of seed in half and apply half in a north-south direction and the other half in an east-west direction.

Step Five.  Apply a starter fertilizer product containing mesotrione according to label directions.  If you use a starter fertilizer product without mesotrione, wait to apply it until after the new grass seedlings are a half inch tall.

Step Six.  Moisten the upper inch of soil with light, frequent sprinklings.  In the first 2 weeks, 3-4 very light sprinklings per day are needed.

Step Seven.  Hand pull weeds that germinate and begin competing with the new desirable seedlings.

Step Eight. Keep the soil moist, not soggy or dry.  Check it frequently with a screwdriver.

Step Nine.  Mow the new turf when it reaches 2-3 inches tall.

Step Ten.  Enjoy the newly renovated area for many 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.
John Fech on EmailJohn Fech on Twitter

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.