Today’s post wraps up my focus on lawns. In the last several weeks, we’ve discussed the natural conversion that takes place in a lawn, maintenance practices, and how to put in a new lawn. Hopefully, these posts have been practical and informative giving you the confidence to improve your own turf grass. Lawn questions are received several times each week at the Master Gardener desk because people want to know the facts about lawns that are backed up by research. A little knowledge gives a lot of confidence and motivation!
Here’s a common email that a Master Gardener desk receives:
Dear Help Desk,
My husband and I just purchased our first home. It’s older and needs some work – especially the yard. We like the landscape for the most part, but the grass is awful with weeds and different colored grasses all throughout. We don’t have a big budget for all the work. What can we do that’s inexpensive and will make a big difference? Thank you!
If you don’t like the appearance of your lawn, do you have to start at the beginning as though you were going to establish a new lawn? No! There’s a more simplified process that’s great for sprucing up old, tired lawns, and it’s called renovation. Renovating simply means that improvements can be made to an already existing lawn. Renovation can greatly improve the appearance and performance of a turf with much less cost, time and energy.
When is renovation a good option?
- When the lawn has been neglected
- When it is weed-infested
- When part of the lawn has worn out due to heavy foot traffic or animals
- When part of the lawn is dead due to leaves or debris not being raked up and removed
- When there are patches of invading grasses moving in
Before you begin the renovation process, take a look at the entire growing environment. Spend some time determining what might have contributed to the deterioration of the lawn. Making some environmental changes will give the lawn renovation a much greater chance of success. When planning a renovation, here are some things to consider:
- Take a soil test. Determine both the pH and the nutrient level in the soil to know what amendments are needed.
- Observe the amount of shade that is present throughout the day. Possibly trees or shrubs could be pruned to let more light in. If the environment is shady, select grass varieties that are more shade tolerant (fine fescue for example).
- Look at your calendar and plan out the time sequence. Fall is nearly always the recommended time for renovation but 6 – 8 weeks of good growing weather are needed once the seed is down. Determine how early the project needs to be started in order to allow for that optimum amount of growing weather.
- Determine the square footage that will be covered and the type of grass seed that you want. Last week, I suggested using the tools for grass seed selection and for calculating the amount of seed that are on Outsidepride’s grass seed pages. They are very helpful!
If you’re not thrilled with your existing lawn, there’s no reason to settle. With some planning and effort, you can bring a tired, neglected lawn back to life!
Question for the week: Have you ever renovated a lawn? What was your experience doing so?
By Kimberly Bell