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The soil nutrients most important to healthy grass plants are nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. Supply these nutrients by applying a commercial fertilizer formulated for starting lawns and lightly rake it into the soil before you reseed. Buy a grass-seed blend suited to your climate and local conditions and spread it over the lawn with a drop spreader or rotary spreader. Absent a different recommendation from the grass-seed grower, spread the seed at a rate of 2 pounds per 1,000 square feet on a lawn with substantial plots of live grass and 3 pounds per 1,000 square feet on bare soil. Water lightly once or twice a day to keep soil moist but not sopping wet. Don’t mow until the new grass gets 3.5 inches tall.
The best time for lawn renovation throughout the U.S. is mid-August to mid-September. Most weeds have not yet dropped their seeds and there will be little new weed growth. Also, reseeding at this time will give the new grass a chance to establish itself before going dormant for winter. Get rid of the weeds by manually pulling up large, spreading weeds. Follow up by applying a selective herbicide product that kills common broadleaf lawn weeds while not harming grass. For tough grassy weeds, like quack grass or crabgrass, use a nonselective herbicide such as glyphosate on the spots where these weeds have established themselves. Normally, all weeds will be dead within two weeks. Apply another herbicide dose in three weeks to get newly sprouted weeds.
Most deteriorated lawns have a built-up layer of dead and partially rotted grass stems, roots and rhizomes just below the green grass leaves. This is known as thatch, and it must be removed before reseeding so water and fertilizer can reach the new seed. For small lawns, you can remove thatch with a garden rake. For large areas, go over the lawn with a power dethatcher, also known as a vertical mower or power rake. These machines can be rented from garden centers. Remove the clumps of matter left by the machine with a garden rake and level the soil by raking it.
If you are faced with a neglected lawn that’s partially dead and is being taken over by weeds, you may be able to renovate it. Restoring a deteriorated lawn may be possible if the weeds and dead spots cover less than 40 percent of the lawn area. Renovation of a weedy lawn involves more than just mowing down the weeds and throwing some grass seed over the lawn.
If you have had a dry summer with below-normal rainfall, you need to replenish soil moisture before preparing a seedbed. Give the entire lawn a thorough watering, soaking until water has penetrated to a depth of at least 6 inches, then allow the surface to dry for a day or two before starting soil preparation.
Herb Kirchhoff has more than three decades of hands-on experience as an avid garden hobbyist and home handyman. Since retiring from the news business in 2008, Kirchhoff takes care of a 12-acre rural Michigan lakefront property and applies his experience to his vegetable and flower gardens and home repair and renovation projects.
How and when do I get rid of the dead weeds and plant grass? And how do I ensure that the grass establishes itself and stays green continuously, like the grass in my side yard, rather than needing to be re-seeded every year?
I see a lot of questions here about how to kill weeds to re-start a lawn, but my weeds are already dead. Can I just get rid of them and plant grass? If so, how do I get them out, and when?
But he did seem to be right about the front – we moved in the winter, and in the spring no grass grew there – it was all weeds. Once it got cold, the weeds all died, and now the lawn on one side of my house is nice green grass, and on the other side it’s all brown dead weeds.
I am willing to hire out some of the labor, but people I have spoken to want to charge huge sums to remove the weeds and establish the lawn (they also insist on putting in sod, which is much more expensive, when I am happy with my prior results from seed). I am happy to do the seeding and mulching myself, but am not up harder physical work. What exactly would need to be done, with which tools, so I can try to find someone to do it?
Apologies in advance if this is a duplicate; I have read some other similar questions but each scenario is so individual that it is hard to know exactly which advice to apply.
The previous owner (we moved here two years ago) breezily assured us that ‘every spring, you just sprinkle some grass seed, get a truck to dump some top soil on top, and that’s all.’ Knowing nothing about lawns (this is our first house), we accepted that.
I don’t want to use herbicides, and I’m ok with some weeds in my lawn. I don’t need the ‘perfect’ lawn, I just want it to be soft and green in most areas – I don’t mind if it’s not perfectly lush everywhere. Last year, we removed a patio, mixed compost and topsoil into the sand underneath, and hand-seeded grass. I was pretty happy with the results – there was a fair amount of weed growth, but mostly where the grass seed had not been planted thickly enough. If I can get the same results in the rest of the yard, I’m happy.