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Renovating a Tired Worn Out Lawn & Pimms

PimmsI am often asked by Friends how to renovate a lawn. Normally this question comes about after I have been around their garden and they get a bit scared that I might look at their lawn! A brief meeting with a set of friends yesterday evening was typical of such a request. Afterall, they are keen enough to tackle the task themselves but are lacking the know how on what to do when and also at what time of year too.

To keep it simple, there are a few rules to follow - more of a flow chart of tasks. This process can be performed at any time during the lawn growing season but allow at least an additional 6 weeks to complete the growing process at the back end of the year before the autumn frosts and leaves fall from the trees as the frosts will slow the germination process and the leaves will smother the new grasses!

This process will work if the lawn is around 50% weeds/moss and grasses.

Get rid of what you do not want - so kill the weeds and moss.

Fertilise the lawn to see what you have got left to play with, promote what grass is there, even if some are weed grasses.

Leave 14 days for the chemicals to do their work, longer if weather is dry or water.

Mow the lawn on a mower setting that you would never normally go down to, to reduce the volume of the lawn. This may take a gradual lowering of the mower blades in stages making more than one pass over the lawn. Be cruel to be kind, if you are over seeding then it does not matter if the lawn looks sorry for itself after you have mown it really low. It will make scarifying easier.

Scarify/rake in two directions so that the metal scarifier blades are just digging into the soil level just below the crown of the plant. Use a Springbok metal wire rake if mechanical equipment is not available. If the rubbish does not want to come out, then it will not, just get out what you can. Sometimes making a few more passes may get a bit more rubbish out but this is rare unless you are going to skin the lawn alive! If using a mechanical scarifier, remember to overlap the wheel tracks on each pass otherwise you will leave ridges.

Clear the debris with a rake or blower and dispose of. Do not be suprised if you get a vast quantity of dead grasses and fibre out of the lawns surface. Typically a lawn of some 500 sqm will produce up to 2 cubic metres of debris if it is a bit of a mess.

Mow the lawn again on the same setting that it was on when you finished reducing the volume of the lawn.

Aerate/spike with a fork or mechanical aerator to a depth of at least 4 or 5 inches (100mm - 125mm) in two directions. Despite belief, solid tine aeration is more important that hollow tine aeration. You should use both methods and only hollow tine every 3 - 4 years to remove deep thatch and ameliorate a more desirable soil into the surface of the lawn into the hollow core holes. The majority of Lawn Treatment Companies will only ever hollow tine - why! It is technically incorrect when solid tine aeration will also assist in the natural breakdown of thatch by stimulating active microbial activity in the soil.

Blanket over seed with a desirable and certified seed mixture at a rate of at least 20 grams per single square metre.

Optional - Top Dress with a loam/soil mixture such as Rolawn Blended Loam at a rate of around 1 Cubic Metre per 200 sqm of lawn as a general guide. This will restore the micro levels. Use a Trulute to work the top dressing into the lawns surface. You can always spread some more seed on top of the loam to be sure, to be sure.

Do not mow for 10 days, then mow on a high mower setting to get control of the existing grasses, then do not mow for a further 14 days to allow the grass seeds to germinate. Then mow again minimum weekly thereafter, alternating the direction of cut each time and remove the clippings.

Fertilise again in 3 months time with a fertiliser treatment only (no weed or moss killer otherwise you will kill the new grasses). We recommend Scotts Lawn Builder Fertiliser Programme. Fertilise again every three months thereafter.

It will take at least two months for the grass seed to develop to get to at least 6 leaf stages so give the lawn a chance before you start panicking that the grass seed is not coming up!! Not all the seed will come up at the same time, the finer grasses taking longer.

Maintain watering or do a rain dance at regular intervals to speed up the process and protect the investment and if there are still a few bare areas where the soil is dry or thatchy, in these areas use a Wetting Agent Tablet to get these areas wet again then over seed them. See this Technical Leaflet on Dry Patch & Wetting Agents

Then sit back in the garden chair, relax with a glass of Pimms and view your new lawn.....


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