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How to renovate a lawn

Grassclippings - Lawn RenovationLawn Owners are scared of renovating their lawns it transpires. The thought of the poor visual of the lawn looking a bit sorry for itself really puts the freights on the average domestic gardener!! A professional Turf Manager and Groundsman will think nothing of really going to town with a turf area at the ideal renovation time on a you have to be cruel to be kind thought process journey.

If your lawn is looking a little tired, here is the flow chart that you should follow to turn your lawn around. Follow the order of treatments and mechanical operations and don't miss any task out!

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. If you have less grass and more moss, then simply kill the lawn off with a total weed killer rather than a selective weed killer and moss kill it and then follow the process too.

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

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 would be like setting two on a Hayter. 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 surprised 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 to pick up the straggly ends with the mower box on. Now the lawn is as bare as it can be.

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.

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

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 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). 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 o apply Wetting Agent Granules to get these areas wet again then over seed them.

Remember that you should perform all the processes above in this order. More than one task may be performed on the same day like the mechanical work if your back can take the pressure of the hard work! Seeding and fertilising may be performed together too.

Then sit back in the garden chair, relax with a glass of your favourite tipple and enjoy the comments from your neighbours marvelling at your new lawn.


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