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Eight Steps to Restoring a Lawn

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It takes work, but it is not impossible to give your lawn a facelift. While it may take two or three growing seasons, your hard work will eventually pay off in a beautiful lawn. Follow these steps to help wake up a tired lawn: Step 1: Remove Thatch and Weed Buildup Thatch is un-decomposed stems and roots that accumulate near the soil surface.  Dig up a small, triangular-shaped plug of…

Removing Thatch and Weeds

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The first step to lawn restoration is to remove any thatch buildup.  Thatch is un-decomposed stems and roots that accumulate near the soil surface.  Dig up a small, triangular-shaped plug of turf several inches deep.  If the spongy layer above the soil is more than ¾- to 1-inch thick when you compress it, it is time to have your lawn dethatched.  The best time to dethatch is when your lawn…

Fill Depressions and Level Bumps

Filling Depressions and Leveling Bumps

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Poor grading, uneven settling, or the decomposition of buried tree stumps, logs, or roots can cause depressions and bumps.  While you are dethatching your lawn, check for bumps and depressions.  Mark any irregularities with latex spray paint so you can find them easily when you are ready to level. Depressions Smooth slight depressions by topdressing—applying a combination of topsoil and compost—the surface topsoil.  A wide landscaping rake is the best…

Adjusting Your Soil’s pH

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It is best to test your own soil, or obtain test results from a professional testing service, before applying any amendments. If your soil test shows that the soil pH is low, add lime according to the test recommendations.  If you did your own pH test, see the table to determine how much lime to apply. If you are unsure of your test results, be conservative.  Too much of an…

Fertilizer Guidelines

Adding Nutrients to Your Soil

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Use a slow-release fertilizer, and avoid putting down more fertilizer than you need. Adding too much nitrogen can cause rapid growth and a thinning of plant cell walls, which makes grass more susceptible to disease. The excess fertilizer may also leach and eventually find its way into waterways, polluting them. Tested Soil When restoring a lawn, apply the fertilizer as recommended by the results of your soil test. Untested Soil If you…

Increasing Organic Matter and Microbes in Your Soil

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Applying fertilizer will not help if your soil does not contain an adequate population of microbes; you need billions of these microscopic organisms per handful of soil.  Your soil must contain 2- to 5-percent organic material to have a thriving microbe population.  Microbes not only digest grass clippings, dead grass roots, and old stems, they make nutrients available to living grass plants.  A top-dressing of compost mixed with topsoil followed…

Aerating Compacted Lawns

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Aeration, also called core cultivation, is an important part of any lawn restoration program. Aeration allows grass roots to penetrate the soil deeply, helps fertilizer and organic matter get to the roots, allows oxygen to reach the roots, and makes it easier for water to soak into the soil. Aerate your lawn once a year in the fall.  Avoid aerating during dry summer months because you may damage an already…

Planting Your Lawn

Preparing to Overseed a Lawn

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Before you begin, choose the seed that is best for your geographical area and buy the amount you need to cover the size of your lawn. You have several tool options for spreading seed evenly and at the recommended rates. They include your own hands, hand-held and walk-behind spreaders, and slit-seeders (power seeders), which are power machines that cut shallow slits in the soil and sow seed at the same time….

Take Care of Young Plants

Taking Care of Young Plants

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Your efforts to restore your lawn will be in vain if you do not care for the young grass plants as the seeds germinate and begin to grow. The most critical need is to apply water at least twice a day, assuming no rain. If the soil dries out, the seedlings will not germinate or will soon wither and die. To maximize the germination rate, soak your lawn on the same…

Is It Really Lawn Disease?

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The best time to assess your turf’s state of health is before mowing. As you pick up fallen twigs or remove other items from the lawn, you should take a careful look at any areas that appear wilted, off-color or stand out from their surroundings. If you do note changes, it might not be disease. For instance, brownout of a cool-season grass during high summer is likely just summer dormancy, which…