Eight Steps for One Great-Looking Lawn Restoration

Lawn shown with before and after. Dead, tired lawn on left, with the green, restored lawn on the right.

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Learn How To Restore a Lawn in Eight Simple Steps

Bare spots. Dead grass. Lawn full of weeds. It’s enough to make you give up hope on ever having a beautiful green yard. But, with a little work and a few growing seasons, you can restore your yard into that plot of healthy green grass you’ve always wanted.

Ready to fix a weedy lawn and get your green grass back? Let’s get started.

Step 1: Get to the Root of the Matter

Start by dethatching your yard. Thatch is that thick layer of grass clippings and other organic material at the base of your grass. Too much starves your grass of oxygen and nutrients. Shovel out a triangular plug of grass that’s a few inches deep. If the thatch layer is up to an inch thick when you press on it, it’s time to detach. It’s best to do this in spring or fall.

Step 2: Be On the Straight and Level

All those bumps and divots in your yard can make you mad — or even twist an ankle. Luckily, they’re both quick fixes.

For Depressions

For small divots, throw on a little top soil and a layer of compost. Easy enough. Use a landscaping rake to make sure it’s smooth and level with the area around it. For larger depressed areas, remove the sod and fill the hole with a mixture of soil, compost, humus, and fertilizer. Then, replace the sod and press it down. Remember to water any repaired areas.

For Bumps

Remove a 2’x2’ section of sod and the excess dirt below it. Throw in some compost and soil, soak it with a hose, and cover it back up with the removed sod. Place some of your remaining dirt around the cut edges to help blend in the patch.

Step 3: Build Good Chemistry

Want your yard to love you back? You need good chemistry. Test your soil’s PH levels. If your soil’s pH levels are too high or too low, many nutrients cannot get to the grass. There are a few ways to test it at home, but the easiest is to use a pH soil tester you can purchase at any home and garden center, or use a professional lawn care service.

Step 4: Feed It

Fertilizer does wonders for starving yards. To create a healthy lawn, use a slow-release fertilizer. Be careful about how much you use. Too much could lead to rapid grass growth and disease, or roll into storm drains.

If you tested your soil, make sure you apply the fertilizer recommended by the results. If you didn’t test your soil, apply a slow-release fertilizer with a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium ratio of 3-1-1.

Seeding your yard? Add fertilizer a week prior and water it into the soil.

Step 5: Keep Your Invisible Friends Happy

Your yard is a living, breathing community filled with billions of microbes and microscopic organisms per handful of soil. Keep them happy and well fed on soil that has 2–5% organic material, and they’ll keep your grass green and healthy.

Step 6: Air it Out

Some yards are so starved for attention and oxygen, you just need to literally poke them to make them feel alive again. By using a core aerator your lawn, you create space in your soil that allow grass roots to grow deeper, and receive more fertilizer and organic matter they need to thrive. Read our article on the best time to aerate your yard.

Step 7: Spread Some Grass Seed

Use your hands or a broadcast spreader to spread grass seed throughout your lawn. Want more power? A slit-seeder cuts little slits in your yard and plants the grass seed automatically.

Before sowing the grass seed, dethatch your yard to expose the soil by a ½ inch, and soak your yard. Start sowing at the edge of your area. Divide the remaining seed and apply half while walking in one direction, and the rest while walking in another. Lightly cover the seeded area with compost and topsoil.

When you overseed is dependent on where you live.

Northern Climates:

Overseed in late summer or early fall to help young grass germinate, establish strong roots, and store food needed for spring.

Southern Climates:

Overseed in the early summer to help it grass grow strong roots and store nutrients right before fall.

Step 8: Show Some Love

Your newly restored yard needs appropriate care. To speed up germination, mist your yard for 5 to 10 minutes in the morning and afternoon after you overseed, and twice a day there after.

Your grass should be about two-inches tall in four to six weeks. At this time, you can return to a normal watering schedule, and even add a second dose of fertilizer. You can mow it once it reaches three- to four-inches tall. Make sure your mower blade is sharp. A dull mower blade will only rip up your young grass — and we’re right back where we began.

You deserve a great-looking green yard. In eight simple steps, you’ll get there in no time.