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How to Restore Your Lawn

A perfectly green and healthy lawn is every homeowner’s dream. Whether you’re outside barbecuing for the family, or soaking in the sunlight, a luscious lawn is a perfect complement to the ideal summer fantasy. By maintaining proper lawn care tips and clearing out debris that is suffocating your turf, you can bring your ideal lawn one step closer to reality.

EditSteps

EditImproving Nutrient Flow

  1. Remove thatch using a dethatching tool. Thick layers of thatch can fill with water and deprive your lawn of vital oxygen. Using a powered rake or other dethatching tool, navigate your lawn as if you were mowing it by moving in parallel lines up and down the length of your property.[1]
    Restore Your Lawn Step 1.jpg
    • Thatch is composed of organic debris that has built up without having proper time to decompose. Be sure to regularly clear organic items such as leaves, stems and large patches of cut grass from your lawn to prevent build-up.[2]
    • A little thatch can be beneficial to your lawn. A thin layer of no more than half an inch can keep substantial temperature changes from damaging your lawn. Furthermore, it adds stability to lawns that see a lot of foot traffic.[3]
  2. Tear out weeds to give turf more access to important nutrients. While weeds can be an eyesore on an otherwise well-maintained lawn, they can also soak up the vital nutrients needed to properly flourish. Extensive patches of weeds can block sunlight and even soak up moisture, leaving your lawn weak and dehydrated.[4]
    Restore Your Lawn Step 2.jpg
    • Defense is the best offense when it comes to beating out weeds. Keep up basic maintenance such as watering and fertilizing properly. The turf will absorb its necessary water and nutrients, preventing weeds from getting what they need to grow.[5]
    • Hand-weeding is the safest and most effective way to remove roots. Use a trowel or long spade and dig deep into the ground around the weed. Loosen the soil around it, and then carefully pull the weed up. Replace the soil that was removed and then re-seed the bare patch.[6]
  3. Apply a preemergent herbicide to prevent further weed growth. While it will not kill weeds directly, herbicides that are applied at the beginning of a season can temper weed growth. Only use these herbicides on lawns that have been growing for longer than a year and have not been overseeded recently.[7]
    Restore Your Lawn Step 3.jpg
  4. Allow nutrients to sink in deeper by aerating your lawn. Aerators come in handheld devices, or in the form of large machines. They poke small holes into your lawn, allowing nutrients to permeate deeper into the turf. Follow the same path you did while dethatching.[8]
    Restore Your Lawn Step 4.jpg
    • If you’re using a spike aerator, you may have to go over the same area several times in order to make sure your holes are plentiful and penetrate deep enough into the soil.[9]
    • Because young turf has not established a solid root system, do not aerate your lawn within a year of either planting a fresh lawn or overseeding.[10]
    • Leave the pieces of soil pulled up during aeration on your lawn. They will eventually decompose and work themselves back into the gaps left behind.[11]

EditAdjusting Your Lawn Chemistry

  1. Purchase a pH testing kit and dig a small hole in your lawn. Fill the hole with distilled water, which has a neutral pH level. When the hole is filled, dip in your test strip. It should take about a minute for your test to give you a reading. You’re looking for a 6.5 out of 14 on your scale.[12]
    Restore Your Lawn Step 5.jpg
    • Don't be disappointed if your pH level is too high or too low. It's very rare for lawns to be at the perfect balance without a little extra work.
  2. Mix limestone into soil that is too acidic. Stores will sell both calcitic and dolomitic limestone; either one is acceptable for this task. Spread the lime across your lawn after watering to allow the lime to properly sink into your soil. Be very careful to follow the guidelines on whatever brand you choose, or you could do more harm than good.[13]
    Restore Your Lawn Step 6.jpg
    • You can also spread the ashes from your fireplace throughout your lawn for a more organic method of balancing your pH levels.[14]
  3. Add sulfur to soil that is alkaline. Soil is defined as alkaline if it ranks higher than a 7 on the pH scale. Unlike lime, sulfur is slower acting and shouldn’t be piled on. Check the brand instructions to find the recommended amount of sulfur per square foot, though two pounds per 100 square feet should do the trick.[15]
    Restore Your Lawn Step 7.jpg
    • Alternatively, simply use grass cuttings and other organic matter as a composting agent. Decomposition naturally adds acidity back into your soil. Just be careful not to add too much, or you will risk thatch build-up.[16]

EditMaintaining Long-Term Lawn Health

  1. Hydrate your lawn properly. Like all living things, lawns need a substantial amount of water to survive. Frequent, shallow waterings can be detrimental to your lawn health, however. Instead, make sure your lawn receives about one inch of water once a week.[17]
    Restore Your Lawn Step 8.jpg
    • If you’re unsure how much water your lawn is getting, place a ruler in the middle of your lawn. In a pinch, you can even use a can of cat food or similarly sized item to gauge hydration levels.[18]
  2. Breathe new life into your lawn with fresh seed. As the years wear on, lawns can begin to thin out. Thankfully, it's easy enough to restore a lawn to the lush, vibrant state of its younger years. Scatter more seeds, referred to as overseeding, across your yard in order to further fill out your lawn.[19]
    Restore Your Lawn Step 9.jpg
    • Watering an overseeded lawn is the exception to the once a week rule. A freshly seeded lawn will need a light watering twice a day. Keep this up for four days, then switch to a deep watering once a day for the next five days.[20]
    • The amount of seed you should use varies based on the size of your lawn and the damage done. Be sure to refer to the instructions on whatever seed you use.[21]
  3. Adjust how you mow the lawn to prevent weed outbreaks. Longer grass can block out sunlight, depriving weeds of a vital aspect of their growth. Adjust your mower to a height of three inches, and be sure to never take off more than one-third of each blade of grass per mowing.[22]
    Restore Your Lawn Step 10.jpg
    • Don’t dispose of your clippings. Instead allow them to decompose and provide extra nutrients to your lawn. Just make sure to remove larger clumps before letting it rest. This will prevent thatch build-up[23]
    • Because you don’t want to remove too much grass at a time, frequent mowings are necessary. Monitor the growth of your grass, and mow as often as necessary to ensure you’re only removing one-third of the blade at a time.[24]
  4. Fill depressions left by lawn use and upkeep. The process of keeping up with your lawn through aerators and lawnmowers can leave ruts across your property. Fill these depressions with a mixture of sand and soil. Be sure to put down only a half an inch of the mixture at one time.[25]
    Restore Your Lawn Step 11.jpg
    • Deeper ruts will require further treatment. Wait until the grass has grown out again in the remaining divots, which will take approximately four weeks. Repeat the process in these problem areas.[26]

EditSources and Citations


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