Lawn Renovation

We don't play around when it comes to lawn renovations, it requires a complete plan and analysis of your lawn.  Coastal Turf Builders is the best lawn care company in Gulf Shores, AL

Steps for successful lawn renovation


Nine steps to renovating your lawn, along with various options for accomplishing each, are summarized in the chart on the right.


Site preparation


Weeds can be removed manually or killed using an herbicide. It is especially important to kill perennial weeds before seeding. If weeds are primarily broad-leaved, the area can be treated with a broad-leaf herbicide. It is then best to wait 2-4 weeks before seeding. If large patches of grassy weeds such as quackgrass are present, a nonselective herbicide such as glyphosate (Roundup, Kleen-up, or others) can be used. This will kill most green vegetation it contacts, so be careful to apply only to those areas and plants you want killed. Be sure to follow label directions on how long to wait before seeding.


Avoid using weed killers that persist in the soil, such as soil sterilants. Select herbicides approved for use on lawns, and then follow the label directions explicitly. Once weeds have been destroyed and have begun to dry (usually about 5 to 14 days following application of a nonselective herbicide), renovation can proceed.


While early fall is the best time of year to renovate your lawn, there may be little moisture in the soil then, particularly if the summer was dry. Prior to seeding, a thorough soaking (to a depth of 6-8 inches) to replenish soil moisture will make soil preparation easier. It will also help ensure that young grass seedlings have sufficient water.


If needed, thatch can be removed manually with a garden rake (a very laborious process!), with a vertical mower (sometimes referred to as a power rake), or with a sod cutter. Where thatch is excessive, removal with a sod cutter is recommended.


A vertical mower can be used over the entire lawn whether or not there is some grass remaining, and can also be used for preparing the seedbed. The tines should be set to nick the soil surface to a depth of approximately 1/8 -½ inch. Following vertical mowing, rake large clumps of debris from the site.


Alternatives to vertical mowing for soil preparation include vigorous hand raking (usually only practical on small sites) or extensive aerifying. Aerifiers (machines that poke holes in the ground and remove a small core of soil) are available at rental agencies. If you choose this method of soil preparation, aerify the lawn completely, going over it 3-5 times. Aerifier cores can be allowed to partially dry and then be broken up using a rake or vertical mower before seeding.


While more expensive, aerification followed by vertical mowing is recommended to prepare the seedbed. The important principle in seedbed preparation is to achieve good seed-soil contact. This will improve water supply to seeds and emerging seedlings during germination and establishment.


Just prior to seeding, about ½ pound of nitrogen per 1000 square feet in a complete fertilizer should be applied. It may be lightly raked into the surface where the soil is bare and loose. This is approximately one-half the recommended label rate for most lawn fertilizers. Fertilization will encourage establishment and growth. If extra phosphorus and potassium are needed (as determined by a soil test), they are best applied following aerification and should be watered in prior to final seedbed preparation.



Basic steps for renovating a lawn

Step Options Comments
1. Soil test Contact Coastal Turf Builders
2. Weed control Physically pull For large or spreading weeds; won't kill all weeds.
Broadleaf herbicide If weeds are primarily nongrasses.
Nonselective herbicide (glyphosate) Kills most green vegetation; requires 5-14 days to be effective in completely killing the plants.
3. Soil moisture replenishment If needed (especially in fall) Soak soil to a depth of 6-8 inches; then allow the surface to dry until steps 4 and beyond can be done (may require 1-2 days).
4. Thatch removal Vigorous hand raking Not practical for extreme thatch problem or large areas.
Vertical mower Can be rented or hired; can also be used to prepare seedbed (see below).
Sod cutter Recommended for extreme thatch problem; can be rented or hired.
5. Soil preparation Vigorous hand raking For small sites with little vegetation remaining.
Aerification 3-5 passes with commercial aerifier; especially recommended if soil is compacted.
Vertical mowing Tines should nick surface to a depth of 1/8-½ inch.
6. Fertilize Nitrogen (N) Phosphorus (P) Potassium (K) ½ pound of N per 1000 square feet; P and K as determined by a soil test.
7. Seeding Divide seed lot in half or quarters and seed in 2 or 4 directions.
Hand For small sites (less than 8 feet across); mix 1 part seed with 4 parts fine sawdust or a natural organic fertilizer such as Milorganite.
Rotary spreader Preferred method if mixed with sawdust or Milorganite.
Drop spreader Seed in 2 directions or overlap ½ way.
Slit seeder Equipment can be rented but requires skill; generally best done by a professional. Go over site 2-4 times.
8. Irrigate Lightly to provide good seed-soil contact; then, water lightly twice daily to rewet soil surface (if surface remains moist, may require watering only once or not at all). Don't allow to become soggy.
9. Mow When 3½ inches tall, mow to 2-2½ inches with sharp mower; continue regular mowing as needed.

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Lawn Renovation requires getting down to the balance of the soil being fixed. Then we build it all up from there with a new foundation for perfect growth.

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