Steps // How to Rejuvenate a Dying Lawn
1 ×

Cut the Sod

 
Step One // How to Rejuvenate a Dying Lawn

Cut the Sod

toh landscape contractor roger cook cutting the sod
Photo by Kindra Clineff

Using a sod cutter, slice through the grass roots to make long strips of loose sod. These machines are difficult to turn, so make your runs parallel to the lawn's longest edge, if possible. Cut as much of the lawn as you can with the cutter; use a hoe for tight spots near the house.

 
2 ×

Remove the Grass

 
Step Two // How to Rejuvenate a Dying Lawn

Remove the Grass

toh landscape contractor roger cook removing the grass
Photo by Kindra Clineff

Chop the long strips of sod into manageable 1- to 2-foot-long sections with a spade, then scoop them into a wheelbarrow and take them to a compost pile. Healthy sections can be used to patch bare spots elsewhere in the yard.

 
3 ×

Till the Soil

 
Step Three // How to Rejuvenate a Dying Lawn

Till the Soil

toh landscape contractor roger cook tilling the soil
Photo by Kindra Clineff

Loosen up the top 2 to 4 inches of soil with a rotary tiller. For sandy or uncompacted soil, use a mid-tine tiller with rear-mounted wheels. For heavily compacted soil, a rear-tine tiller is the better choice. Follow the same path as the sod cutter to minimize turns. One pass should be sufficient.

 
4 ×

Spread Compost

 
Step Four // How to Rejuvenate a Dying Lawn

Spread Compost

toh landscape contractor roger cook spreading compost
Photo by Kindra Clineff

Order enough compost to cover the yard 3 inches deep: one cubic yard per 108 square feet. Have the load delivered as close to the lawn as possible, then distribute it with a wheelbarrow. For heavy clay soils, spread 1 inch of sand along with compost to improve drainage. Blend it in with the tiller.

 
5 ×

Grade the Soil

 
Step Five // How to Rejuvenate a Dying Lawn

Grade the Soil

toh landscape contractor roger cook grading the soil
Photo by Kindra Clineff

Smooth the lawn with a grading rake, and mix the compost and amendments into the top 2 inches of soil until no lumps remain. Start by holding the rake's handle lower to the ground so that the teeth can blend and pull more effectively. Hold the handle higher to rake the soil smooth. Take short strokes to prevent fatigue and back pain.

 
6 ×

Spread the Seed

 
Step Six // How to Rejuvenate a Dying Lawn

Spread the Seed

toh landscape contractor roger cook spreading seed
Photo by Kindra Clineff

Using a spreader, add nutrients in the amounts recommended by the soil test. Then broadcast fresh seed with a spreader set at its widest opening. Overlap each pass by a few inches. Swish the seeds into the soil using the back of a leaf rake. Finish by watering the seeds well. Water daily until the seeds sprout.

 

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