The Q&A Archives: Lawn Needs Renovation

Question: Two years ago our front lawn was infested with grubs, and last year we had a drought. The lawn is hay-like and now is being overtaken by violets and miscellaneous weeds. The violets are nice, but I'd rather not have them take over the front lawn. What can I do to improve the lawn and keep the weeds under control, without starting over?

Answer: Most lawn failures can be traced to poor soil preparation at the very beginning, along with poor maintenance practices, and, in some cases, poorly selected lawn grass varieties. When a lawn is in truly bad shape, it can be preferable in the long run to start over from scratch. If you want to try to renovate the lawn, begin by having the soil tested to determine the pH and nutrient levels. Dig out as many weeds as you can, then spread a thin (1/4-inch) layer of compost over the entire lawn. Overseed with an appropriate lawn grass, keep the are watered, and hope for the best. Healthy grass will outcompete most weeds, so if you can get the sod in good shape, you'll go a long way toward controlling unwanted invaders.

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