The Q&A Archives: Renovating Lawn

Question: My backyard lawn is in need of some serious attention. I have lots of pine trees, thus acidic soil. The lawn is most of the day in shade in most spots. The soil is very rich and the ground is not compacted. There are various grasses and weeds growing. Where should I start? What sort of seed and fertilizer is necessary?

Answer: It can be really difficult to get a lawn to grow beneath pine trees. Not only is the area shady and acidic, but it will also be dry because the canopy of the tree will deflect rain, and because the roots will soak up nearly all the moisture. You can try to grow grass there, or you can grow groundcovers such as Vinca minor beneath your pines. If you want to renovate your lawn and try it again, you'll need to remove the weeds, then scratch the soil up in the bare spots and sow shade-tolerant grass seed. Cover the reseeded areas with peat moss to help retain moisture and water once or twice a day until the grass seed germinates. You can water less often once the grass is up (but keep it from drying out completely). After you've mowed the lawn once or twice you can put it on a regular feeding schedule (April, June, September and December), keep it well watered and mow as often as necessary to maintain a height of about 2 -2 1/2". Best wishes with your landscape!

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