The Q&A Archives: lawn repair?

Question: I have a small (fenced in) backyard (typical city lot size). Last year my dog was ill and had to be on a long course of steroids which caused him to have to urinate EXTREMELY frequently. My dog is on the mend, but I worry that there is no hope my back yard lawn. All the grass is dead and it is basically just mud that he (the dog) now urinates on when needed. My question is to what extreme I will need to go to have a decent back lawn again? (i.e. do I dig up the affected area and replace it with sod? Do I dig it up, put down a certain type of soil with grass seed? I would appreciate any input....especially from those who can be mindful that my dog's illness has set me back financially.....

Answer: You could sod the lawn but that is the most expensive option. Whether you sod or seed it, you would want to do some soil preparation to give the grass the best chance of establishing. First you would run some basic soil tests to see if you need to fertilize and whether or not you need to add lime to the soil to adjust the pH. You would remove any weeds either by hand or by using an herbicide containing glyphosate (read and carefully follow the label directions), loosen the soil down about six inches, work in some organic matter such as compost, work in your lime and/or fertilizer as indicated by the test results, level the area, and rake the soil smooth. Then plant your seed or lay the sod. The best time of year to seed a lawn is actually late summer into September but you could try seeding now. Your local county extension should be able to help you with the soil tests and interpreting the results, and they should be able to suggest which specific variety of grass seed would do best for you in your yard. I'm glad your dog is getting better. Good luck with your lawn this summer!

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