The Q&A Archives: Overgrown Rock Area

Question: Former owners converted a small lawn area into a rock garden of sorts. Now it is overgrown and weeds have taken over. What are the steps in turning this 3ft x 20 ft area into a lawn again?

Answer: In general, you would need to run some basic soil tests to check fertility and soil pH levels, then remove the existing vegetation (dig it out by the roots or use an herbicide containing glyphosate -- be sure to read and follow all label directions including any waiting period before planting), loosen the soil down about six inches, work in some organic matter such as compost, work in fertilizer and/or lime as indicated by the soil tests, level the soil, rake the surface smooth, and then sod or seed. Be prepared to water so that the soil stays evenly moist until the grass becomes established.

Late August to early September is actually the best time of the year to start a new lawn. One aspect to check however is if the rock in that area is naturally occurring -- lawn grass needs at least six inches of soil, preferably deeper, for healthy roots. If the area is rocky with only shallow soil, you may want to consider planting a groundcover there instead of lawn grass.

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