The Q&A Archives: Temporary summer lawn

Question: I have an awful lawn. I plan to start from scratch late summer, by killing everything, airating, top dressing and reseeding with a cool weather grass. Meanwhile is there anything I can put down now for a temporary green lawn? I would not mind a fine clover as it would also fix a little nigrogen.

Answer: You could overseed with clover but if it flowers and goes to seed you may never get rid of it, even if you use vegetation killer and rototil the lawn. I'd strongly recommend redoing your lawn now instead of waiting until late summer.

There are a couple of ways to renovate your lawn. You can rototill it up and start all over, or you can rent a core aerator and aerate your lawn, then spread some sand or compost over the area and reseed.

If you want to start all over, start by rototilling the area to break up the soil. Remove any debris (stones, sticks, weeds, etc.) and then spread 4-5 inches of organic matter over the area and rototill it in, then rake the area smooth. Sod produces an almost instant lawn because the grass is mature with a healthy root system. After laying the sod and watering it down well, it only takes a week or two to become firmly established. Seeding takes a little longer, but the results are eventually the same - a lush, thick, healthy lawn. If you decide to seed your lawn, choose a mixture of perennial ryegrass, creeping fescues and bluegrass. This mixture contains both cool season and warm season grasses and will ensure your lawn remains green all summer and winter long.

The second option is to aerate the lawn. A core aerator will remove one inch by three inch plugs from the lawn. Leave the plugs on the lawn and they will dissolve in rain or water from the sprinklers. After aerating spread a thin layer of sand or compost over the area and water it in well. The sand or compost plus the soil from the plugs will work their way down into the holes left by the plugs. You can then overseed your entire lawn.

Either approach should improve the soil beneath the lawn and help your lawn grow lush and thick, which will help crowd out any future weeds.

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