Starting Over On A New Lawn - Knowledgebase Question

Chesterfield, Vi
Question by anike_mckoy
November 5, 2009
My husband and I just moved into our first home in July. Our lawn is pretty big, but it definitely needs some maintenance. It's very patchy and I think we have clay soil. I really want to till the whole yard and start over. Is it too late in the fall to start a new lawn? Should we just wait until the spring? We bought a huge bag of grass seed and I heard that seed goes bad. Is that true? HELP!

Answer from NGA
November 5, 2009


It is getting a little late in the season to renovate your lawn. I think you'll have much better results if you wait until this spring to redo your lawn.

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 decide to redo the entire lawn, 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. You can either reseed or you can install sod. 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 your existing 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.

It's true that seed ages and loses viability but if your store your seeds in a cool, dry place, they will be fine over the winter months. Be sure to place them in a plastic bag so they stay completely dry.

Best wishes with your new landscape.

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