rehabilitating yard with patchy grass and exposed plastic sod mesh - Knowledgebase Question

vancouver, Wa
Question by peterwbeck
March 27, 2010
The previous home owners let the back yard go. the yard is patchy with 60% covered in moss and 40% mostly dirt with the plastic mesh from the sod exposed. What is the best plan of action for rehabilitating the yard? I'd like to pull up the mesh and reseed it but don't know if there is an easier strategy or exactly the best way or with what tools to do this. Thanks!

Answer from NGA
March 27, 2010


I'm with you - I'd remove the mesh and rototill the area, then seed. Moss is an indication of soil compaction, poor drainage and low fertility. Removing the mesh and rotilling up the soil will correct the compaction and drainage problems and provide you with a clean slate. The amount of time you spend in soil preparation will reward you many times over in the future. If you don't have a rototiller you can usually rent one from an equipment rental outfit. Here are the steps to installing your new lawn:

Remove the old lawn and/or weeds, plus the mesh. One way to accomplish this is by digging them out with a flat-bladed shovel (make sure you get the roots). Break up the compacted soil with a tiller. Spread a starter fertilizer over the now-loosened soil. This type of fertilizer is high in phosphorus, the middle number in the NPK sequence on a fertilizer bag. Also spread a soil conditioner over the soil. "Soil conditioner" is often what it's called at the store, but if you have a good supply of compost at home, it will serve just as well as a soil amendment. Again using the tiller, till the starter fertilizer and soil conditioner (or equivalent) into the soil. I know this seems like a lot of work, but good soil preparation is one key in seeding lawns successfully.

Now rake the soil to begin to level it out, removing any rocks and debris that you find. To avoid problems with excess water-runoff, make sure that any site grading you do allows water to flow away from your house. This next step requires a roller. Rollers, like tillers, can be rented from your local rental center. Fill the roller's drum with water, then use the roller to finish leveling the soil. Water the soil lightly. For the next step you'll need a seed spreader. Following the recommended seeding rate, spread 1/4 of the seed over the entire lawn area. Then repeat times, each time using 1/4 of the seed. However, each of the 4 times you distribute a load of seed, push the spreader in a different direction, to encourage even dispersal. Rake lightly, so as to cover the seed with a thin layer of soil.
10For this step you'll use the roller again. But first you'll empty out the water from the drum, because you want it lighter this time. Now roll the lawn surface.

The hard work is over but you've still got some more to do - The seeds must be watered properly, in order to germinate. Use just a fine spray, as you don't want to create a flood! The soil should be kept evenly moist, which may mean several waterings per day (depending on the weather). After the grass blades sprout, you'll still need to water a couple of times per day.

Best wishes with your new lawn!

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