How to revive a dead lawn

How to revive a dead lawn

Got a lousy looking lawn? No problem! With a little research and effort, you can easily restore your lawn to lush beauty. Simply follow these steps to revive your dead or dying lawn.

Step 1: Understand the issue

The very first step is to identify the problem areas. Was the problem caused by pests, the environment, or soli? 

Pests: Pests can ruin even the most well-maintained lawns. Be watchful of brown spots, bite marks on grass, dead grass patches, wilting grass blades, holes in the soil, or thinning roots. 

To check this out, you can perform the following tests: 

  • Visual test: Some bugs fly away when you walk over the spot. Some reside underground, and you need further testing for them.
  • Dig test: Dig a small patch deep enough to see the roots, and place it on a paper. The contrast of the white paper will let you easily see any bug living in the soil. 
  • Soak test: Mix 4 tablespoons of dish soap into 1 gallon of water. Pour the solution into the 1-foot area within the problem area, and wait for about 15 minutes. Any bugs will appear on the top of the soil. 

In addition, there could be other problems like overwatering or underwatering, excessive shade, or excessive sunlight. Some possible environmental problems, such as excessive heat, cold, or drought, can cause your lawn to lay dormant.

Step 2: Prepare your lawn 

As a rule of thumb, if 50% of the damaged lawn area is weeds or dead grass, then resodding is the best option. 

It can be an expensive option but provides instant gratification. Resodding covers problematic spots, lending your lawn a lush green look. You get a denser lawn that prevents weeds and soil erosion. 

Planting seeds and plugs are an affordable and easier alternative but are slower. In comparison to sod, seeding gives you more options, and you can choose the best grass depending on your geography. 

However, seeding or plugging your lawn makes it vulnerable to erosion, weeds, disease, and insects. The type of grass you choose also determines the planting method you need.  

Step 3: Regular cultivation

Cultivation involves two steps:

  • Weed removal 
  • Loosening the topsoil

Weeds compete with grass for soil, sun, nutrients, and water. In fact, weeds are more resilient and stronger than grass. Removing them makes your lawn look better and healthier. 

Next, aerate your yard by digging tiny holes in your lawn to allow the proper air flow, water, and nutrients down to roots. Aeration breaks up the dry soil crust and encourages deeper and faster growth of grass. 

While you do not need to aerate a sodded or seeded lawn for up to one-year, post aeration is suggested when adding grass seeds, fertilizer, and compost. Make sure you do not disturb or damage plant roots when cultivating.

Step 4: Fertilize

Fertilizers make your lawn green, healthy, and resistant to adverse environmental conditions. 

On top of that, fertilizers promote root and leaf growth and help recover from pests’ damages. Fertilizers also supply grass with necessary nutrients that it won’t get from the soil.

When you buy fertilizers, make sure you look for products high in potassium and nitrogen and low in phosphorus. 

Best time to fertilize your lawn is:

  • If you recently sodded or seeded your lawn, you should wait for 30-60 days before you fertilize it. 
  • Only fertilize the actively growing grass. Do not fertilize at the time of a drought as well as during the winter season when your grass is dormant.
  • Never fertilize the grass of your lawn when it is about to rain in the next 24 hours.

When fertilizing, keep in mind that you read and follow the instructions on the product you buy. You need to apply the fertilizer properly to yield the maximum coverage and optimal results. 

Step 5: Water properly

Set up your irrigation system properly, making sure that every inch of the grass receives an adequate amount of water. 

Watering more in less time, the lawn grows deeper roots that make it more resistant to environmental factors and weather conditions. 

You can speak to an experienced and specialist irrigation specialist that can check your current system. Based on the analysis, they can recommend required changes to help you optimize water coverage as well as efficiency. 

In addition to this, many companies even avail maintenance plans and let you own a healthy, lush, and lively lawn. 

Bonus Tips

Never cut your grass too short. Every turf species is unique, and you want to cut it to the proper length. But, longer grass means deeper roots, and deeper roots mean stronger grass.

Sara Butler

Sara Butler has written scores of articles for Lawn Love -- everything from how to revive your dead lawn to how to start to lawn care tools every homeowner should have.