How to repair a neglected lawn and ongoing care


A drop-in client at the TBG asked for information to pass on to her son on rejuvenating a neglected lawn and on-going care.



The best time to repair a damaged lawn is in the fall, as there is less competition from weed germination, and the soil temperatures are still warm. However, sounds like some more immediate action is necessary and spring is the next best season.

1. rake and de-thatch. The winter was slow in leaving, and we are just getting the soil to drain and dry out. It may be too soggy yet to do this. If the ground feels spongy, it’s too wet to work on. Try to stay off the lawn, as every time we walk on it compresses the soil, closing important air spaces that the newly growing roots depend on. Wait until the soil is no longer spongy to do this.

2. apply top soil – it’s important to know that the topsoil you purchase is weed free. Who needs more weeds? If your soil is poor in organics, clean compost will add the nutrients it needs. This should be considered to mix with your topsoil.

3. seed – grass seed won’t germinate while the weather is cool and wet. They will just sit there, feeding the sparrows, until the soil warms. So waiting is a good idea. In fact, the best time to seed the shady areas really is the fall, as the leaves from trees have started to fall, allowing more light to the ground, and the ground itself is still warm.  Spread the seed lightly over the entire surface of the lawn then rake in lightly.

4. water – once seeded, regular, deep watering is important to the get grass growing. Ensure the lawn is kept well watered for three weeks till the seed germinates then water deeply every 1-2 weeks. Choose a grass seed that is appropriate for the light conditions of your site.  Consider including a small amount of white clover (Trifolium repens) which germinates very quickly and will crowd out broadleaf weeds while the grass is getting established.

5. mow – once the new grass is established, mow regularly at a height of 2-3 inches.  Leave the grass clippings on the lawn to add organic material back into the soil.

Mark Cullen is an expert in the field of grass growing, take a look at what he says: