Many times in the last 30 years, we have met people who love where they live, but hate their old grass and want to start over. We can either do the work for you, or we will explain here how to start over.
The most important and therefore the first step to renovating correctly is to kill out the old yard. Round-up is the chemical of choice. It kills all grasses and weeds. It will also kill any trees, shrubs or flowers that you directly spray as well so be careful in your spraying! It will not kill any tress or shrubs whose roots run under your grass as Roundup is neutralized when it hits the soil therefore it will not get into an underground root to kill a tree or shrub.
When spraying, you will need to be very vigilant in making sure you get every spot of old grass. We do this by putting a dye or turf marker in our sprayers before applying the spray. You too can purchase these dyes from IFA or other chemical stores. These dyes make the sprays a dark blue color so we can tell exactly where we have sprayed. We also use a spray surfactant to help the spray stick to the plants better and to be taken into the plants vascular systems quicker.
After spraying the Roundup, you will need to wait anywhere from 3 to 10 days (depending on how warm it is outside) to see if any grasses survived the spray. Usually, the tougher “bad grasses” such as crab, orchard, and the bunch grasses take at least 1 more spray session and we usually do 2 more when we renovate lawns just to make sure the grasses are dead for sure. You don’t want them to come through your new sod so be over diligent with the spraying!
Once you can see that your old lawn is definitely dead, now is the time to remove it. This can be done one of two ways. You can rototill the old grass and rake the small dead pieces out of the soil. Or you can rent a hand sod cutter and remove the dead grass in long strips that you roll up and haul to the compost dump. You will still need to rototill the soil after the old grass is removed to break up the compaction and relevel. If your soil has sat for a while and is very dry, you will find it helpful to turn on your sprinklers until the soil is moist to a depth of 6 inches. Then, let it dry out for a couple of days until it is easy to till or cut off with the sod cutter. Optimum moisture makes the job A LOT easier, and is a key to getting good tillage or a good cut from the cutter.
You must wait 7 days from your last spraying before you lay new sod. You CAN till and remove the old sod without waiting 7 days, but you must wait the 7 days before laying the new sod. Make sure your soil is soft and level and just like you want it to look when the job is finished. If your soil is mostly clay or mostly sand, you can amend your soil before tilling by adding any kind of aged manure, or compost. Then till it all together so that you have one homogenous soil to a depth of 6 inches. Your soil may be really fluffy after tilling.
You can hurry the settling process by raking, dragging a piece of fence with a four wheeler, or watering using your sprinkling system (just let it dry a little before laying the sod or you will be working in mud).
You can also rent a roller that you fill with water and roll the soil to settle it. If this seems like too much work, give us a call, we do it often and have it down to a science and would be happy to renovate your lawn for you! Or if you have any questions, give us a call we’d be happy to help you through the process.