Turf generally can be improved through proper mowing, fertilizing, watering, and pest control applications. With some turf problems, however, the only solution is re-establishment, using one of two methods:

  • The conventional method, which involves destroying the sod, tilling the soil, and replanting.
  • Renovation, which involves replanting without completely tilling the soil and often without destroying all existing vegetation.

Advantages of conventional tillage over renovation:

  • Control of weeds and undesirable grass may be more complete.
  • Surface depressions or humps can be removed, resulting in a smoother soil surface.
  • Large quantities of organic matter or sand can be mixed into the surface to improve soil aeration and moisture retention.

Advantages of renovation over conventional tillage:

  • Almost no erosion risk, post-establishment repair, or mud or dust problems.
  • Turf is off-color for only two to three weeks.
  • Less equipment is needed, thus renovation is less expensive.
  • Original grade is unchanged.
  • Post-planting watering is much easier on a stable organic surface.
  • Root systems of older trees and shrubs are mostly undamaged.

Turf areas are often renovated to:

  • Change grasses to plant an improved variety or a more adapted grass.
  • Eliminate weeds by killing grassy perennial weeds with a nonselective herbicide before reseeding or by planting a desirable species that is more competitive with weeds.
  • Reduce thatch and/or reseed with a non-thatch-forming grass.
  • Improve a turf damaged by heavy traffic, white grubs, diseases, drought, etc.

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Click here for the updated version of this publication, titled Renovating Your Lawn (AGR-51).

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