Seeding a new lawn gives you more of a 'custom fit'

Most of the new lawns we installed over the years fell into the lawn renovation category.  In these cases, we removed the old lawn due to thick thatch, severe insect damage, the presence of undesirable weeds and grasses or poor fertility conditions.

Many of the lawns we renovated were planted before major advances were made in grass development and breeding. Major university advances have brought about improved varieties of grass that often have insect or disease resistance, as well as improved growing characteristics. Therefore, performing a total lawn renovation allows the opportunity to introduce improved varieties of turfgrass, just like we plant in the lawns of new homes.

renovated lawn

Once an old lawn is removed, the next step is to fill in holes and low spots with topsoil. We then apply lime and two types of fertilizer -- one fertilizer to get the lawn started, and the other to keep it growing for the next 8 weeks. Next we sow one of our premium grass seed mixtures and mulch the lawn with straw or mushroom manure. Mushroom manure is the better choice since it is best at promoting seed germination, provides organic matter, discourages birds and doesn't introduce as many weed seeds as straw. It also doesn't blow around like straw invariably will.


One of the lawns we renovated in September 1999

Old lawn being stripped off

New lawn after first mowing


Whether your lawn is classified as a renovation, or brand new, the process is basically the same. Preparing the lawn for seeding:
  • Thatch - If the thatch layer is thicker than 1/2-inch it's usually a good idea to use a sod cutter and strip off the old lawn. Good "seed to soil" contact grows seed the best!
  • Weeds - If there's coarse grass mixed with desirable grasses, or a severe weed problem, you should consider spraying the lawn area with glyphosate one week prior to sod-cutting and other renovation procedures. Read and follow the Label instructions.
  • Grading - High spots will need "cut" and low spots need to be "filled" with topsoil. The finished grade should slope slightly in order to channel water run-off away from the house and prevent puddling.

Pile of topsoil
3 tons of Topsoil
Three tons of shredded & screened topsoil is enough to cover 2,000 square feet with a thin layer of soil. Bumpier lawns will require 2 tons per 1,000 square feet (or more) topsoil. Topsoil is easiest to shovel off a hard surface, like a paved driveway, with a flat scoop. Cover your pile to keep it dry if you can't get it all spread before a chance of rain!


Leveling topsoil with a steel rake

Grading a new Lawn

Screened topsoil without clumps and stones can be leveled with the back of the rake

Raw topsoil full of clumps and stones needs to be raked out with the tines of a steel rake


   applications of lime and fertilizer

  • Fertilizer - Apply lime and fertilizer according to soil test recommendations. Generally speaking, newly seeded lawns do best with a "starter" fertilizer high in phosphorus.
  • Soil pH - Depending on what area the lawn is located, you may need to apply products to adjust the pH of the soil. In Pennsylvania most lawn soil calls for an application of lime.
  • Seed mix - Tailor your seed mix to sunlight conditions (sun or shade) and (warm season or cool season) region. Apply the seed evenly at the recommended seeding rate. Buy the best quality seed available and seed at the right time of year (early spring or early fall).
  • Sod - For an "instant lawn" you might want to consider using sod. Most grass varieties (Kentucky Bluegrass) used in Pennsylvania sod need a sunny exposure, and generally require more annual maintenance than ryegrass and fescue seed mixes.
  • Mulch - Lightly cover grass seed with mushroom manure, clean straw or a recycled paper pellet product. Hydroseeding is another alternative.
  • Watering - Keep the surface of the soil moist without washing out the grass seed. Mow when the new grass reaches mowing height. Spot-seed any bare or thin areas after 3 to 4 weeks have passed.
  • Irrigation systems - Prior to installing a new lawn, or while renovating an old lawn, is the time to consider adding an automatic irrigation system.

New lawn ready to be watered

Ready for Water!
This new lawn has been mulched with mushroom manure and is ready for watering. New lawns should be kept moist to encourage good seed germination.


buying the right seed

mowing grass

fertilizing grass

lawn renovations

sodding a lawn


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