Steps in Repairing Lawns: Corrects only those areas that need work.
Steps in Lawn Renovation: involves killing off the entire lawn and reseeding the lawn.
Restablishing a Lawn: involves not only the complete removal of the existing lawn, adding soil amendments and re-grading the lawn prior to either installing sod, sprigs, plugs, or reseeding.
Renovation is used when a lawn, for whatever reason, needs to be totally replaced with a new lawn. The process calls for re-seeding, especially for cool-season grasses, or planting plugs, sprigs or stolons for the warm season lawns. Laying new sod is not usually considered a renovation process, but is a total replacement.
Timing is important depending on your geographic location. For seeding, the process is usually started in late summer so the lawn is established before the first heavy frosts . Warm season grasses are usually done as soon as the soil warms up enough for seeds to germinate in late spring.
Step One: Apply a non-selective herbicide such as Glyphosate (Roundup— use the higher strength version). A glyphosate herbicide kills what's on top of the soil as well as what's below the surface, yet doesn't remain active in the soil, so it's safe to plant again. Give the glyphosate time to work. Let the lawn turn completely brown, then give it another week before continuing.
At the end of that additional week, look closely at the lawn. Are there any signs of new growth? Spot treat those areas again. Wait another week, and if necessary, spot treat once more. These are important precautions that will pay off in the future. Failure to do this could mean that you'll get unexpected results that will be difficult to correct depending on the situation.
Step Two: After everything is dead, mow the dead lawn. It'll probably raise a few eyebrows from nosey neighbors, but what do they know? Mow as close as possible. Bag or rake the clippings. The remaining dead plants will provide a natural mulch for the new seedlings. Too many dead plants left in place and the new seed will have problems germinating.
Step Three: So far, everything's been fairly easy, now we're getting into the good stuff. Cultivate the soil. This calls for some power equipment you probably don't own. What you'll need is a dethatcher or power rake. A tool rental should have one. Go over the lawn first in one direction and then in another direction.
Optional: If your soil is heavily compacted, aerate it now.
You can combine the cultivation and seeding process by using a slit-seeder. This actually cuts through the dead turf and plants seed at the same time. Do the same routine of going one direction, and then in another direction. Slit-seeding is only recommended for non-compacted soils.
Step Four: Apply the seed, plant plugs, sprigs, or stolons. For seeding, use a quality seed of a grass type suitable for your climate. Use the rate on the label for establishing a new lawn. If using a slit-seeder, set the rate slightly above ½ the rate and do it in two directions as described above.
Step Five: Apply a starter fertilizer over the entire lawn according to label directions.
Step Six: Keep the seeds evenly moist until they germinate. As the seedlings get taller, cut back on the number of watering's, and increase the amount of water applied at one time. The lawn can be mowed when the new grass reaches 2" — 3". Don't apply any weed controls, even if some pop up. Wait at least 3 months or till next spring for cool season lawns or the fall for warm season before using any weed controls.