Advice on Renovating Your Lawn from Purdue Extension

We have all seen them as we drive down the road or even on TV; those perfectly manicured lawns that must have taken the homeowner hours of work to establish and maintain. Many of us don’t have the time to spend to establish and maintain a dream lawn
with no weeds and exactly 3 – 3 ½ inch tall grass with no dry spots. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t try to correctly establish or renovate our own lawns.
Surprisingly, the very best time to seed (or reseed) your lawn is in late summer around August 15 through September 15. You might want to seed close to September 1 if you want to use bluegrass seed, as it takes a longer time to germinate than most other varieties of grass. Seeding during this time, results in less weed pressure and you might not have to water as frequently.
Before you decide to seed your lawn, have a soil test conducted. You can get instructions on how to obtain a soil sample from the Extension Office. Soil samples can then be taken to your local agricultural co-op to be tested. Make sure to tell them at the agricultural co-op that the test is for a yard/garden and not a crop field.
Contrary to what you might have been told, you might not need to add lime to your lawn before seeding it. Instead, wait till you find out the results of your soil test before you add it. The reason for this is because most of central Indiana soils are limestone based. If you find
out you have high pH, you can lower it slightly with the addition of sulfur, but it will take time.
Once you have the soil test results and have added what is needed based on those results, it is time to till your lawn. You should till it to a depth of 4-6 inches. Do not work the soil when it is wet, in order to prevent compaction from occurring. If possible, try to add about 2 inches of compost to your soil as you till. While tilling, remove any large stones and debris.
Finally, after you have prepared the soil, you can seed the lawn. A drop seeder will provide the most uniform coverage, while a rotary spreader most likely will end up with streaks of grass in your lawn that are thicker or thinner in areas. Once you have seeded the lawn, lightly rake the ground to ensure good seed to soil contact. You can also use a roller at this time, but only use it with no water in the drum. I do not advice using a roller at any other time because it will cause soil compaction.
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