When your lawn is in poor shape with overgrowing weeds or simply patchy and unhealthy, it might be time to fix it in a hassle-free and fastest way possible.
There are two different methods of how to plant a new lawn over an old lawn.
The first method involves killing the entire existing lawn and starting over from scratch, while the second method is less time-consuming and labor-intensive, which involves dethatching, aerating, and overseeding the existing lawn.
Let us take a closer look at these two hacks on planting a new lawn over an old lawn.
Start from scratch
In the first hack on how to plant a new lawn over an old lawn, it can take time and effort on your part to achieve a new and attractive lawn for your home. The advantage of this method is that it is guaranteed to work. Take note that it is the ideal option if your lawn is overflowing with weeds or moss to an extent where they completely took over your outdoor space.
Assess the soil
Before making any moves, your first task is to assess the soil. I suggest looking for a reliable soil testing service and you will receive a report of your soil with recommendations on the type of seeds that will grow best along with steps to take to improve your lawn.
An alternative is using a simple home soil test that can provide you with information to conduct your research on the ideal grass types to grow on your lawn. Knowing the type of soil in your lawn is important so that you can choose the right fertilizer and suitable grass and plants to grow.
Remember that specific grass types thrive better in particular soil types. With this in mind, selecting the right one for your lawn’s soil will ensure a healthy lawn in no time. Additionally, knowing the soil’s pH value can significantly help in choosing suitable flowers, plants, and shrubs in case you want to create a garden.
Kill the current lawn
Although you can find chemicals that can eliminate almost everything in your lawn, I do not recommend this approach since these chemicals can linger in the soil and seep into the new upper layers and damage your new seeds.
A safe alternative to eliminate everything that is growing on your lawn is to do it manually. You need a sod cutter or place black poly film throughout the lawn to block out the light.
After two weeks, anything that is growing on your lawn should die off after completely drying out. In case grass or weeds are still present, leave the cover in place for another week. A clear indication that your lawn is dead is when the grass and weeds are completely dry and brown.
Getting rid of the debris
Once your lawn is completely dead, you have to get rid of the dead grass and weeds. Utilize a rake to clean up all the dead debris. Although you can use a standard tine rake, it might be best to use a thatch rake to ensure that you lift the organic waste by the roots, not just the surface grass or leaves.
Till the soil
Before adding topsoil or fertilizer to your current lawn, make sure that you will thoroughly plow the soil. As you till the soil, you are breaking up all the trodden areas so that it will be easier for the fertilizer and new soil to mix in with the current environment.
Remember that tilling the soil will provide enough room for the new seeds to germinate and form healthy roots. You can do the tilling process manually or using a machine.
Add fertilizer or new topsoil
After tilling, you can add fertilizer and/or new nutrient-rich topsoil all over your existing lawn. I recommend raking in the new soil into a smooth level. Take care to manually remove any leftover debris such as dead roots or rocks.
Take note that seeds require a level and smooth environment to germinate effectively. Avoid skipping on this step, or end up with a patchy lawn once the grass grows.
Sow the seeds
Once you have the correct type of grass seeds for the soil in your lawn, it will ensure the best chances of creating a healthy and vibrant lawn in no time. Make sure that you have enough seeds to use.
For some, they plant the seeds manually with the help of a seeder. It will significantly hasten the entire procedure while also guaranteeing that your lawn is adequately covered.
An optional step to take is to rake the area after seeding and even shelter the lawn with a superficial amount of nutrient-rich topsoil.
You can even compact the soil minimally using a sod roller to provide the seeds with protection from the elements and birds that often see the seeds as a flavorful treat.
Once the grass starts to grow, you need to overseed to fill in any sparse areas that develop.
After sowing the seeds, you can cover the entire lawn with mulch or a grass seed accelerator, which typically includes both mulch and the suitable mixture of necessary nutrients to promote healthy and quick germination of the new seeds.
Watering the seeds
The final step is watering the seeds in your lawn. Watering is crucial to help the new seeds germinate but avoid overwatering. The best way to prevent overwatering is to utilize a sprinkler system. The key to proper watering is to keep the soil moist but not overly soaked.
Dethatch, Aerating, and Overseeding
Let us now proceed to the second hack on how to plant a new lawn over an old lawn – dethatching, aerating, and overseeding.
This method requires less time and effort than the first hack, but it still involves labor on your part to get it done. However, if you do it right and not take any shortcuts, it will work as well as the first method.
This method might be the best option if your lawn has only limited weed growth but has large patchy regions, appears barren and well-trodden.
Dethatching is the best method to get rid of any dead organic debris accumulated on your lawn over a long period. I suggest using a scarifying rake or an engine-powered dethatcher, if available, to easily and quickly remove the dead organic matter.
The buildup of thatch on your lawn occurs once roots and dead organic matter creates a barrier that prevents water and nutrients from reaching the roots.
The thatch buildup can form a barrier that can be inches thick. This barrier causes considerable sparse areas on your lawn and/or a sickly-looking lawn that lacks vibrancy since the water and nutrients cannot pass through the barrier to reach the roots.
The dethatching process using a scarifying rack or dethatcher pulls up this dead organic material on the upper part of the lawn and those that lie below the upper area, thus eliminating the barrier.
After the dethatching process, it is only the start of the process in preparing the lawn for the new seeds. The next step is to aerate the lawn to allow water and nutrients to readily reach the roots of the existing grass and seeds you plant once they germinate.
Aeration is a process that involves breaking apart the trodden soil by perforating ventilation holes in the lawn. Today, you can find a variety of aeration tools in the market ranging from hand tools to motorized gear.
If you are going to invest in an aeration tool, I highly recommend a hollow tine aerator instead of a solid tine aerator. It is best to use a hollow tine over a solid tine because the solid tine drives the soil down, contributing to further compaction at the puncture site. As for a hollow tine, it removes the core of the soil. The core can be left on the lawn as it eventually breaks down with the help of the microorganisms that are present in the soil, thus adding nutrients back into the lawn.
Overseed or reseed the lawn
Once you complete the dethatching and aerating process on your lawn, it is time to add the new grass seeds.
The overseeding process is simple to handle. Simply spread the seeds throughout the lawn and leave them in place to allow them to germinate naturally. Make sure that you will provide sufficient water exposure before and after seeding to ensure even growth.
The ideal way to make sure that the new seeds will get enough water is to utilize a sprinkler system. When overseeding, you should focus on spreading the greatest number of seeds in patchy areas in your lawn, but make sure that you will place seeds throughout the lawn for even coverage.
Now that you know these two useful hacks on how to plant a new lawn over an old lawn, you are now ready to fix your patchy lawn in no time. Depending on the method you will use, both can effectively restore your lawn’s beauty with healthy and vibrant grass.
Written by Corinne and edited by Patricia Godwin