Reseeding your receding lawn
A tired and worn out lawn can sometimes appear to be a chore that just won't disappear. While it seems that procrastination may be the key, hoping the longer you leave it may just be enough time for it to repair itself. I'll let you in on a little secret...it won't!
Once a lawn becomes tired and dead spots begin to appear, it's time to take evasive action. There are many options, that you can pursue, which I will discuss further on, but for the most part reseeding your lawn is a great option. If you're living in the northern hemisphere now is the best time as spring is the perfect season to start sorting out your lawn problems. If you decide to reseed, depending on your lawn type, you may have it covered within this growing season.
WHY DO LAWNS DIEBACK?
There are a few reasons why lawns struggle to grow or they eventually die back. These can be related to soil compaction, lawn thatch, water repellent soil, too much shade, high traffic area etc. Each of these problems requires a different strategy, as I'll discuss.
- Soil Compaction if the soil below your lawn becomes too hard and compact it will repel any water or nutrients gaining access to the lawn and eventually the lawn will struggle to survive. To remedy this situation you will need to turn the soil over either manually with a spade or with a mechanical tiller. Once the soil has been aerated you can add some fertiliser (in spring you will want something high in nitrogen to encourage growth) and then reseed covering the seed with about 3-5mm (1½in) of coarse sand. Rake it over to keep level and water in well.
- Lawn Thatch it is very common for many lawns to thatch and become impenetrable to water and nutrients. This will show up as brown patches over time and become very spongy the more thatched an area is.
To remedy this situation you will need to break up the thatch with a lawn aerator. Follow the same procedures as the remedy for Soil Compaction, reseeding the lawn as prescribed by your lawn supplier.
- Water Repellent Soil if the soil repels water and nutrients and it isn't either of the first two problems then the diagnosis is with the soil itself. This is usually when the soil has too much clay content or is the opposite extreme and is far too sandy. The best soils are always loams - a mixture of both.
To repair the soil before lawn reseeding you may need to add a wetting agent to the soil or mix in some composted manures. Then follow the directions as prescribed previously.
- Too Much Shade you have three options here. (1) You can reduce the shade by uncovering the lawn. Chop some branches from an overhanging tree or remove the shade cloth from a pergola. If that's not an option then (2) reseed the lawn with a different variety of grass or (3) take the grass out completely and replace with some paving or another alternative lawn such as dichondra, chamomile or raoulia.
- High Traffic Areas this is really the same diagnosis and remedy as having too much shade. If high traffic is killing your lawn then you need to come up with an alternative to what you already have.