Reviving a Lackluster Lawn

Over time, life can take a toll of your lawn, causing it too look tired or worn out. Kids, pets, environmental conditions and even the natural progression of grass in its life cycle sometimes means you need to give your lawn some attention and revive it. In the worst cases it may be necessary to try to overseed or reseed the grass to strengthen it.

Signs Your Lawn Needs some TLC

The following symptoms are a good indication your lawn needs attention.

  • Brown patches spreading across the lawn.
  • Lawn looks like it’s thinning or damaged.
  • Worn patches from high traffic.

It’s important to check for signs of diseases or insect pests to make sure a struggling, thinning lawn isn’t related to an infestation. If a pest problem is at the root of your problems treat it accordingly before trying to revive the lawn using the following steps or even going so far as to try reseeding it.

Tips to Revive Your Lawn

Before taking the big step to tear your lawn out and start over – which is rarely ever needed – or even trying to reseed it, you can try a few things to give the grass a boost.

  • Start off by taking some soil samples and having them tested. Many local county extension offices offer testing services for a small fee. The results will tell you if the soil pH is in a good range, and if you are experiencing any nutrient deficiencies.
  • Aerate the grass yourself, or hire a professional service to do the job. Aeration perforates the soil with small holes allowing better air and water penetration and reducing soil compaction.
  • De-thatch the grass with a power rake. Over time a layer of dead or decomposing grass shoots, stems, and roots forms between the grass blades and soil surface. This thick layer of “thatch” creates a barrier inhibiting water and air from permeating the soil.
  • Add a thin layer of organic matter to the lawn’s soil. The organic matter will help improve water retention and over time will break down to add nutrients to the soil.
  • Apply a balanced fertilizer at the recommended label rates, based upon the type of grass you are growing. Nutrient defeciencies are a significant contributor to lackluster lawns.
  • Encourage nightcrawlers. The tunnels they did help water, air, and nutrients move through the soil; worm castings left behind are a great source of nutrients and beneficial microorganisms.
  • Make sure your grass is getting 1” of water per week. In areas of low precipitation, considered installation an automated sprinkler system with a smart irrigation controller to water the lawn for you. Schedule irrigation events to apply more water at a less regular interval; this encourages the root system of the grass to move deeper, making it stronger and more tolerant of drought conditions.

How to Reseed Your Lawn

If your lawn is past the point where the above tips will revive it, your best option may be to reseed or overseed it, to thicken it up and bring back its luster. While not a symptom in itself, it is recommended that if your lawn hasn’t been reseeded in 4 years or more it’s time to do so.

One of the most important aspects to consider when planning to reseed your lawn, is timing. In northern regions late summer to early fall is best, followed by late spring as a second option; in southern regions fall is best. This is because grass seed will germinate the most quickly and efficiently when soil temps are above 65℉

Reseeding your lawn can be accomplished in four steps: prepping the area, seeding, fertilizing, and watering.

  1. Prep your lawn.
    1. Aerate or de-thatch the existing lawn. This removes clipping, thatch, and other debris while loosening the soil.
    2. Mow the lawn extra short and bag all of the grass clippings, Grass seeds can then fall to the soil surface and receive sunlight and water.
  1. Put down seed.
    1. Choose a high-quality seed recommended for your local climate and the specific shade/sun conditions for your yard.
    2. Apply seed to your lawn at the recommended rates on the label for overseeding. Use a drop or broadcast spreader for larger lawns; seed by hand when working with small areas.
  1. Fertilize to encourage strong growth after germination.
    1. Apply a starter fertilizer on any lawn areas where you put down seed. Most big name fertilizer companies have products formulated specifically to encourage new turf growth. Avoid anything with a pre-emergent as this inhibits germination.
  1. Water the seed frequently.
    1. It’s important to keep the soil moist at all times to facilitate germination. Frequent, light waterings 3-4 times a day are recommended for the first handful of days. After 4-5 days switch to heavier waterings, once daily to encourage deeper root growth. Use a smart irrigation controller to manage the frequency.


If your lawn is looking a little worse for wear, there’s no need to fret! Barring you don’t have a pest or disease problem there are many ways to try to revive it. If that doesn’t help you can try reseeding it to bring it back to its full glory!

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