Reestablishment— giving yourself a brand new lawn

Reestablishing a lawn goes a step further than the renovation process. This method is called for when there are serious soil problems or drainage issues that need to be corrected. Reestablishment definitely calls for professional help.

The basic steps are a little different from the renovation process. Instead of killing the lawn with a herbicide, it is just removed. This may be done by hand or with a sod cutter. Whatever the process, the sod is gone. The soil is then tilled with a power tiller.

Additional soil is added to correct for slope and drainage problems. Remove any large rocks you encounter, but it's not necessary to remove all stones. Ideally, topsoil depth should be at least 4" — 8".

If adding topsoil, purchase from a reputable supplier. See note on how to calculate cubic yards needed. Once spread, till-in new topsoil with the existing soil so it gets mixed thoroughly. It is very important that you not alter the grade of the soil except to improve drainage. Care should be taken to always have the grade slope away from the house, but it should not block the natural drainage of adjacent properties. Improper grading could cause problems for your neighbors and your neighbors could cause problems for you by making you correct the situation months, even years later, when they discover their backyard now has a pond forming every time it rains hard.

Smooth out the soil so there's no dips or high points. For seeding, the soil depth should be about ½" lower than hard surfaces such as your patio or sidewalk. For sodding, it should be about 1-½" lower than these hard surfaces. At this point, you can roll the soil before seeding. Don't over compact the soil. Never use a roller on an established lawn.

Seeding: A drop spreader works best, compared to a broadcast or rotary spreader. If using a rotary spreader, cut the recommended rate by half and go in two opposite directions. Lightly rake the soil with an upside down rake. Don't over rake and try not to cover the seeds with more than ¼" of soil. Mulch with straw (not hay). A bale of straw will cover about 2,000 square feet. A simple rule of thumb is that about half the soil will be visible.

Apply a starter fertilizer then water lightly and often. Never ever let the soil dry out until the seeds germinate which may mean several waterings in one day in hot weather. Once the seedlings emerge, you can begin cutting back on the number of waterings and gradually increase the quantity of water to that it penetrates deeper. Cut the grass when it reaches about 3".

Calculating topsoil amounts

Calculating amount of topsoil needed: Bulk topsoil is normally sold by the cubic yard. To calculate the amount needed, measure the square footage of the yard then multiply that by the depth. For example: 100' wide x 150' long x 3" deep (convert the depth of topsoil desired to a fraction of 12. In this case 3" is actually 3/12= .25'). So, 75 x 100 x .25= 1875 cubic feet. To convert that to cubic yards, divide by 27. 1875/27=70 cubic yards. Add a couple cubic yards for spillage and settling.