How to Restore a Lawn

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required
  • Broadcast spreader
  • Cultivating rake
  • Hand cultivator
  • Leaf rake
  • Hose and sprinkler
Materials Required
  • Soil test kit
  • Grass seed
  • Starter fertilizer
  • Soil amendments
  • Mulch or hay

Before You Begin

Test your soil with a soil test kit. You can get information at your local extension service office or buy a soil test kit at a lawn and garden center. Based on the recommendations, buy soil amendments to improve the condition of your soil.

Don't want to do this job yourself? To find a landscape contractor who has the skills and tools to do it right, click Home Advisor and it will open in a new tab and you’ll have to answer some basic questions about your job followed by contractors in your area to do the job.

  • Step 1 : Remove weeds, rocks and old turf

    Prepare the area for renewal by removing weeds and rocks. For small areas work on your knees with a hand cultivator, use a cultivating rake for larger sections.

  • Step 2 : Rake and aerate the soil

    Rake the area with a leaf rake removing any clumps in the patched area. To remove excessive patches of thatch, rent a power rake (also called a vertical mower) and use it to remove the thatch. If water doesn't penetrate the soil and it is compacted, rent an aerator and use it to poke holes in the soil and improve drainage.

  • Step 3 : Level the soil

    If you've removed a lot of soil, add new topsoil and spread the soil back and forth with a rake until the surface of the patched area is level with the surrounding soil.

  • Step 4 : Add amendments to soil

    Enhance the soil with whatever materials are suitable for the condition of your soil (based on the results of your soil test.) This can include organic matter, fertilizer, lime or sulfur, or other nutrients to nourish your soil.

  • Step 5 : Apply a starter fertilizer and seed

    Water the soil and then use a broadcast spreader to apply starter fertilizer and grass seed following the manufacturer's directions. Then cover the seeds with a thin layer of hay or mulch to protect them from high wind and heavy rain.

  • Step 6 : Water on regular basis

    Every few days, depending on if it rains, give the newly seeded area a good soaking. Continue with regular water until the new turf is full and strong.