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University of Minnesota Extension

Extension > Garden > SULIS > Maintenance > Sustainable Lawncare Information Series > Renovating an Existing Lawn to Achieve Sustainability > Determining When Renovation is Needed

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Determining When Renovation is Needed

In addition to introducing different types of grass into a lawn, renovation may also be considered when lawn quality has become unacceptable.

Dead lawn

Renovation is necessary when approximately 40 to 50 percent of the lawn is dead or has very sparse growth. This may be due to a variety of factors including:


Excessive thatch

If the lawn is soft and spongy when walking across it and responds poorly to regular watering and fertilizer applications this may be an indication of excessive thatch (greater than 3/4 inch). Thatch is a layer of partially decomposed grass stems, roots, and rhizomes (not grass clippings) at the soil surface but below the green vegetation.


Broad-leaved weeds

Another indicator that your lawn may need to be renovated is the presence of broad-leaved weeds (such as dandelion, plantain, and knotweed), or grassy weeds (such as crabgrass) covering about 40 to 50 percent of the lawn area and if there is insufficient existing turf cover to fill in the bare areas once the weeds are removed.


These are just three of many possible situations where lawn renovation might be considered. However, it is very important to determine the reasons for the lawn declining before renovating the area.

Make any changes in cultural practices or site conditions (where possible) before beginning a lawn renovation. Many times making modifications in basic lawn care practices or improving site conditions can bring a lawn back to good health and vigor such that renovation is not necessary.

The preferred time for lawn overseeding / renovation is from mid-August to early-September. The second best time is usually early spring just as the lawn is beginning to turn green and grow.

Proceed to Basic Steps for Lawn Renovation.

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