Provisional Guidelines (iv)

Control of Chinch Bug in HRM Lawns:
Complete Lawn Renovation Option

Provisional Guidelines

A complete renovation is best done in spring, before the end of May, or in late summer (circa Aug 25 to Sept. 10).

It can be done in midsummer, but much more attention will need to be given to careful watering over the summer period.

If renovation is begun in early spring, there is time to allow about 3 weeks for weed seeds to germinate and then destroy the seedlings (item No. 7 below). If it is planned to seed or sod in late summer, the soil might be cultivated in mid summer to allow a weed flush before hand.

If there are problematical perennials in the existing sod such as couch grass, the sod could be removed early in the summer and soil cultivated manually or with a harrow or similar tool after each of 2 or 3 three-week to one month intervals to bring the rhizomes up and dry up on the surface. (Do not use a rototiller in that case because it will just fragment rhizomes and possibly make the problem worse.)

The asterisked items are ones that are encouraged in order to reduce reliance on chemical inputs; they may differ from standard renovation practices. Other steps are conventional practices and might be profitably modified by a contractor or according to other suggestions.

The Landscape Nova Scotia Soil and Compost Use Guidelines should be consulted. See references to those and other relevant materials on the Redesign page, including
  • in relation to fertilization, view materials on Nitrogen Fertilization and associated links on the Control Level 3 page;
  • in relation to mowing , view materials on Mowing and associated links on that page on the Control Level 3 page;
  • in relation to watering, view the About Watering Links on the Control Level 2 page.
1 Measure depth of soil before renovating by digging holes at several positions.
2 Remove the sod with a sod stripper or manually. (Put it in a pile and let it sit for a year for the vegetative matter to decompose; it will make excellent soil.)
3 Rotovate existing soil to just above the base if it is fill or gravel or similar subgrade, or 1 inch into subsoil.
4 Add:
  • Topsoil to bring the depth to at least 20 cm (8 inches), allowing for settling, or 23 cm (9 inches) if it is a poorly drained site (and/or install a drainage system). Use a standard grade manufactured topsoil. If it has a sandy loam texture (which most does), ask the soil supplier to mix it with **25% of a loam soil or 10 to 20% of a clay loam soil, to increase the clay content and natural water and nutrient-holding capacity. Alternatively these other soil types could be delivered to the site mixed after spreading.

  • **One to two inches of good quality compost (not mixed with sand).

  • **As available, Old topsoil, or old compost or manure that has been aged over soil (as opposed to a cement pad), to introduce beneficial soil organisms; a 1/4 inch layer would be appropriate, or more or less as available

  • Lime, potassium, phosphorus and other nutrients as indicated by soil tests but **do not apply extra fertilizer N; add nitrogen fertilizer only if the system will likely be nitrogen deficient (e.g., because the compost was not fully mature and contains a lot of carbonaceous material). Alternatively, add 1 lb of nitrogen per 1000 sq ft (0.5 kg N/100m2) in a low grade nitrogen fertilizer (10% N or less) and withhold subsequent fertilization to assess need for nitrogen by appearance.
5 Thoroughly mix the additions and work them in to 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches) depth with a rototiller or by mixing with a fork (for small areas). .
6 Rake the surface repeatedly with a stiff rake or roll the surface to get bumps out (use a light roller to avoid compacting the soil). .
7 **If time permits, water the soil and allow 2 to 3 weeks for a flush of weed seeds to germinate; then rake them to expose them and dry up on the surface. .
8 Overseed or sod.

Sodding: Currently, it appears that all sod sold locally has 80 to 100% Kentucky bluegrass (please inform us if there is sod with a more diversified mixture available).

**Such sod should be oversown in the fall and annually for perhaps two more years with a diversitying mixture of fescues and ryegrass. Consider including white clover.

When laying sod, rake the soil surface and water it lightly. Sod the edges first, stagger the seams, and pack the sods tightly. Completely soak the sod after it is laid down, and soak it daily in the afternoon. After 10 days, test rooting of the sod by pulling on grass; once the sod is well rooted in the soil, watering can be reduced.
9 Seeding: **Use a diverse seed mix. Consider including white clover. Rake the soil with a stiff rake to make shallow furrows (1.2 cm or 1/2 inch or less depth), and seed with a broadcast spreader or drop spreader.
10 Water daily until grass is well established. (Test by pulling on the grass) .
11 Begin Mowing when grass is well established (usually when it is about 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 cm) high). Maintain a high mowing regime with return of clippings.

Page posted 18 May 2004
Modified 17 Mar. 2005