illustration of root structure in grass.

Lawn Renovation: A Step-by-Step Guide to Transforming Your Lawn


Welcome to this week's blog post on lawn renovation. In this post, I will be sharing with you a step-by-step guide on how to transform your lawn into a lush, healthy green space. We will discuss the tools and equipment needed, as well as the process of scarifying, aerating, overseeding, and top dressing your lawn. So let's get started!

The Tools You Will Need

Before we jump into the renovation process, let's take a look at the tools and equipment that are essential for this project. Here's what you'll need:

  • Hollow tine aerator: This heavy-duty tool is used to remove cores from your lawn, allowing for better airflow and water penetration.
  • Scarifier: Whether electric or petrol-powered, a scarifier is used to remove thatch and dead grass from the surface of your lawn.
  • Lawn mower: It's best to use an old or durable mower for this project, as it will be put through some heavy use.
  • Bucket or Hand spreader: This tool is used for spreading seed and fertilizer evenly across your lawn.
  • Levelling Lute: A levelling rake is used to even out the soil and create a smooth surface.

Step 1: Mow Your Lawn

Mowing your lawn is a great place to start, and its the one time in the year you'll get to break the "one third rule"!.  You need to cut the grass short to allow the scarifier to get through the grass into the thatch layer.  This is particularly important if your using an electric scarifier.  Start to lower the height of your cut over the preceding weeks, until its as low as your mower will go.  Be warned - you will be removing alot of grass!!

Step 2: Scarifying Your Lawn

The first step in the lawn renovation process is scarifying. This is the process of removing thatch and dead grass from the surface of your lawn. Using a scarifier, make several passes over your lawn to ensure that all the thatch is removed. You will notice the dead material and thatch coming off the surface as you scarify.  Adjust the depth of the scarifier until you are satisfied its getting right into the surface.  You should see lines in the soil.  You can hire a professional scarifier, or use an electric one, like this one from Hyundai we tested.  Rake up all the moss and thatch with a rake and bag it up.  You could use a rotary mower again to lift any thatch you missed with the rake.

Step 3: Aerate Your Lawn

After scarifying, it's time to aerate your lawn. This is where the hollow tine aerator comes into play. The aerator will remove cores from your lawn, creating holes for the seed, topsoil and fertiliser to penetrate, creating 1000's of mini plant pots where your new grass will eventually germinate. This process also helps relieve soil compaction and improves water and oxygen/carbon dioxide movement in the root zone.  Again, if you have a large lawn, you may want to hire a professional hollow tine aerator.  Top Tip: Get them to deliver it - its super heavy!  If your lawn is smaller, or if you just have a tight budget, you can use a manual hollow tine aerator fork, it will just take a little longer.  You can leave the cores on the lawn to break down naturally, but I collect them up with a rake so i can spread the top dressing unhindered.  If you are only aerating (a great practice to do a few times a year) you don't need to collect the cores.

Step 4: Overseeding

Once you have scarified and aerated your lawn, it's time to overseed. Using a broadcast or hand wound spreader, evenly distribute the grass seed across your lawn. Be sure to follow the recommended seeding rate for your specific grass type, which would usually be in the region of 35g per square metre. It's important not to over-seed, as this can lead to and overly dense lawn, meaning too much competition for nutrients and water, which will only encourage didease.

Step 5: Applying Fertiliser

After overseeding, it's time to apply fertiliser. Choose a pre-seed fertiliser that is high in phosphorus and potassium. These nutrients will help the new grass establish strong roots and improve disease resistance. Use the broadcast spreader or hand wound spreader to evenly spread the fertiliser across your lawn, again follow the recommended application rate (usually around 35g per square metre).

Step 6: Top Dressing

The final step in the lawn renovation process is top dressing. This involves spreading a layer of topsoil over the surface of your lawn. This helps to level out any uneven areas and provides a good growing medium for the new grass seed. I place it in piles across the lawn and then use a shovels to throw it, giving a fairly even coverage.  Using a lawn levelling lute, I run it back and forth, pushing the seed, fertiliser and top soil into the hollow cores that I created during aeration.  It also ensures a nice flat surface.

You can use compost to top dress your lawn, which is great for adding extra nutrients.  Germination is usually quite strong when using compost, however, it wont hold its form, so is useless for fixing small dips and hollows.  If you have a clay lawn, or one that hold water, I recommend a 70/30 or even an 80/20 sand/soil mix.  It will assist with drainage, create an aerated soil bed and also hold its form if levelling out small bumps and hollows.

Step 7: Water!

All this hard work can be for nought if you neglect to water your lawn over the coming weeks.  Your aim is to water the lawn 2 or even 3 times a day for the first 2 weeks to keep it moist.  Don't water so much that it puddles or washes away the seed.  In week 2 and 3 you can water a little less, until the grass seed has germinated.


And there you have it! A step-by-step guide to transforming your lawn through the process of scarifying, aerating, overseeding, and top dressing. Lawn renovation is an enjoyable job, but remember to trust the process - the results are well worth it. With proper care and maintenance, your lawn will soon be transformed into a lush, healthy green space that you can be proud of. So grab your tools and get started on your lawn renovation project today!  The only decision left is whether to renovate your lawn in the spring, or the autumn... but that's a topic for another day!

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