Create a healthy lawn by starting over
Let's get this straight right from the get-go: A healthy lawn doesn't get taken over by weeds. So if it looks like you're raising weeds instead of grass, that's a sign of a more serious problem. And that may mean killing off the grass and starting over. It's a big project that'll take several weekends and may cost you around 25? per sq. ft. for equipment rentals, soil conditioners and seed. If you're willing to spend more, you can lay sod instead of planting seed, but don't skip the soil testing and remediation steps.
Are you ready for a fresh start? Just follow our guide and you'll be the happiest gnomeowner on your block.
Evaluate Your Lawn
Going 'nuclear' shouldn't be your first option. Instead, start with spot applications of weed killer, dethatching and core aeration. But if you still see more than 60 percent weeds at the start of the next growing season, your lawn is too far gone to save. Your best option is to nuke it and replant.
Note: Find out how to dethatch and aerate for greener, healthier grass, here.
Step 1: Get a soil analysis
Don't even think about replanting until you get the results of a soil analysis. Contact a local extension service or search the Internet for a soil-testing lab near you. Select three different locations around your lawn and collect samples. Plunge your spade about 6 in. deep and pull out a plug of soil. Then slice off a section of the plug (top to bottom). Remove the grass and rocks, mix all the samples together and scoop the soil into a container. Note on the lab form that you'll be planting new grass and whether you bag the clippings when you mow or return them to the lawn. In a couple of weeks, you'll get a report with recommendations about which fertilizers or soil treatments to add.
Step 2: Kill everything
You can kill the grass with chemicals like Roundup or Killzall. But if you hate the idea of using chemicals and have a large area, rent a sod cutter to remove the lawn surface. Or kill the grass by blocking out its sunlight with black poly film (4-mil or thicker) secured with rocks or stakes. Remove the poly when the grass is dry and brown (two to three weeks or longer, depending on the weather).