I am tired of fighting the weeds and weedy grasses in my lawn. I am ready to start over. Is this a good time to replace or renovate a lawn?
Now is the very best time to plant lawns. The soil is still warm yet air temperatures are cooling — ideal for grass growth. Our natural fall rains will soon provide ideal moisture conditions. Seed or sod will sprout and grow quickly so it will not take much time to establish a beautiful lawn.
The first task is to remove the old grass using a sod cutter. Sod cutters are available at most rental agencies. The old sod will need to be hauled to a disposal location for plant materials.
For best long-term lawn performance, bark dust should be tilled into the soil before planting. Two to three yards of bark dust per 1,000 square feet are needed. It is usually available from the same place you take the old sod, so it could be brought back in return trips. Or you can arrange to have bark dust delivered. After tilling, rake to level the ground and spread lawn fertilizer before laying sod.
Sod can be picked up at full-service nurseries or big-box stores this time of year. If you have a large area, you should probably order ahead of time. You can also order directly from a nearby sod farm and have it delivered. Far West Turf Farm in Woodland is the nearest to Clark County (farwestturf.com) Measure your area and order about 10 percent extra.
It is best to start on a straight side and lay sod end to end in strips. Each new strip should be laid so that the ends match the middle of the previous strip. If there is a slope, strips should be laid across the slope.
The standard sod is perennial ryegrass. Turf-type tall fescue is a little coarser than ryegrass but is slightly lower maintenance.
Lawns establish quite quickly from seed this time of year so that is a good alternative to sodding. Seed is much cheaper than sod. Pro-time Lawn Seed (Ptlawnseed.com) in Portland has lawn-seed mixtures well adapted to our climate. They also offer some very interesting eco-friendly mixes.
I have used an alternate renovation method with good success. It is much less work than removing the old sod. With this method the existing lawn is sprayed with Roundup followed by a two-week waiting period. A second application of Roundup may be needed for areas that are still green.
Then three-way soil mix is applied at the rate of one yard per 1,000 square feet. If the old lawn is uneven, a slightly higher rate may be needed. Fertilizer is applied and seed is sown at a rate of 5 pounds per 1,000 square feet. Rake lightly so that about two-thirds of the seed is covered.
It is very important to keep the top of the soil constantly moist on newly seeded lawns for the first three weeks. That should not be much of a problem if we get our normal fall rains. A timer can be set up for three-minute sprinklings with an oscillating sprinkler if you do not have a sprinkler system.