Wondering whether to call it quits on your lawn and start over?
A lot of people ask whether they should try and save a horrible looking lawn or just start over completely.
I can totally relate to this situation. After purchasing a property several years ago, the lawn had not been taken care of at all so I had to decide whether it was best to tear it all out and start over or try to save it.
It’s not usually an easy decision to make and I’ve seen several different approaches to handling a neglected lawn.
Some people will burn out a lawn after finding only a few weeds in it, while others will try and save something that barely resembles a lawn at all.
It’s important to know what factors should determine your decision, so that’s what I’ll cover here.
Before we look at some of the reasons why you might want to kill your lawn and start over, let’s look at some of the disadvantages of tearing out a lawn first…
Things to Consider Before Starting a Lawn Over
Burning your lawn and planting new seed or sod sounds easy right? WRONG. I’m here to tell you that it’s much harder than it seems.
Here are some of the reasons why….
It’s a Ton of Work
Depending on the size of your lawn. It can require some serious man power, heavy equipment and a few days of work to tear out your existing grass, resod or reseed your lawn.
The size of a lawn in the US can vary a lot, but the average is around 10,000 sq. ft which will require quite a bit of time and effort to tear out.
For those of you with smaller lawns, you can use chemicals like glyphosate to kill off the area, but this is not something i’m a big fan of…
Glyphosate Isn’t Great for Your Soil
Burning down the grass with glyphosate isn’t very healthy for your soil.
Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide meaning it will kill everything green. It works systemically so that it will move within the plant to kill it all off.
When you use glyphosate to kill off an area in your lawn, you also upset the balance in the soil.
You want to avoid killing off all of the soil organisms if possible.
Sometimes you don’t have any other choice though. If you’re looking to kill off everything in a lawn, it’s an certainly effective method.
Lawn Renovations Are Usually Expensive
This is probably the biggest factor to consider for most people, especially if you’re going to require help from a landscaping company.
Tearing out a lawn and rebuilding new turf can be very costly. The amount will depend a lot on the size of your lawn and will vary between different contractors, but it’s certainly not cheap.
You then have to consider the cost of installing your new seed or sod too. Once this has been done, it’s going to require a lot of maintenance costs if you want to keep it looking it’s best.
Reasons to Start a Lawn Over
Here are some signs that your lawn is too far gone. In some of these cases, you might be better off starting over.
You Have Too Many Uneven Areas on Your Lawn
The important thing to note here is that your lawn doesn’t need to be ‘level’ as such. Rather, it needs to slope consistently away from your house. Even if your lawn is level, you can still run the risk of flooding your house.
You also need to be able to cut the grass without scalping your lawn.
If your yard is really bumpy, you’ve really got no chance of getting a nice consistent cut. You may be able to get away with some lumpy spots if you have a mower with scalp wheels, but if you plan to use a reel mower, then forget it. You are going to need to level it out.
I’d never recommend starting a lawn over just because you have some uneven areas. If that’s your only reason, then I’d work on other ways to level out the lawn. However, if you’re having this problem in combination with some of the other ones mentioned in this article, you might want to consider starting your lawn over.
You Have Too Many Weeds
Sometimes a lawn is just full of weeds.
You may have so many that’s it’s totally out of control.
Of course, it’s also going to depend on the type of weeds you have.
I commonly see people misidentifying weeds, but it’s absolutely crucial that you identify them correctly if you’re using this as a reason to start over.
Some weeds are pretty easy to control with selective herbicides which will kill the weeds, but won’t hurt your turf grass.
With a proper lawn maintenance program, you can manage a lot of the common weeds and get the problem under control without killing off the whole area.
On the other hand, if you have a ton of grassy type weeds and perennials that are just going to keep coming back year after year, you may be better off call it quits.
Dallisgrass and Bermudagrass
I know lawn care business owners who won’t even bother trying to treat a lawn with a lot of dallisgrass in it. In this case, there’s nothing you can throw down to kill the dallisgrass that won’t also kill your turfgrass.
Another bad grassy weed is Bermuda grass. It’s very resilient and bounces back on anything which is why it’s put on golf courses and sports fields.
Most annuals can be controlled by putting down pre-emergents.
It really just depends on how much of your lawn has been taken over and what weeds you have.
You Have a Mix of Grass Types in Your Lawn
When you first move in to a property. You might find that there are many different types of grass in the lawn that don’t look good together.
If you have a total mix of grass species that don’t blend in well, your lawn is always going to look inconsistent, no matter how healthy the grass is.
In this case, I’d recommend starting over and planting a new species.
Inappropriate Grass Type for Your Area
You might also find that you have inherited a lawn with a grass type that is unsuitable for the conditions in your area.
There are a variety of warm and cool season grasses, each suited to a slightly different environment. Some grass types are more tolerant to shade and drought than others.
Your Preference Matters Too…
You might find that you prefer a certain species of grass. Personally, I love the look of a Bermuda lawn, but that’s just my personal opinion and you might like something different.
If do you have a Bermuda lawn, it is possible that it can crowd out other grass types. It’s a pretty tough species!
While it’s possible that it will take over other grass types, it’s important to recognise that this is not an overnight process. It can take several seasons for this to occur.
In any event, you’ll want to do a little research on what grass type you like the look of and what is going to thrive in your area.
You Have the Financial Means to Do It
Whichever way you look at it, doing a lawn renovation is expensive, especially if you’re hiring out a company or renting equipment.
I some cases you may need to rent a skid steer which can cost around $200 per day to rent.
You then need to pay for someone to take away the old material. Dumpster costs can add quite a bit to the cost too.
Be prepared for miscellaneous costs. If you haven’t done this before, you’re probably going to make a mistake so you’ll want to give yourself some room for extra costs you haven’t considered.
Finally, you have to factor in the cost of your new sod or seed.
While sod can be expensive, I much prefer it over seed, especially when renovating lawn. It’s probably more expensive than using seed initially, but it will likely save you money down the road and you’ll start out with a higher quality turf early on.
Also, after tearing out the turf, the ground is going to be completely exposed. When you put down a layer of sod, it blocks out the sunlight which can help prevent other weeds coming up. The turf mat also contains some soil which contain useful microbes too.
Sod usually costs a little over $1 per sq. ft, although it can vary between companies and the grass type you’re putting down.
A lot of seed bags will contain a ton of weeds to which may be the problem that you’re trying to address in the first place.
Starting your lawn over is not an easy task. Before you considering doing it, make sure you have weighed up all the costs and benefits of your situation.
What’s worth it to one person, may not be worth it to someone else. This is especially true in lawn care. Some people are not looking for the perfect lawn, but if you’re willing to go all out to get the best looking lawn in the neighborhood then maybe starting over again is the best choice.
Let me know what you decide to do!