How To Renew Your Lawn Without Digging It Up

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If you want to renew your lawn, you do not necessarily have to dig it up: There are different methods with and without digging up. Depending on the method, the right time to renew the lawn also differs.

Weeds instead of grass, everything full of moss or bare patches: There are many reasons to renew an unkempt lawn. Fortunately, it’s not that difficult, and in many cases you don’t even have to dig up the lawn with a spade to do it. We’ll show you how to renew your lawn with and without digging – and when you really need to reach for the spade.

Renewing the lawn without digging – in 5 steps

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In most cases, you can renew your lawn without digging it up. It’s not difficult, but you should have some time. The ideal time is between May and September.

Step 1: Mowing the lawn

How To Renew Your Lawn Without Digging It Up

The first thing you need to do is mow the lawn. To do this, set the lawn mower to the lowest setting. If the lawn is very tall, you may need to mow it twice, otherwise the mower will be overwhelmed by the long blades of grass. It is important that you cut the lawn directly above the turf.

Step 2: Scarify the lawn

After you have mowed the lawn, you need to rid it of moss, unwanted weeds and matted grasses. So you have to scarify the lawn. The best way to do this is with a scarifier, which you can borrow from many hardware stores. Its blades cut the soil several millimeters deep, loosening moss and matted areas, for example. You must then collect these with a rake and a wheelbarrow.

Step 3: Fertilize the lawn

If there is a lot of moss in the lawn, this is an indication of nutrient deficiency, especially nitrogen deficiency. Low pH (very acidic soil) can also lead to moss. A good organic bio-fertilizer is always very useful if you plan to renew your lawn. If you have a very heavy moss infestation, you should get a pH test from the hardware store and if the pH is low, you should also fertilize the lawn with lime. If your lawn has been neglected, we also recommend a starter lawn fertilizer with a high phosphorus content. It ensures fast lawn growth. We do not recommend chemical weed killers, as they can also harm animals and get into the groundwater.

Step 4: Sowing new lawn

After you have spread the fertilizer, you can sow a new lawn. There are special lawn seeds for renewing the lawn, but you can also use ordinary lawn seeds. Spread the seeds over the entire lawn.

Step 5: Maintain the lawn

Once the seeds are distributed, you can cover them with a thin layer of peat or humus. A mixture of sand and soil is also suitable. However, the layer should only be a maximum of three millimeters thick so that the seeds can germinate well. Finally, be sure to water the new lawn and keep it slightly moist for the following days and weeks.

Renewing the lawn with digging

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If you were unsuccessful in renewing your lawn, the only thing that will help is digging or peeling. The best time for this is in early autumn. In order for the lawn seeds to germinate, it should also be at least ten degrees warm at night. Both methods at a glance:

Peeling: To do this, you lift the top layer off the lawn with a spade. However, this is very strenuous, so a motorized lawn peeler is recommended for larger lawns. You can rent one at many hardware stores. Dispose of the removed sod in the compost, so that moss and weeds cannot spread further.

  • The advantage is that you can now sow grass on a smooth soil surface.
  • The disadvantage is that this means you lose the soil that has been removed.

Digging: You can use a lawn tiller (available for rent at home improvement stores) to dig up the entire lawn. The tiller shreds the lawn and loosens the soil. For smaller lawns, a spade is also sufficient.

  • The advantage is that no soil is lost.
  • The disadvantage is that the weeds remain in the soil and can spread more easily.

Digging up or peeling off the lawn

This is how you proceed after peeling off / digging over to renew your lawn:

  • Put a layer of sand of about five centimeters on the ground and then loosen it with a spade. In this way, you work the sand into the soil at the same time.
  • Smooth the soil with a rake and wait three to five days for the soil to settle.
  • Then spread organic fertilizer with high phosphorus content and lawn seed over the area.
  • Go over the seed and fertilizer with a rake to work it into the soil.
  • Then water the new lawn and keep it slightly moist over the next few days.

Tip: If the soil is particularly stressed, you can also wait until spring to fertilize and seed. Then the soil has enough time to settle.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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