Replace existing lawn

Hi, our current lawn is looking a bit tired and the garden needs leveling off. I'm trying to work out if I need to remove the existing lawn or can I just dig the whole lot over, level it out then put topsoil and seed / turf.
Basically I'm looking for the easiest why to level out our bumpy garden and get some nice grass down before next summer !
Thanks
--
Laurence

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If you look back a month or so in this group, you will find another thread where a similar question was asked and answered. It comes up frequently. An important part of the answer is it all depends on what you have there now and how you want it to look to be satisfied. If you have a decent amount of desirable grass, it's not disease prone, you are not looking for a uniform look as far as texture and color, the soil is OK, then overseeding could be the way to go. On the other hand, if you have a lot of crap, course grass that looks like hell, then killing it off with Roundup and reseeding could be the way to go. Even if you decide to go that route, as long as the topsoil is OK and off sufficient depth, then there is no need to till it all up. You can spray it with Roundup, mow it short 7-10 days later when it's dead, then go over it with a core aerator. Add topsoil in spots needed to level it out, then go over it with a slice seeder to apply the new high quality seed.
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wrote:

If you look back a month or so in this group, you will find another thread where a similar question was asked and answered. It comes up frequently. An important part of the answer is it all depends on what you have there now and how you want it to look to be satisfied. If you have a decent amount of desirable grass, it's not disease prone, you are not looking for a uniform look as far as texture and color, the soil is OK, then overseeding could be the way to go. On the other hand, if you have a lot of crap, course grass that looks like hell, then killing it off with Roundup and reseeding could be the way to go. Even if you decide to go that route, as long as the topsoil is OK and off sufficient depth, then there is no need to till it all up. You can spray it with Roundup, mow it short 7-10 days later when it's dead, then go over it with a core aerator. Add topsoil in spots needed to level it out, then go over it with a slice seeder to apply the new high quality seed.
The above advice is misleading at best -- the real answer is that it all depends upon where you live and what type of grass you have. Seeding is rarely the best way to redo a lawn, and never the easiest way, which was the question.
In many parts of the U.S. there are no sources for seeds of the preferred turf varieties such as varieties like floratam, bitter blue or palmetto - sod and plugs are the only quality anwer. You can either resod or use the lower cost alternative of putting in plugs of the right variety and allowing them to take over the bare spaces. If you want to take care of a few rough spots, just level the ruts, install a few plugs and let them take over. It won't be too long before you'll have a nice smooth lawn back. For larger areas, sod will give you almost instant gratification and a better lawn than other choices.
The people with the specific answers are not on Usenet, they're your local Master Gardeners and extension service.
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And here comes Jim, adding little, but jumping on others who provide useful and correct advice. I clearly told Laurence that it depends on what he has there now and how he wants it to look. Any reasonable person would take that to include the type of grass.

Total BS. He never asked for what was easiest. He asked if he needed to remove the existing turf first or just till it and level. That doesn't sound like someone looking for doing it the easy way. If you want easy, just open the yellow pages and get a contractor to do the whole job.
Seeding is both effective and relatively easy. I know because I've done it many times,

That's true and for good reason. Those are St Augustine varieties, which are warm season grasses and won't grow in 80% of the US.

And how are those grasses going to do in the UK? See any of it growing there? If you bothered to look where his post originated, and the terminology he used, ie "garden" for lawn, that's where it appears he's from. You jump on me about grass type, then turn around and rant about warm season grass plugs.

Where do you think sod comes from? A sod factory? It's grown from seed on a sod farm. It will give you no better a lawn than seeding properly with the same seed yourself. It will however, cost a lot more.
It is instant gratification, but again, I didn't see that mentioned as a requirement. And it isn't easier than seeding. He can aerate, add topsoil to low spots, then use a slice seeder to apply the seed. You can do a 10,000 sq ft lawn easily in less than a day.
With sod, he has to do ALL the work that he had listed, ie he has to till up the whole thing up and deal with the chopped up existing turf. He apparently realizes that, hence his question about dealing with the existing turf. Anyone who's attempted to level a lawn full of dead grass clumps knows how much work that is. And then he has to lay down the sod, which is no small task either.
Don't get me wrong. Sod can be a great solution depending on the right application. But you have to weigh the cost/benefits and figure out if it's right for you.

If that's the case, why are you here giving answers? Isn't this Usenet?
If you want to see what an extension service has to say, here's just one example that is consistent with everything I outlined in my post and applies to cool season grasses in the UK as well.
http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/DG3914.html
A simple googling of lawn renovation will produce many other examples. Is suggest Laurence do that, then he can figure out who knows what they're talking about.
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wrote:

[--]>
[--]
Please go back and reread the original - the specific question was "Basically I'm looking for the easiest way to . . .
[--]

He specifically asked for the "easiest" - that's sod or plugs

You are wrong here, also. The reason you can't buy seeds is because they don't exist - these are sterile hybrids which do not produce seed. They reproduce by vegetative reproduction, as do some of the other better quality turf grasses, cold and warm weather.
There are lower quality turf types which do produce seed, but sod from a good source is almost invariably a higher quality product.

There's nothing in there about warm season grass plugs! Read it again - get plugs of the right variety !!

Wrong again. I live in the middle of a huge sod-growing region. All of the quality sod here is grown from vegetative reproduction, for reasons of bioloogy, cost and quality.
[--]

And with seed, he has to do all of the same preliminary work, then seed, water, keep the pets out, worry about heavy rains and washouts, keep the irrigation right, watch out for weeds growing into the new growth -- face it, seeding is not the easiest way for him to fix his lawn. It may be the cheapest, but only if you put no cost value on your personal time that has to be spent caring for the newly seeded lawn.

You have another error - what I was pointing out is that there are more options available, that some of your recommendations don't pass the smell test, and the easiest method may actually be sprigs and plugs of the local varieties, which in most of the UK are readily available at gardeners and even some of the larger chemists. (I've lived in the UK for awhile --) [--]

Only half an error - you've got to rely on local knowledge because local conditions - climatic, cultural, financiall, etc. -- will dictate the right answer. Going on to the internet for the answer means you have to wade through thousands of references that ultimately will not apply to your particular situation, and with recommendations that only apply somewhere else.
One of your problems seems to be that you only have local knowledge and are trying to apply it universally. Otherwise, why would you be wrong about so many of the elements in the OP's question?
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Are you totally stupid? The OP never asked what was easiest. He asked:
"Hi, our current lawn is looking a bit tired and the garden needs leveling off. I'm trying to work out if I need to remove the existing lawn or can I just dig the whole lot over, level it out then put topsoil and seed / turf. "

More total BS, he never used the word easiest, or anything even close to it.

More complete BS. You don't see St Augustine, which are the varieties you listed in most of the US, like in NJ or Chicago because they won't grow there.

And yet more total BS. Most of the sod farms are planting seed that is available, in most cases, to anyone. Plant the same seed and you have the same grass.

What the hell are those varieties of St Augustine that you recommended? Do they grow in the UK? Idiot!

And more BS. Most sod and certainly the sod in the UK, is grown from seed.

Wrong yet again. He doesn't have to till the whole yard or remove the existing turf to re-seed. All he has to do is kill it off with Roundup, mow it close, rake, then use a slice seeder. The difference in work is huge, as anyone that has wrestled with what you have after you till a yard full of existing turf.

A new invention, he never mentioned pets. Even if he has them, keeping them out of an area for 2 months doesn't seem a huge obstacle.

Mainly an issue on grades, again he never mentioned any grades.

Well, Duh! I guess you don't have to water new sod according to you, right?

Done in Fall, weeds are not a major issue. Sure, he may have to take a 2 gal tank sprayer and hit some weeds in the spring, but so what? Does that mean it's forget it and let's go with $$$$ sod?

He never said he wanted the easiest solution, idiot. If he wants that, he can just open the yellow pages and get someone to do the whole thing, start to finish.

Yeah, it's real difficult programming an irrigation controller. And even if he uses SOD, he still has to water it, so it ain't much different from that aspect.

No, you started off by saying the advice I gave was "misleading at best". Had you just stated "other options", we probably wouldn't be here now. And then you went on to say:
"The people with the specific answers are not on Usenet, they're your local Master Gardeners and extension service. "
Which slams everyone giving advice here. And yet, here you are, giving advice. Idiot.

I'll let other judge who's wrong here. You are the one ranting on recommending St Augustine for a guy in the UK. You're the one claiming that a lawn renovation using seed is a bad idea, when everyone else, including the link I provided to a university, say it works.
How about a link for using St Augustine in the UK? Idiot.
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wrote:

[Irrelevant comments from someone who hadn't read the question (which I've repeated, above) snipped --]
You asked for the easiest way -- To repeat my answer to your question - In my opinion, and backed up by having lived in the UK for awhile, the easiest way to do what you want is to fill in the ruts and get some plugs of the turf variety that suits your climate and give them a little time to grow in. Anything else is overkill. I suggest this with experience living in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia, and with a background that includes extensive homeowner assistance programs for environmental horticulture.
There seems to be some background noise on this thread from someone who didn't read your question, then tried to misread into the reasonable answer things that were not there - who wants to apply a Pennsylvania solution to a UK question. You don't need to kill off your existing turf just to improve it, and you certainly don't need to go to the expense and trouble of completely reseeding if your existing lawn is the way you've described it.
There are probably still some people around that have to use seed because they can't afford anything better, but at least in this area I have not seen anyone use seed to either start a new lawn or refurbish an older one. No one - not the builders, not the golf courses, not the resorts, not the turf farms, and certainly not the homeowners -- use seed. They all use sod, sprigs and plugs, and both the state extension service and the Master Gardener program recommend using sod and not seed. Everyone understands that using sod produces a better, more weed-free lawn for a lot less effort. It also takes much less water to maintain, important in many areas these days. In this area, a lawn grown from seed is not going to be a quality product.
Now, while this area is not the UK, this points out the benefits of using sod, which is now the methodology of choice throughout much of North America. If you can get sod plugs of the right variety in the UK, and my experience suggests you can, then that's the easiest method, which answers your question. I used to get my things from a chemist shop on the road going west out of Greenham Common, where the proprietor dabbled in gardening things at the side of his building, but I'm sure his shop is replicated in other parts of the UK.
In fact, around here the only place I know of that uses seed is Fish and Wildlife, which uses a coarse grass seed on its dove fields to attract birds and get the fields ready for the fall dove season. So unless you're trying to create a bait station within shotgun range . . .
Regards --
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The OP posted his question once and hasn't been seen since. So, obviously, you're not ignoring my posts, but rather won't directly address them because you know you are dead wrong.

And what specific plugs would those be to use in the UK? The UK isn't Florida. It's an area suited to cool season grasses, which are established from seed.
I'd like you to show us any widespread availability in the UK of plugs for turf. Show us a website. Show us where he can buy St. Augustine in the UK. I can show you plenty of websites selling seed, because that's how most cool season grasses are established.
Here's just one from the UK for you:
http://www.jubilee-seeds.co.uk/acatalog/lawn_maintenance_service.html
Not only do they sell seed, no plugs, but their procedures for lawn renovation are very close to what I recommended and which you called "misleading at best".


God help those who listened to you.

Funny how companies in the UK offer basicly the same advice that I gave and sell no warm season St. Augustine grass plugs, which is what you recommended.
>You don't need to kill off your existing turf just to improve

Yes, which is why in my answer to the OP I stated:
"An important part of the answer is it all depends on what you have there now and how you want it to look to be satisfied. If you have a decent amount of desirable grass, it's not disease prone, you are not looking for a uniform look as far as texture and color, the soil is OK, then overseeding could be the way to go. On the other hand, if you have a lot of crap, course grass that looks like hell, then killing it off with Roundup and reseeding could be the way to go. "


And there we have it. The village idiot thinks because he lives where warm season grasses are prevalent that this applies everywhere. Come to the rest of the US, where cool season grasses prevail and they are established from seed or sod, not plugs. Now what should I believe, my eyes, where when I drive around the nj/ny/pa area and see lawns being done with seed, or you? Try googling "hydroseed". Funny if seeding is rarely used that there are boat loads of companies offering this service. I see their trucks all the time. And boat loads of seed companies selling seed.
Don;t get me wrong, sod is widely used too. But it's not that it dominates and is the right solution and the other is "rarely" used. Show us a reference that backs up your claim that seed is rarely used to establish turf in the USA.

Total BS. The grass seeds used here to grow turf are available to anyone. Plant them and once established you have the exact same grass. . The drought tolerance is specific to the species, not whether it was bought as sod or seed.

Yeah, but the guy is in the UK, where cool season grasses are used.

No question there are benefits to sod. It however is not a slam dunk for someone considering a lawn renovation, which is what the OP asked about. How is it that you go from one choice is that he doesn't need to kill off his lawn and reseed, to LAY DOWN SOD, but the range of solutions I suggested were "misleading"?
Try opening your eyes. Google "lawn renovation" and you will come up with hundreds of hits from reputable websites, like the university I previously gave you, that offer advice consistent with what I posted.

I looked at a few UK turf/seed suppliers and I found NO St. Augustines, NO plugs. Only seed and sod. Here's one example:
http://www.turfshop.co.uk
So, show us some links of companies offering sod plugs in the UK. Still think St. Augustines, which you recommended, is used there?

So, you buy turf supplies from a drug store. That fits in.

Again, the world is bigger than your backyard. Do a simple Google for grass seed and see how many hits you get for the USA. See how many companies are offering seeding services, lawn renovation, using seed. Go down to the garden, home centers, or agri supply companies around ALL the USA and see what they have.
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