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Lawn look like this? How to prim & prep it for the season ahead

Is your backyard starting to look like a wasteland? Your brown and battered grass is dying for a little TLC, or else it’s going to be a long and hot summer without it! This expert horticulturalist shares her tips on how to take your lawn from a brown wasteland to a luscious greenscape. If you need some help, don’t forget about our directory of landscaping professionals!

Finally after all these months, I can see it. It’s a bit on the brown side and showing signs of wear from a long cold winter, but it is there. Yes, I am taking about my lawn. As gardeners, we often overlook our lawns. As homeowners, we often wish we didn’t have to cut it on those Saturday mornings when we want to be somewhere else. I look at a lawn when I am designing the same way interior decorators look at carpet or area rugs. It is the finishing touch to a great room.

Here are your go-to tools to cure your tired lawn:

Your lawn needs a lawn roller

I’m a fan of lawn rolling. Over the winter and as the frost leaves the ground, our lawns become the rolling hills of Kentucky. The idea behind lawn rolling is that by using a large machine that rolls over the lawn, the extra water is squeezed out, allowing it to flatten and be more level.

Ideally, you want to roll your lawn early in the spring when there’s still lots of water in it. If you wait until the lawn is too dry, you compact the lawn by squishing the air pockets out of the lawn and this can damage roots of the grass. Rolling the lawn helps to level out the soil and makes it so much easier to cut the grass during the summer. The wheels of the lawn mower roll so much better and you don’t have to push so hard.

Ready to get rolling? Take a look at this video – it gives you a tutorial on how to use this handy tool:

You can easily rent these materials from a local hardware store, or you can leave the work up to the landscaping professionals!

And aerating! (we didn’t say your lawn was low-maintenance)

Aerating is useful as well. The type of soil you have will dictate how often you should aerate your lawn. If you have sandy soil like I do, you only need to aerate every two or three years. If you have heavy soil that becomes hard by mid-summer, then aerate every year.

Here’s how it works:

  • The machine is used to cut cores or tubes out of your lawn.
  • Don’t worry about raking them up – the next time you cut your grass, the soil will break down and go back into the ground.
  • The cores are removed to allow air down deep into the ground and loosen up the area around them.
  • The final touch: Add grass seed to your lawn. It will get a great start to set its roots down deep in the ground.

happy man mowing lawn at home garden

What on earth does dethatching do?

A machine with forks on the front is used to dethatch a lawn. The machine pulls up old grass clippings matted down in your lawn. This should only be done if you have more than 7.5 centimetres of thatch.

First, let me explain more about thatch and its importance in your lawn.

  • Thatch is made up of grass clippings from when you cut your lawn.
  • These clippings break down to create an organic compost that is very rich in nitrogen (which helps your lawn stay green).
  • This thatch also provides a layer of protection for grass roots from the sun and helps to hold moisture into the soil.
  • Grass seeds also will use this to germinate new grass.
  • By pulling out all this thatch, you actually introduce more light to the soil surface and therefore more weed seeds can germinate.

I do believe there is a time and place for dethatching, but I think more often than not, it is not worth the work required to rake up all the thatch once it has been done.

So, how do I know if my lawn needs dethatching?

  1. Take a shovel, cut into your lawn and peel back the sod.
  2. You should see a layer of organic matter right at the soil surface.
  3. If this is 7.5 cm thick, then you should dethatch your lawn.

Woman is raking leaves on lawn in her back yard

If you don’t have these tools in your backyard shed, you’re in luck. You can rent them from your local hardware store. Here’s an estimate of how much that will cost:

Equipment4 Hours1 Week
Lawn Roller$11$64

Please note: this is just an estimate! Contact your local hardware store for rates.

Follow these steps to growing a lush green lawn that’ll be the focal point of your backyard all summer long.

That is, unless your backyard still looks like this and you don’t have that green thumb to nurse it back to health:


If this is the case, then why not leave the work to the experts? We have an extensive directory of landscaping professionals who are not only experienced in building backyard landscapes, but maintaining yards. Contact one of them, let them visit your home and discuss what needs to be done to the property to get it summer-ready. Time is running out!

About the Author: Denise Hodgins who is a horticulturalist based in London, Ontario.

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