Tired of scruffy looking grass and thinking about a lawn renovation?

Dry, brown and full of weeds? If your lawn no longer looks good, you can do something about it. We will show you how to improve it.

To renew the lawn, a woman scrapes weeds out of the ground with a rake.

How to renovate and renew a lawn

Not every lawn needs to be renewed outright. You can often thicken your lawn with a little first aid and support for the grass, especially if the surface is still predominantly made up of grass blades. First, remove any visible weeds. This can be done by hand, or you can use a cultivator to help. Mow the lawn and add organic grass fertiliser. Then water the surface and leave the lawn to grow. Once the grass is 5 to 6 cm long, mow the lawn back to a length of 4 cm and continue weekly. Remember that weeds will quickly take over the lawn without regular maintenance. The intelligent iMOW® robotic lawnmower from STIHL, which independently mows the grass regularly, is a pragmatic helper when it comes to keeping your lawn in good shape. 

Grass can be very demanding and requires appropriate care. If it is cut too short, bare patches and gaps will creep in from time to time. However, our tips will show you how to repair your grass and get it back in great condition. Grass diseases are also an issue that can be overcome with early diagnosis.

Kaputter Rasen in einem Garten vor dem Reparieren

Lawn Repair

Bare patches, holes and discolouration are annoying for every gardener and should be treated in good time. In our guide you can find out all about the various causes - and what you can do about them.

If the lawn has more than just a few bare or brown patches and now has large gaps or the entire surface has become an eyesore due to the many weeds, then it is time to completely renew your lawn. We will show you two methods for the long-term renewal of your lawn.

Redoing a lawn without digging it up: Five steps for luscious, healthy grass

If you want to renovate a lawn effectively but with minimal effort, this method is ideal. It will allow you to renew your grass and save yourself the hassle of digging it up. Here’s how to do it:

A woman mowing her lawn with a STIHL RMA 339 C cordless lawn mower to prepare it for renewal

Step 1: mow

Mow your lawn short – lower than would be advisable for a healthy lawn. This will prepare the area for the next steps. Cut the grass as short as your lawn mower allows.

Person scarifying a lawn with a STIHL RLA 240 electric lawn scarifier to prepare it for rejuvenation

Step 2: scarify

You should also go further than usual when completing the next step: Scarify the surface as deeply as possible so that you reach the soil surface. Take regular breaks when working on larger areas.

Weeds are raked away to renew the lawn

Step 3: remove weeds

Scrape away any remaining weeds from the surface with a metal rake. Work as carefully as possible, especially for root-propagated weeds.

Person uses a spade to mix potting soil and lawn seeds in a wheelbarrow

Step 4: mix soil with seeds

Take a wheelbarrow and mix simple potting compost with high-quality lawn seed. The soil doesn't have to be expensive – cheap potting soil is good enough and will save you money. However, the lawn seed you use should be high quality: it grows better and is usually more robust in the long term. Grass varieties from well-known brands are generally a good choice. Add 350 to 400g of grass seed per 80 litres of soil.

Woman spreads seed-soil mixture on lawn with a broom to renew the lawn

Step 5: distribute seed and soil mixture

Spread the soil and seed mixture on the lawn. This is best done with a simple broom, and 80 litres of soil is enough to renew a lawn area of 10 m2. Keep the surface moist until the grass seeds germinate. You will soon have a new, more lush green space to enjoy.

Completely renewing a lawn by digging it over

Completely renewing a lawn is the most thorough but also the most complex method. It should always be the last resort for solving your lawn problems. We recommend digging out the grass surface and creating a completely new one. Early autumn is a great time to do this. The temperature does not usually fall below 10 degrees even at night, which helps the grass seeds germinate.

Woman digging a trench at the edge of a lawn with a spade in order to subsequently renew the lawn.

Step 1: remove turf if necessary

Depending on how firm the turf is, you can either dig up the surface directly or, if it is harder, you should first remove the remaining turf. This means more work, but it often can't be avoided, especially on heavy clay soils.

Woman renews her lawn by digging up the ground with a spade

Step 2: dig up the lawn

Whether or not you have removed the turf, first dig a trench at the edge of the area that is about as deep as your spade and equally wide – this is called a furrow. Keep the earth you remove, as you’ll need it to refill the lawn once you have reached the end of the area – so the furrow moves along with each row you dig up.

Excavated soil is poured into prepared trench with a wheelbarrow to renew lawns

Use a spade to cut out individual pieces of soil and place them upside down on the rear edge of the groove. Any remaining grasses and weeds are now also lying upside down or in the furrow and will simply die off. Continue row by row until you have reached the end of the area. Here, fill the trench with the soil laid aside at the beginning. The soil has now been loosened.

Depending on the soil condition, you may also want to improve the soil during this process. If you have loamy soil, add coarse construction sand and compost to the furrow. To improve the structure, you will only need to add compost or cheap potting soil to sandy soils.

Earth is smoothed with a rake to renew lawns

Step 3: prepare the surface

Now take a rake and use it to smooth the surface and remove any weeds you can still see. It's important to ensure that the surface is level. A wooden rake is more practical for this job, as the prongs of metal rakes can easily get stuck in the loose soil.

Woman levels the ground with a roller

Step 4: roll

For the next step, level the ground with a roller. This is important for preventing uneven patches, such as footprints, from remaining and becoming permanent. Run the roller over the area in lines. These lines should overlap slightly. You can hire a soil roller from your local DIY store.

Did you know? The rollers are usually hollow and filled with water before use, making them easier to transport.

Woman loosens the soil with a wooden rake in order to sow grass seeds there afterwards

Step 5: reseed

First, loosen the soil surface with a wooden rake so the grass seeds will immediately get good soil contact. Now it’s time to sow your new lawn! Make sure that you select a suitable grass variety appropriate for local conditions and meets your requirements. After all, you want your renewed lawn to grow well, and it is usually delicate at first. We recommend that you use high-quality seed mixtures which contain robust grasses that form runners, as these will thicken beautifully and remain thick, even with regular mowing. If you are unsure, you can always ask a specialist retailer for advice.

It is best to spread grass seed directly on the surface with an organic fertiliser for new lawns. You can also add a layer of potting soil on top to keep the seeds moist and protect them from hungry birds. 

For more information about lawn types and the sowing process, see our guide on How to lay a lawn.

Woman watering a freshly sown area of the lawn with a watering can

Step 6: water

The last step when you renew your old lawn is to water it regularly to keep the seeds nice and moist until they germinate. Soon you will have a lush green lawn in your garden again.

Our tip: when the surface of the soil lightens in colour, it's time to water it again. Grass is a thirsty plant and transpires a good 4 litres of water per square metre per day. Only well-watered grass is robust and remains vital. We recommend watering the lawn thoroughly just once a week. This forces grass to send its roots deep into the ground to access the groundwater. These long roots help the turf to better survive hot conditions.

Renewing your grass: rolled turf or seed?

How you renew your lawn also depends on your budget. Rolled turf can certainly be a solution if you want the process to be faster or you want to minimise the workload. However, rolled turf is much more expensive than sowing a new lawn.

It's important that you also select the appropriate type of turf if opting for rolled. When the turf is delivered, it must be rolled out and watered without delay so that it will grow well.

How much does a lawn renovation cost?

In principle, a lawn that has large gaps and is overgrown with weeds can be renewed quite easily. It does not involve any major investments and only requires that you put in some time working on it. If, on the other hand, you decide to completely replace and dig up the lawn, it can be more expensive. The most expensive option would be rolled turf, but this is also the choice that saves you the most time. Our tip: do not scrimp on grass seeds as high-quality seeds produce better grasses, which you can then enjoy for longer.

Lawn care tips

To see the effort you put into renewing the turf pays off, you should take regular care of the new grass so that it remains beautiful and dense, even years later. In this case, you really do get out what you put in because if you want your lawn to remain a dense, lush green carpet, regular fertilising is just as important as cutting and watering it correctly. If you get careless about maintaining your lawn, weeds and moss are waiting for their chance to take over. You can find out more about this subject in our lawn care tips for all seasons.

A beautiful, large garden with a well-kept, lush lawn

Summary: renewing your grass

  • Does your lawn have brown patches, moss, or weeds here and there? You don't necessarily have to dig it over right away. Find out more in our lawn repair guide
  • Mow your lawn correctly so that it does not suffer. We recommend mowing once a week but not cutting the grass too short.
  • You can renew your lawn without digging it over by mowing and then deeply scarifying it. Afterwards, spread a mixture of potting soil and seeds on the surface.
  • When renewing and reseeding your lawn, ensure that you use a high-quality, suitable seed mixture.
  • Digging over your lawn should be the last resort.
  • Rolled turf is another way to completely renew a lawn.