The Ultimate Guide to Lawn Renovation in the UK: Tips, Tools, and Best Practices

Lawn renovation can breathe new life into a lawn and transform it into a beautiful space that enhances the appearance of your home and provides a space for you and your family to enjoy the outdoors (when the British weather allows). Whether you are dealing with patchy grass, weeds, or thin grass, renovation can address these problems and improve the health and beauty of your lawn.

In this comprehensive guide to complete lawn renovation, we will explore the steps you need to take for a successful lawn renovation in the UK - addressing some of the most common issues. We will cover everything from lawn renovation cost to the best practices, tools, and maintenance tips for a newly renovated lawn. In layman's terms, say goodbye to your ugly lawn and hello to a new lawn.

Common Lawn Problems

Before you start your lawn renovation project, it's important to identify the issues that are causing your lawn to look less than perfect. It can be hard work to renovate without knowing what problems you are dealing with.

Some of the most common lawn problems include patchy grass, weed grasses, thinning grass, moss, thatch, and poorly drained soil. These issues can be caused by a range of factors, including poor maintenance, foot traffic, pests, diseases, and weather conditions.

  1. Bare Patches: Patches are a common problem in lawns, especially in high traffic areas or areas with poor drainage. They can be caused by disease, pest infestations or over usage.

  2. Weeds: Weeds can quickly take over a lawn, competing for nutrients and water. Common weeds in the UK include dandelions, clover, and plantain.

  3. Moss: Moss thrives in damp, shaded areas and can quickly take over a lawn, suffocating the grass underneath. You'll notice this a lot during and following winter.

  4. Compacted Soil: Soil can become compacted over time, making it difficult for water, air, and nutrients to penetrate the soil and reach the roots of the grass. You may have clay soil which is particularly bad for compaction.

  5. Thin Grass: Thin grass can be caused by a lack of nutrients, poor soil quality, or disease.

  6. Uneven Surface: An uneven surface can be caused by subsidence or the settling of soil over time.

  7. Waterlogging: Waterlogging can occur when soil is compacted, or drainage is poor, leading to water pooling on the surface.

  8. Pest infestation: Garden pests can lay eggs in your lawn, causing significant damage and hindering your lawn renovation.

Best Practices for Lawn Renovation

The first step in lawn renovation is to remove the old grass and weeds, and prepare the soil for grass seed or turf. This can be done through a process called scarification, which involves using a mechanical scarifier or a spring tine rake to remove moss, thatch, and debris from the lawn. This will help to expose the soil surface, which will make it easier for the grass seed or turf to establish roots and grow.

After scarifying the lawn, it's important to aerate the soil to create small holes in the ground, allowing air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots of the grass plants. This can be done with a garden fork or a hollow tiner, which removes sand and small cores of soil from the lawn. This process will also help to improve soil contact with the grass seeds or turf, which is essential for successful growth.

Once the lawn has been scarified and aerated, it's time to add seed or turf to fill the bare areas. When using grass seed, it's important to spread it evenly across the entire lawn, ensuring that there is enough seed to cover the bare patches. It's recommended to use a thin layer of top dressing, which will provide nutrients and help to retain moisture for the new grass seed to germinate.

If you're suffering from any of the issues mentioned in the previous section that have not been mentioned here we will address these in more detail at end of this guide.

Recommended Tools and Equipment

Lawn renovation requires the use of several tools and equipment, depending on the size of the lawn and the extent of the renovation job. Some of the most important tools include a mechanical scarifier or a spring tine rake, a garden fork or a hollow tine, grass seed or turf, a spreader, top dressing, and a watering can or a sprinkler. For larger lawns, petrol machines may be needed to speed up the process.

Recommended Tools and Equipment:

  1. Lawn Mower: A good quality lawn mower is essential for maintaining a healthy lawn. Choose a model that suits the size of your lawn and the type of grass you have.

  2. Lawn Aerator: A lawn aerator will help alleviate soil compaction and improve the health of your lawn. You can choose from manual or powered models depending on your needs.

  3. Lawn Weed and Moss Killer: Use a weed and moss killer to get rid of unwanted growth in your lawn. Choose a product that is suitable for the type of weeds or moss you are dealing with.

  4. Grass Seed: Choose a grass seed mix that is appropriate for your lawn's condition and the amount of sunlight it receives.

  5. Lawn Fertiliser: Use a lawn fertiliser to provide your lawn with the nutrients it needs to grow for the specified time of year.

  6. Seed spreader: Useful for even application of product, preventing burns from over application.

How to fix bare patches

To treat bare patches you will need to create a good seed bed, apply the seed and then keep it continually moist for 4 weeks. You can follow the advice above for the best chance of success.

How to fix weeds

A course of Weedol For Lawns 6-8 weeks before applying any seed is the recommended treatment. You can also remove these manually from the root using a spade.

How to fix compacted soil/waterlogging

To break down clay soils and improve waterlogging/drainage, the following will help:

- Topdressing with organic matter (e.g. topsoil, compost) will break down clay soils over time. Topdress once in spring and once in autumn until situation improves.

- Hollow-tine aeration will improve drainage capabilities through reduced compaction. Hollow-tine in spring and autumn until situation improves.

- For serious cases of poor drainage, drainage installations may be necessary.

How to fix moss

If you have moss, apply iron sulphate first then wait 7-14 days for it to fully turn black. Rake out the dead moss and dispose. Then you can seed/apply The Lawn Pack to fill in any bare areas and thicken out the whole lawn. If your lawn is particularly sparse after raking out the moss then consider using The Lawn 'From Scratch' Pack. Both packs contain iron sulphate and the full iron sulphate guide is here.

How to fix an uneven surface

In order to get the lawn level you must apply topsoil to the areas which need raising. 

Once applied, compact the topsoil and repeat until it has reached the desired level. When your lawn is level, loosen a thin top layer, apply seed to the area and rake it in and compact gently. Keep constantly moist for 4 weeks. 

How to fix an infestation

Firstly, you'll need to check for an infestation. There are a few ways you can tell your lawn has become home to garden pests:

  • You will begin to notice a lot of dead grass, particularly in patches which will make the lawn surface easy to pull up

  • You may notice a lot of daddy long legs on your lawn (also known as a crane fly)

  • Your lawn has become the meeting point for the local bird population and the birds pecking your lawn consistently

  • You may notice physical chafer grubs (crane fly larvae) in your soil surface.

There are two methods for treating an infestation:

  • Leatherjacket nematodes/Chafer grub nematodes

If you've noticed adult crane flies or any of the above signs that you may have an infestation and you These are most effective from when the eggs hatch to when they are still very small - usually the months of July-October.

Once you have applied them you will need to wait a few weeks for them to work before you consider adding any new grass to your lawn.

  • Black plastic sheeting method

You'll need to water the lawn heavily. Apply a black sheet over the lawn overnight (Screwfix sell them fairly cheap). In the morning they’ll have come to the surface and you can rake them up.

Repeat until satisfied. 

There is anecdotal evidence that this method doesn't work as effectively for chafer grubs.

How to fix weed grasses

Weed grasses will ruin the uniformity of your lawn, you can spot these as thicker, coarser and lighter patches which drastically stand out from the rest of your lawn. 

There is no product available in the UK to get rid of them so they have to be removed manually by digging them up and reseeding. It is quite common for them to come back over time as the seeds fly in from adjacent fields, etc. You will then be left with only healthy grass and exposed soil. At this point you can apply seed as normal and follow the carry out the right aftercare.

How to start your lawn from scratch

If you're looking at your damaged lawn and considering starting from scratch you will need to ensure you do the following work: 

In this instance you should spray glyphosate to kill off the whole area. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide so make sure not to spray it on anything you don’t want to kill off. Roundup is one brand of glyphosate which is commonly used but they should all be the same.

After spraying, wait two weeks and rake or scarify out all the dead material. Treat again if there are any surviving plants.

You can also remove any large stones at this point if there are any.

We would recommend using a top soil if starting from scratch. You'll also need to ensure you have enough seed to sow a whole new lawn, our 'From Scratch' pack has everything you need to do this once you've killed off your old, damaged lawn.

Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Lawn After Renovation

After completing the renovation process, it's important to maintain the new grass by mowing it regularly, watering it as needed, and providing it with the right nutrients. It's recommended to mow the new lawn only when the grass blades are between 5-7cm tall, removing no more than one-third of the blade length at a time. This will help to promote healthy growth and prevent the lawn from becoming too thin.

Watering the lawn is also essential, particularly during dry weather conditions. It's recommended to water the lawn deeply once or twice a week, rather than lightly every day. This will encourage the soil and grass roots to grow deeper into the ground, making the lawn more drought-resistant.

Finally, it's important to provide the lawn with the right nutrients by applying fertilizers and compost regularly. This will help to keep the grass healthy and green, and prevent it from becoming thin or discoloured.

Lawn renovation cost

We've worked out the average costs of renovation as follows:

  • Professional renovation with new turf: £14-18 / SQM. 

  • Professional renovation with seed: £10 / SQM.

  • Returfing yourself: £6-9 / SQM.

  • Renovating with The Lawn Pack: as little as 56p / SQM. 


So there you have it, our Ultimate Guide to Lawn Renovation in the UK. We've covered the lawn problems you're likely to encounter on a UK lawn and how you can fix these using UK tools and products. The Lawn Pack are committed to making lawn care easy and taking it back into the hands of the home owner. If you have a question, drop us a comment or reach out to via email:

Join the thousands of home owners using The Lawn Pack.

For some advanced reading on lawn problems and maintenance you can read our 14 page - 5 Critical Steps to Lawn Care guide which also comes with a monthly lawn care calendar.

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