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Landscape Renovation: Revamp or Redo?

Maintaining a pristine lawn isn’t the kind of work you can easily turn your back on. Unkempt landscapes foster all kinds of nasty blights: weeds, mold, disease, and pests among them. It takes near constant upkeep to prevent any one of these problems from creeping in and creating chaos. Still, most of us are guilty of slacking on lawn and landscaping chores—and then dealing with the consequences later.

When surveying their dilapidated lawns, homeowners often feel overwhelmed. They may ask themselves: is it better to fix this or start from scratch? Anyone who has experience pulling a mess of weeds would likely argue that starting from scratch is far less painful than trying to unsink a sunken ship. But those who have spent thousands on lawn renovations would likely say that a revamp saves time and money. Ultimately, when deciding how to move forward with your lawn, there are several factors to consider:

Lawn Renovation

Photo by Sam DeLong.

Identify Problem Areas

Too often, homeowners see that their lawn has a problem and then proceed with a solution before figuring out what the problem is. When it comes down to it, there are hundreds of reasons why grass might not be growing properly, or why plants might fail. Some of these are out of the homeowners’ control, but plenty are preventable. An accurate diagnoses of the problem will help you make successful changes. Say, for example, that you have a shady yard but are using a type of grass that loves sunlight. The proper solution in this case would be to remove the sun-loving grass, consult with a professional, and then plant a grass type more suitable for shady yards. As a general rule, always know the composition of your yard. How much sun does it get? How much rain does it get? What’s the PH of the soil? Plants, grasses, and watering routines should reflect your yard’s particular needs. Often, a yard seems unhealthy because its foliage is poorly suited for its environment.

Another common problem landscapers run across during yard renovations is infestations: weeds, pests, mold. Homeowners often become worried when they notice symptoms of an infestation—browning grass, half-eaten plants, bare spots—and are immediately tempted to rip up the ground and start over. However, most infestations can be treated using a pesticide/herbicide regimen, and they can be prevented through proper maintenance. Regular watering, fertilizing, trimming, and pruning can deter potential pests and combat common diseases.

Survey the Extent of the Damage

Deciding to redo a lawn that is 15% damaged is a big waste of time and money. Small problem areas can easily be fixed without disrupting the rest of the yard, and it’s often cheaper to address landscaping problems in parts. Before deciding on a plan of action, approximate how much of your lawn is damaged. If less than half of your lawn is in bad shape, a revamp is probably more productive than a redo. If more than half of your lawn is damaged, it’s probably best to forego the heroic effort it would take to save it and plant some new sod instead.

Protip: You can still plant sod on cool, mild days in the winter.

Set Long-Term Maintenance Goals

Ultimately, no matter how you decide to fix your lawn, none of the changes you make will matter much without a long-term maintenance plan. Most landscaping disasters are due to human error, and all landscaping “fixes” require continued upkeep. If you want to renovate your lawn, ask yourself why and how, but also plan for the future. How will you continue to take care of this landscape? What work will you put in week by week and month by month to ensure your grass, trees, and plants are healthy? If you don’t have time to work continually on a landscape, considering hiring a team of professionals who can do your landscaping maintenance for you. After all, the real goal of a landscape redo or revamp is that you’ll never have to tear up your yard again.

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