Deep Renovation (Couch, Kikuyu & Zoysia)

Deep RenovationThis process is intended to improve your lawns finish, remove as much of the brown layer as possible making it less spongy, lowering the crown of the plants stem back close to the soil, allowing a season of fresh lush growth.  It’s something that must be carried out during its growing season in the warmer months.


The dormancy period is quite stressful for your lawn, so heading into spring the energy in your lawn is depleted. Management of this starts before your renovation, it can even start back as far as the previous Autumn if you’re serious.  Let start this late winter early spring.

Renovation Preparation Window.

Generally, you can gauge your growth just as your lawn starts to wake from dormancy, at this point, We like to start with a foliar feed.  The roots won’t be doing much yet, so refrain from a granular feed just yet. A good foliar feed often will speed up the process, if you only use a granular fertiliser you will need to wait until growth is obvious and consistent which indicates soil temperatures increasing.  An early granular feed is mostly wasted because root uptake is very minimal, you may increase the chance of disease in spring.  At this time, you should resume your soil amendment program if you ceased it over winter.

In the window between the recommencement of growth and the soil temps being warm enough to renovate (which we suggest at least 18-20˚C), depending on your variety. The more vigorously your lawn is growing the faster recovery time is, which is preferred.  This window is the point your lawn is restoring its energy and carbohydrate levels back into it’s root system, locked and loaded for a rapid recovery after renovation.  This time period is best used in assisting it and preparing your surface with weed management, with post emergent and/or pre-emergent herbicides if you haven’t already sprayed them out. Insect management with your systemic control if you haven’t already applied it.

Once your lawn is growing 2-4 weeks prior to renovation, apply your granular fertiliser and start to restore some nutrition back into your soil, at this point it’s okay to a gentle scalp, just to tidy it up so its presentable until renovation.


Planning to renovate, ensure you have your product ready, fertiliser, gypsum, lime etc. even your top-dressing material to have on hand.  It’s also wise to consider the mess you’re going to make with waste management plus choose the weather conditions carefully. Temperature – not too hot which make is more stressful on the lawn (and you), wind – strength and direction, do you want it blowing into your house, washing or even the pool.  Try to have a dry lawn to renovate and slight soil moisture to control dust if scarifying shut down irrigation a day or so prior. Use marking paint for your sprinkler heads, circling them on your lawn.

  1. Start your renovation with a rotary mower, it’s easier to manage with a gradual drop in height, it may require 2-3 passes until you reach the lowest setting. It’s best to do this in different or alternate directions, often, especially using a cylinder mower, a grain in your growth can be ironed in. For some, this is enough, if you are planning a shorter finish, you may want to try to go lower, this may involve a mower that is designed to cut to the ground, or using your cylinder mower.
  2. If you are using a dethatcher its time to adjust it to the height or just above the soil and run the machine over twice in adjacent directions and mowing in between to manage material. If you’re using a scarifier, you can skip this process.
  3. Once as much of the vertical growth material has been removed, now is the time to scarify and cut into the lateral growing stolons and a few millimetres into your soil cut the rhizomes.  This will thicken up your lawn, resulting in a finer even finish without any clumping growth, it’s cutting one plant into many. Do this in adjacent directions and mow in between cuts to remove material.
  4. Now that you have scalped below your planned height, and you want the core or aerate, this is the time. You have removed the material for maximum penetration into your soil profile.  Exposing air and light to the soil surface encouraging growth and shooting from fresh cuts close or in the soil. Managing the cores can either involve raking them up, using your rotary mower to suck them up or mulching them back in.  Coring and cleaning them up, leaving the holes open is a good technique to progressively adjust your soil height if have height problems with paths.
  5. Your soil is open after all this work, so we think it’s a perfect time to apply your fertiliser, gypsum or lime and any other granular product, I recommend a fertilser that is designed for this purpose like Accelerate as it needs to be balanced to support the new growth but also needs to have a high upfront availability of nutrients to encourage a rapid response.
  6. If top dressing is your intention, there are two schools for thought with product application, you can apply your products after top dressing or before as we have mentioned.  Application before gives access directly to the soil and cores holes, great for gypsum or lime applications and granular organic products like Kikstart.
  7. Top dress your lawn with a maximum of 10-15ml of preferably a washed sand product, sandy loam or you can get organic blends for this which is ok too.  It depends on your soil profile also and what you want to add. If you require a thicker dressing it’s better to repeat the process as the grass grows through.  You can apply it thicker, it will take longer, you will need to screed the surface occasionally to break a crust.
  8. Watering it all down and applying your liquid amendments through your top dressing, this is when your Kelpro, Hydrolink, Umx liquid, Auxinone etc. are applied or spread, if Hydrolink Granplus is used. Apply 5-6mm equivalent of rainfall in irrigation, recommence your soil amendment program from here on. Recommence your liquid fertiliser program at a half rate initially once you have good cover, then a full rate second application.
  9. The last step of the renovation is at the 4-6-week mark, with the expiration of your Accelerate application from the renovation. It is to resume your normal fertiliser program with its first sustained release fertilise.

Now that you have successfully renovated your lawn the next step is to keep it moist with shorter frequent watering say 2 times a day, just to keep the top damp.  Continue this for the first week and start to cut back watering frequency gradually and increasing the length in the second week, you should start to see fresh growth.  By the end of week two your lawn should be well on the way to being recovered, this is when you should be starting to consider your first cut and your new height.  Remembering routine mowing practice is essential with sharp blades, it’s about training your lawn to the height you want it at, even the smallest clipping contributes to this and to your finish. Be disciplined at maintaining this routine, skipping a mow will impact your finish and always cut under one third of the height of the grass.  This means the shorter the height, the less one third equates to which means mowing more frequently.  At this point you may want to consider a plant growth regulator if it becomes to much to manage

Watering in total for one week shouldn’t really be any more than 20-30mm.  Ideally given in one or two deep waters, never shallow water, unless it’s in time of heat stress during excessive heat.