Shallow Renovation (Buffalo & Cool Season)

Shallow Renovation

This process is intended to improve your lawns finish, remove some of the brown layer making it less spongy, lowering the crown of the plants stem back closer to the soil, allowing a season of fresh lush growth.  It’s something that must be carried out during its growing season.

The dormancy period is quite stressful for your lawn, so heading into spring the energy in your lawn is depleted. So, management of this starts before your renovation, it can even start back as far as 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.  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 are increasing.  An early granular feed is mostly wasted because root uptake is very minimal, plus 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.  Cooler season lawns are best done in cooler conditions to minimise the risk of heat stress, but they still must be actively growing still.

With Buffalo, there is a window between the recommencement growth and the soil temps being warm enough to renovate (which we suggest at least 18-20˚C).  The more vigorously your lawn is growing the faster recovery time is, which is what we’re aiming for.  This window is the point your lawn is restoring its energy and carbohydrate levels back into its root system to give us a rapid recovery after renovation.  So, this period is best used in assisting it and preparing your surface with weed management, post emergent and/or pre-emergent herbicides if you haven’t already got them applied.  Also 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 into your soil.


Planning to renovate, ensure you have your product ready, fertiliser, gypsum, lime etc. have your top-dressing material on hand too if it’s your intension.  It’s also wise to consider the mess you’re going to make with waste management, plus choose the conditions carefully. Temperature – not too hot which make it 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 shut down irrigation a couple of days prior.

  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 your desired setting. It’s best to do this in different or alternate directions, as often, especially using a cylinder mower will iron a grain in your stem growth.
  2. If you are using a dethatcher, adjust it to the required height, no lower than approximately 10mm above the soil and run the machine over the area twice in adjacent directions, mowing in between to manage material. It is vital that the lateral stolons along the ground are left intact. Coolseason grasses have shallower roots prone too easier damage
  3. Now that you have scalped and or dethatched below your planned height of cut, and you want the core or aerate, this is the time.  You have removed material for maximum penetration into your soil profile.  Exposing air and light to the soil surface encouraging growth and shooting from fresh cuts. Managing the cores can either involve racking 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 in relation with paths.
  4. Your soil is open after all this work, we prefer this time to apply the fertiliser, gypsum or lime and any other granular product, we 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.  Application now gives access directly to the soil and cores holes.
  5. If top dressing is your intention, now is the time, there are two schools for thought with product application (step 4), you can apply your products after top dressing also.
  6. 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, depends on how you want to improve your soil profile. It must give you good drainage.  If you require a thicker dressing it’s better to repeat the process as the grass grows through.
  7. Watering it all down and applying your liquid amendments through your top dressing, this is when your Kelpro, Hydrolink, Umx liquid, Auxinone etc is applied or spread if Hydrolink Granplus is used. Apply 5-6mm equivalent of rainfall in irrigation, recommence your soil amendment program from here. Recommence your liquid fertiliser program at a half rate initially once you have good cover then a full rate if you wish with the second application.
  8. 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 2 -3 times a day depending on the conditions, just to keep the surface damp.  Continue this for the first week and start to cut back watering frequency gradually increasing the duration, in the second week when you should start to see fresh growth.  By the end of week two you should be well on the way to being recovered, this is when you should be starting to consider your first mow and your new height.  Remembering routine and regular mowing practice is essential, blades sharpened regularly, it’s about training your lawn to its new height, 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 hard to manage.

Watering in total for one week shouldn’t really be any more than 20-30mm for Buffalo but can be as high as 40-50mm for cool season lawns in the depth of summer.  Ideally given in one or two deep waters for Buffalo, never shallow water, unless it’s in time of heat stress during excessive hot spells. Cool Season lawns with shallower roots need more frequent watering.