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Turf Repair

The drought of 2012 resulted in a lot of turf damage. Aside from not watering, or watering enough, other contributing factors were: poor soil conditions, grass varieties less tolerant of heat drought (Blue Grass), amount of shade versus sun, mowing height, etc.

Turf repair if done right based on a given lawns specific site condition, can be a success. Too often, drought aside, we encounter repairs for various reasons done incorrectly resulting in less than satisfactory results.

This information is to inform the average lawn care client that there is significantly more information that should be considered when deciding who and how your lawn will be repaired and what’s included or not included. Making a decision based on price can lead to a less than desirable result.

Aeration & Overseeding

This is not a one size fits all approach, especially with larger lawn care companies that only do fertilization, weed control and aeration. Why? Because its quick and easy and doesn’t require the extra labor and equipment, soil and covering material, etc. Should doing the repair correctly require a method beyond their capabilities, they only have aeration and overseeding to offer. They are a professional service so you trust their recommendation. Note: aeration and overseeding is a good repair method, it may not be the best or only choice for repair.

Common Mistakes

If you have undesirable grasses within the area to be repaired, or anywhere in your lawn, aeration will transplant these undesirable grasses throughout your lawn.

Unfortunately, the undesirable grasses such as Quack grass, Timothy grass and other coarse grasses, tend to survive when the desirable grasses die off.

For these situations, we recommend slit seeding. For larger areas of damage, we recommend spraying Round Up on undesirable grasses, then top dressing with topsoil and covering.

  • Preparation: Some lawns have a layer of dead grass/thatch, etc. this should be removed prior to repair. This is done by using a dethatcher. In many cases the whole lawn will benefit from dethatching and in other cases just the area where top dressing with topsoil is being done
  • Never use black topsoil, as it doesn’t hold a root base, so even if your seed germinates, more than likely it will die off in a short period of time. Unfortunately, all bagged topsoil is black topsoil, which is light weight and convenient for the average person to pick up with their car.
  • It is recommended to apply starter fertilizer at the time of seeding. Starter fertilizer contains phosphorus which helps the seed germinate.
  • Regardless of the method used to repair turf damage or for that matter install a new lawn, starter fertilizer at the time of seeding is recommended.

Note: Dethatching is not something larger weed and feed only companies are equipped to do. These companies will sell you an aeration to address your thatch problem. Aeration doesn’t physically remove the dead grass/thatch layer. Dethatching (also known as power raking) does.

  • Watering: If new seed isn’t kept moist for 2 to 3 weeks, the level of success may be compromised. While the larger the area, the more difficult it is to keep moist, however, it is an important point worth mentioning.
  • A few other points to mention: Do not apply crabgrass pre-emergent to your lawn in spring if you planning on aerating and overseeding or slit seeding the first half of the season, as your seed will not germinate, if you have an issue with crabgrass or foxtail (most common). We offer a product that will disintegrate these grassy weeds within approximately 2 weeks. The cost is based on the amount of product required not on the total square footage of your lawn.
  • The best time of the year to seed, is approximately mid-August through October 1st. (these dates are guides, but the weather is the main factor of consideration.) If you desire to repair or install a lawn in spring, the recommended date is after May 15th; seed requires an average consistency of 60 degree temperatures or warmer to germinate. Seeding too early can compromise the germination as the seed is subject to being disturbed, via weather and other factors.
  • We recommend people wait until June as the temperatures are more favorable for quicker germination with less likelihood of being disturbed (heavy rain fall). If you are seeding early, before June, late (after October 1st) or seeding on sloped grades, ditches, etc. we recommend a straw or fiber blanket, (referred to as mulch matt.) These blankets trap more heat and moisture, promoting: If the weather/temperatures are running early or late, these recommendations may vary. Site conditions will vary and can factor into your timing as well.
  1. Faster germination
  2. More even germination
  3. Significantly minimize the risk of seed being disturbed, especially by rainfall.
  4. They can also allow you to seed a little later into the Fall
  5. Months and dates are just guidelines

Whether you are considering Turf & Tree Worx, another company, or doing the repairs yourself, we hope you will find this information useful. From, our experience over the past 20 years, most people don’t realize that there is more to growing grass beyond the obvious. Making a decision to go with the cheapest option may leave you throwing good money after bad.

If you are doing the repair or installation yourself, or considering another service and would like a second opinion, Turf & Tree Worx also offers consultation services.