If you've just moved into a home with a neglected lawn -- or if you have not paid your lawn a lot of attention in the last few years -- the many weeds and pits it has developed can be pretty unattractive. Restoring your lawn to a plush, green expanse may seem like an insurmountable challenge, but in fact, it's not as hard as you might assume. Following these four steps will take a couple of weeks, but when you are finished, you will have a flat, green, lush lawn that all of the neighbors admire.
Step 1: Apply a broadleaf herbicide.
Venture to your local hardware or home improvement store and purchase a large spray bottle of broadleaf herbicide. You're looking for the type that kills weeds but does not kill grass. When you get home, spray the herbicide liberally over your lawn. Make sure you do this at least a few hours before any rain is expected. Avoid spraying the herbicide on your skin, and make sure you soak the entire lawn evenly.
In the days that follow, all of the weeds in your lawn should turn brown, while the grass remains green and healthy. When the weeds appear to be completely dead, put on a pair of gloves and pull them all out.
Step 2: Fill in holes with topsoil.
Purchase topsoil from a landscaping company or local home improvement store. If your yard has a lot of low spots, you may even want to have a landscaping company deliver an entire load of topsoil. They can typically dump it on a tarp in your driveway or on your lawn so that it does not make a mess.
Find the low spots in your lawn, and use a trowel to till them up slightly. If there were weeds in these areas, they should already be pulled out, making it easy to work up the soil. If there is still grass in these areas, use the trowel to work your way under it and loosen the soil beneath it. Otherwise, the new topsoil won't settle into place.
Once your low spots are worked up a little, pour some new topsoil into them to bring them level with the rest of the lawn. Compact the topsoil somewhat, but do not press it down too firmly since you'll be planting grass seed on it.
Step 3: Sow the seed.
Sow grass seed in any of the areas you covered in topsoil along with any bare areas where you pulled out weeds. Press the seed gently into the soil, and then use a hose to gently water it in. Then, cover all of the areas in a thin layer of straw. This will prevent the grass seed from blowing away. You can use an online calculator to figure out how much grass seed you need based on the size of the area you're planting.
Step 4: Maintain it and encourage growth.
For about a week, apply water to the new grass seed every day that it does not rain. Once the seed germinates, you can remove the straw and cut back your watering to every other day.
You should also do another application of weed killer about one week after the initial application. This will catch any new, young weeds before they have a chance to become established. Do not directly spray any areas where you planted the new grass.
If you apply weed killer once a month or so and keep watering your lawn a couple of times per week, it should stay much more vibrant going forward. In the spring, you may want to apply fertilizer just as the grass begins to re-emerge. This will help encourage strong, healthy growth throughout the year.