Fixing Bare Patches in Your Lawn

 September 1, 2016

Few things are more frustrating than to seed, water, mow, and maintain your lawn only to have bald patches ruining the overall effect. These dead, dry brown spots tend to crop up during the summer months, which is why now is a good time to take care of them.

Don't mow when grass is wet, or in the midday heat.

Take care of lawn patches now to keep your lawn at its best.

Causes of Lawn Patches

In order to get rid of your problem for good, it’s important to identify what caused the bare spot. The most common (and easiest to repair) reason is high foot traffic. Paths for humans or animals can wear down over time, and until you create an alternate walkway or put up a barrier, the grass isn’t likely to come back.

Other causes of bare patches in your lawn may include:

  • Drought
  • Under-watering
  • Disease
  • Pet waste
  • Chemical burns
  • Excessive weeds
  • Insect Infestation
  • Fungus

If necessary, treat the underlying cause of the problem first. Depending on your situation, this may require that you apply chemical treatments, hire an exterminator, or wait until water restrictions in your area are lifted.

Conditions for Re-Seeding

Late summer/early fall is a good time to fix bare spots, but if you’re doing this later in the fall or early in the spring, remember that ground temps need to be at least 52 degrees for seeds to sprout. Grass also prefers a clean slate on which to grow, as it’s not great at competing with weeds for space. Most experts suggest that you take the following steps to prepare the spot in your lawn:

  • Remove the dead turf and other plant life. Depending on the size of your patch, this can be accomplished with a spade or a larger shovel.
  • Clear any large rocks or clumps. The smoother the soil, the better the chances that your new grass will take hold.
  • Add topsoil. Because you’re likely removing an inch or two of dead turf and debris, you’ll need to add fresh topsoil to keep your lawn smooth and level.

Re-Seeding Your Lawn

Always choose a grass seed mixture that matches your existing lawn or that thrives in your area. Different grasses need different conditions, and you’ll get the best results by keeping your local climate conditions in mind. From there, you’ll want to:

  • Generously seed the area. You can sprinkle seeds by hand, or use an applicator for larger patches.
  • Apply a mulch. Grass seeds tend to be delicate in their early stages, so you’ll want to help keep it moist and prevent birds from eating it. Many grass seed brands come with mulch included, or you can use a material like straw.
  • Water twice a day until the seeds sprout. Morning and evening are the best times to water. After the seeds sprout, reduce the watering to once a day.
  • Fertilize the grass. Most fertilizers are too strong for new grass, so you’ll want to wait until you have a healthy growth before you fertilize.

Because you want to give your new grass a chance to thrive, it’s also a good idea to restrict walking and mowing/lawn care in the area. By the time fall arrives, you should have a nice, strong, consistent lawn and you can resume regular lawn maintenance.