How To Fix A Patchy Lawn? Steps, Tips & Tools Needed | A Comprehensive Guide

To keep a lawn in pristine condition, it is common practice to apply fertilizer twice per year, aerate the lawn regularly to prevent thatch development and soil compaction, water the yard consistently, and correctly mow the grass. However, even if you do all of this, there is still a chance that some areas of your lawn will be barren, sparse, or overgrown with weeds. In this article, let’s talk about how to fix patchy grass.

how to fix patchy grass

Photo Credit In most cases, patchy and thin grass is a symptom of a more severe lawn issue.

The appearance of bald spots on a lawn is a source of frustration for any homeowner. Patchy lawns are an abomination, whether caused by the summer heat or pet ownership. However, there is no need to worry, and do not let it get you down because there are some simple and easy solutions you can implement to revive your lawn.

To fix the turf, however, you will first need to identify the source of the patchy lawn issue. For instance, a bare spot in the grass might be caused by an accident, such as a fertilizer spill, or it might be due to lawn disease, in which case you will need to take a different approach to solve the problem. Nevertheless, if you correct the underlying problem, grass will be able to grow back in the bare spots.

Continue reading to learn more about the possible causes of bare spots on a lawn and what you can do to get rid of them once and for all!

Why Is My Lawn Patchy?

Why Is My Lawn Patchy?

Photo Credit Is your lawn spotty and brown? If so, grubs might be the issue.

The presence of bare, bald spots on your turf is usually indicative of an underlying lawn issue such as improper watering, over-fertilization, lawn disease, excessive wear, weeds, and any of the other factors that are described below. If you fix that, all you have to do is overseed the bare spots, and your lawn will be lush and whole again.

Let’s talk about these problems in a bit more detail:

Lawn Pests

The presence of grubs is a major problem for any lawn. They are an annoyance, and unfortunately, once they’ve established themselves in an area, they are difficult to get rid of. 

Grubs feed on grass roots, and when there are too many in an area, the grass there will die. Click here to learn about the ways in which you can control grubs in your yard.

Lawn Weeds

Another reason why your grass might be struggling to grow in places is the presence of weeds. Weeds usually have longer and deeper roots which can extract water and nutrients more effectively than the surrounding grass.

As a result, the grass in the weed-infested area starts to lose its vigor and might die eventually, giving rise to a bald or bare spot. 

Related: Common Lawn Weeds and How To Identify Them | A Comprehensive Guide

Improper Fertilization

Grass needs a healthy supply of nutrients to maintain its vigor and lush color. However, that does not mean that you should simply throw away bags and bags of fertilizers on your lawn. Overfertilization causes grass burns which can lead to patchy turf.

Likewise, under fertilization is also a problem for lawn grass as it can deprive the grass of essential nutrients, making it weak and giving way to lawn weeds.

Improper Watering

Watering your lawn too little or too much could also be the reason why you have bare spots. Too little water is obviously not good for grass health, and it would cause your turf to die. Whereas too much water can lead to soggy and waterlogged soil. Why is this bad?

Well, a waterlogged soil could cause the depletion of oxygen which is necessary for root survival and growth. So, when the root dies, the grass dies along with it.

Dog Urine

Dog urine is often another reason for dead or yellow patches on a lawn. Although stopping your dog from urinating is difficult, you can take certain measures to reduce the harm. 

For instance, you can follow your dog when it urinates and instantly dilute it with water which will prevent grass burns and grass death.

Too Much Shade

An excessive amount of shade is another potential cause of bare patches. You might be able to turn this situation around by trimming back shrubs and trees around your lawn, planting shade-tolerant grass seed, and keeping the grass blades longer than usual.

Excessive Wear & Tear

Bare patches on lawns can also be caused by wear, which is readily fixed if you can persuade the kids to play somewhere else. You can also reconsider where you position your water slide, take a new path to the storage shed, or build a pathway to remove the bare patches.

Dormant Grass

It’s possible that certain patches of your grass are just dormant, which means they will grow back. However, keep in mind that the dormant patches will be quite large, as grass does not become dormant in isolated or solitary parts. If the environmental conditions are incredibly harsh, any type of turf grass can enter dormancy.

Fungal Diseases

One of the primary factors that contributes to a patchy lawn during the summer is lawn fungus. Grass growth can be stunted when infected with fungus. It is also possible for the grass to become discolored and unkempt as a result of a fungal infection. 

Moreover, Fescue grasses and grasses that produce a lot of thatch appear to be particularly susceptible to fungal diseases.

Related: How To Identify and Treat Common Fungal Diseases Of The Lawn | A Comprehensive Guide

How To Fix A Patchy Lawn?

How To Fix A Patchy Lawn?

Photo Credit Using sod is one of the easiest and quickest ways to fix a bare spot on a turf.

Now that you understand the various reasons behind the presence of bald, bare spots on a lawn, you will be better able to fix the patchy turf issue in your yard. However, once again, it is essential to understand that unless you eliminate the root cause of the patchy turf issue, no amount of lawn care and below mentioned steps would help you keep your lawn full.

Tools Needed To Fix Patchy Turf

When working on a tiny area, you only need grass seed, topsoil, and a trowel. However, you will need a few tools if you want to mend larger sections of your grass.

  • Grass seed
  • Lawn mower
  • Lawn roller (optional)
  • Rake
  • Seed spreader
  • Topsoil or compost (optional)
  • Water

Patch Lawn With Seeds

Mow the existing grass as closely as possible, taking care not to scalp the lawn. Remove the cuttings from the region so the seed can directly contact the soil. Additionally, it would help if you got rid of any weeds or dead grass that may be present in the region.

Spread a generous amount of seed on the patch of damaged grass. Choose a grass seed that matches the surrounding grass. Cover seeds lightly with dirt or a thin layer of compost. After that, give the area a few spritzes of water to encourage seed germination.

Patch With Sod

You can also lay sod similarly to how you would patch with seeds. However, to match the shape and size of the sod, you will need to chop out the patchy grass in a square shape. After that, use a garden fork to aerate the ground underneath.

Keep the area an inch below the ground so it can be leveled. Then, cut a section of sod and fix it to the damaged area. Press the patch lightly and then step on it. After that, adequately water the area, and you are done!

Mow Your Grass Properly

It can sound completely counterintuitive, but maintaining a consistent routine with the lawn mower is one way to have grass that is free of patches. 

During the growing season, you should mow your lawn at least once a week, and in the winter, you should cut it three times a month. 

This will help the grass maintain its healthy appearance and make it thicker and fuller.

Topdress Your Lawn

Topdressing is another method for treating grass spots and keeping your lawn thick. Top-dressing stimulates the grass to re-root, thereby repairing any bare patches.

Additionally, soil rich in nutrients can assist in making air, water, and nutrients accessible to the grass, making the grass healthy and lush.

Aerate The Lawn

Aeration is the technique of increasing airflow to the roots and boosting oxygen for root health. A lawn with deeper, more robust roots is easier to maintain and requires less repair in the long run. The process also reduces soil compaction, which is another factor that contributes to the appearance of bare places on your grass.

Fixing Small Sections Of Lawns For Bare Patches

If only a small region on your lawn needs to be fixed for patches or bare spots, you can easily obtain an all-in-one product for a quick fix to any bald spot. Simply rake the area to soften the soil, then apply the seed and water it daily.

Dethatch Your Lawn

Sometimes the reason why there are bare spots on your turf is the buildup of a thick thatch layer which prevents the grass from getting adequate amounts of air, water, and nutrients.

However, unless you are sure that it needs to be done, you shouldn’t rush to dethatch your lawn because a thin layer of thatch acts as an insulator and helps your grass stay hydrated. Dethatching is seldom unnecessary unless the thickness is 1.25 cm or more.

Related: When, Why & How To Dethatch A Lawn | Tips & Tricks From The Experts

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do I fix my patchy lawn?

The quickest way to repair a dead or damaged turf area is to lay sod. Although, you may also fill in barren places on a patchwork lawn with grass seed. 

However, keep in mind that the turf will develop bare spots again if you do not fix the underlying reason for the appearance of empty spots.

Why does my lawn look so patchy?

Lack of sunlight is the most frequent cause of grass deterioration and the development of patchy regions with poor or no growth. Furthermore, many patchy lawns have compacted soil, which deprives grass roots of oxygen. Other causes of uneven turf include poor fertilization, insufficient watering, dog urine, weeds, and lawn diseases.

How do I get my patchy lawn to grow?

If your lawn has bare spots that need to be reseeded, start by mowing the grass. After that, cut the grass as short as possible without scalping the lawn. 

Then thoroughly rake the area, removing any leaves and other debris from the turf. After finishing, lay sod and sow grass seed that matches your turf.

Will a patchy lawn repair itself?

Grass has incredible recuperative abilities, and it may quickly repair itself in the right conditions. For instance, grass with rhizomes (underground roots) naturally fills in bald or bare patches on your lawn by spreading laterally.

However, despite grass’s remarkable recuperative abilities, weeds invade before your grass can grow. You may therefore need to intervene!

How can I make my grass thicker and greener?

If you want your lawn to be thicker and fuller, regular mowing can help. Mowing helps your grass grow thick and stay that way. Also, water your grass deeply and frequently. 

This makes the grass establish deep roots, which increases the grass’s vigor and endurance, all of which can help make the grass grow thick.

What is the best fertilizer for patchy grass?

The best fertilizer for patchy grass is a granular fertilizer with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium that releases slowly. To stay in top shape, lawns require soil with the correct pH and a balance of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. 

I use Milorganite, which is organic and contains iron, to help your grass turn green.

Can I put grass seed on the patchy lawn?

You can reseed barren grass spots in an existing lawn to fill the gaps. The term “overseeding” is frequently used to describe this procedure. However, before overseeding, thoroughly rake the area and pick up any debris on the turf. After that, plant the seeds and cover them with topsoil or compost

Sources for Further Reading

Managing Patch Disease in Lawns – University of Illinois Extension Service

Patchy Lawn – Colorado State University Extension Service

Get the most out of lawn patches and repair mixes this spring – University of Minnesota Extension

ServiceA soil test can help cure thin, patchy lawn problems – University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service

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