The bare patches on a lawn that is otherwise healthy and full may be caused by pet urine, heavy foot traffic or vehicle traffic, or pest infestations. You can patch up these areas with a variety of lawn care methods, but it is important to also consider the cause and try to correct it if possible.
If, for example, you have a bald patch because of constant foot traffic, then no solution will last unless the problem with traffic flow is also resolved. If the bald patches are due to a lawn-grub infestation, then new bare spots will appear as soon as the old ones have been repaired.
Two easy ways to restore bald patches on your lawn are to reseed or patch them with sod.
Lawn Care Tips To Address Bare Spots and Patchy Grass
Before You Begin
Examine the bare patches and determine the cause of the problem. Consider the best patching method for your situation, and when to apply it.
Seeds for patching:
The best time to seed is in the fall and later summer of northern zones with cold winters. This is when cool-season grasses are active. You can also plant in the early spring. Just make sure you do it early enough to ensure that the grass is well-established by the time summer arrives.
Late spring and early summer are considered the best times to plant grass seed in warm-winter areas where warm-season grazes dominate.
Repairing with Sod
When it comes to sodding, you have a wider window. Sodding a yard is similar to seeding. Early fall for cool-season grasses and late spring for warm-season grasses are the professional recommendations. If you want to fill in bare areas, it’s best to keep the patch moist during the entire growing season. Don’t forget that garden centers in some regions only have sod during certain seasons.
A shallow root system will form in two weeks. However, a deeper root system may take up to six weeks. It is best to plant patches of sod no later than mid-October if you live in an area where the hard frost occurs in early December.
Lawn Care Quick Guide
1. Patch your lawn. Fix thin or bare spots. If you have St. Augustine grass, it is better to remove dead turf or edge out bare areas.
2. Water is important. Watering new seeds and sod is essential. Keep your soil moist, but not soggy.
3. After six to eight weeks, feed the lawn. After six to eight weeks, feed your lawn with the nutrients it needs to grow.
4. Remove weeds and pests. Check to see if your bug or weed control products are safe for new grass.
How to Reseed Bare Patches
Seed is a simple and cheap way to patch up bare areas. You will only need to spend about 20 minutes, plus a little maintenance until your first or second mow. It will take up to six months to blend the patch into your lawn.
Rake the Area
Use a garden tool to remove all debris and dead grass. Examine the area to see if there are any grubs. You may need to correct a grub infestation if the damaged area of grass pulls easily up, similar to a rug.
Loosening the soil
Use a lawn rake with hard teeth or a garden cultivator to break up the soil. Consider using core aeration tools to aerate the soil if it seems very compacted. The tool is a simple manual device that cuts holes in soil by driving it into the ground.
Modify the soil
Mix the soil by raking in several inches of loamy compost. Use the top edge of the rake to spread some topdressing in the adjacent areas.
Choose the right seed for the microclimate of your area (sun, shade). The perennial ryegrass will germinate quickly and should be included in the mix.
Some “one-step” grass seed products already contain a weak starter fertilizer, compost and other additives. Some products contain recycled paper to hold the seeds and absorb moisture during germination. These products are not bad, but plain grass seed can be used to cover bare spots just as well and more cost-effectively.
Rake the Seeds
Spread the seeds evenly by lightly raking them in. It will also help to keep the seed in place by covering some of it with a thin soil layer. You may have to protect your area until the seeds germinate from birds that love to eat seedlings and new shoots. You can deter birds by using reflective tape, pinwheels, or short stakes.
Water the area lightly. Keep the seeds damp throughout the day. You can cover the patch with a burlap sheet if hot weather is an issue. This will shade the seeds and prevent them from drying out. Spreading a thin layer (about 1 cm thick) of wheat straw on top of the seeded surface will help to keep the seeds moist and in place.
You will need to water your patch daily, or even twice a day for the first 10 days until the seeds sprout. Continue to water every two days until the grass is mature. Then, you can water only once a week.
Cut When Ready
This will allow the patched areas to begin to blend with the rest. It may be necessary to mow around the patched area for two or even three mowing sessions. Some seed manufacturers recommend waiting seven weeks before cutting new grass.
How to Patch Bare Patches with Sod
Filling the spot with a cut-out patch from a roll of grass sod is a quicker solution than seeding. If you need to treat several bare spots, this is the best method. You can get many patches out of a roll of sod that costs less than $10. You’ll be able to blend the patch into the grass within a few weeks.
Cut a Sod patch
Cut a small patch of sod with a garden knife or a sharp-edged shovel. It should be slightly larger than the area that is bare on your lawn. The patch should extend about 2 inches beyond the bare area into the healthy grass.
Cut out the Old Turf
Place the sod over the bare area. Then, remove the sod, and then the dead grass, as well as the healthy grass ring around the bare area, with a hand cultivator. Remove the soil layer below the grass. The goal is for the sod to sit at the same height as the rest.
Prepare the soil
Use a garden rake or cultivator to loosen the soil around your patch. The soil should be loose enough for the roots to quickly anchor themselves in the soil.
Plant the Sod Patch
Walk on the sod repeatedly to compact it into the soil. Water the area immediately and then repeat this process two or three more times per day for a few days until it is fully bonded.
It will take up to six weeks for the sod to fully root. It’s normal for the sod to be a different color initially. This will fade soon.
Call Conway Lawn Care Service now if you need expert help in maintaining your lawn.
Like our Facebook page for more great info about lawn maintenance services.