How To Fix Dead Spots On Your Lawn
A common problem that many homeowners will have experienced is dead spots on their lawn. Even an otherwise healthy and vibrant lawn can be ruined by these strained and lifeless patches, which can be caused by a number of factors. Luckily, fixing these dead spots in your lawn is a relatively simple and straightforward process.
What Causes Bare Spots In A Lawn?
There are many possible causes for lawn problems such as dead spots. Bare patches can occur due to natural causes such as overexposure to heat in the summer, or they may be caused by some sort of poisonous element or spillage. Examples include:
- Climate - Heat and drought can cause dead patches on your lawn. But also snow on a new lawn can cause snow mold.
- Animal Waste - Urine and excrement from animals, whether pets, birds, or foraging visitors, can cause dead patches. Animals such as dogs also love to dig, sometimes with disastrous consequences.
- Lawn Diseases - Like any other plant, grass can sometimes fall victim to disease and fungal contamination such as brown patch, cobwebby fungus, coalescing spots, and more. See this article for more on lawn diseases.
- Grub Damage - Insects and grubs can eat away at areas of your lawn, causing devastating dead spots.
- Ineffective Sprinkling - Uneven watering can occur when sprinklers are not set correctly, and miss areas of grass, causing them to brown-out and die off.
- Spillages - One of the most common causes of dead spots on lawns, is spillages, and/or the misuse of harmful chemicals or fertilizers. The urea in nitrogen can burn lawns if over-applied, or if spilled in one place.
It can be difficult to discern the exact cause of a dead spot (unless you spill something and cause direct damage), but what is important is that the solution is usually easy to implement. Follow the steps below to learn how to fix dead spots in your lawn, and your garden will be back to full health in no time at all
How To Fix Dead Spots On Your Lawn
Follow these simple steps to repair dead patches and regain a fully healthy and revitalized lawn:
1 .Dig Out The Problem Patch
The first stage to fixing a dead spot in your lawn, is to work on the problem patch in preparation for reseeding or sodding. Use a hard toughed rake to plough through matted turf, and to clear away debris.
You can also dig out and turn over the problem patch by driving a spade into the dead grass and removing it completely. Then turn over the top couple of inches of the soil. This is especially useful in the case of contaminations, because the affected area will be buried under the surface, and will not damage the seeds during germination.
2. Prepare The Soil
If you have spilled fertilizers on the lawn, make sure you flush out the poison with a good flooding from the hose. Do this for 15 minutes or so, or maybe even several times to make sure the area is ready to go. The idea is to solve the problem that caused the dead spot before proceeding.
If the soil is poor, now is a great time to add some compost, rotted manure, or organic matter to help the new lawn to develop well. You want to treat the soil as if you are seeding for the first time. Next, smooth the soil with a rake, and spread it evenly. The soil should remain loose.
If you are reseeding then you want the soil to be level with the surrounding area, and if you are sodding then you want the prepared area to lie an inch or so lower, so that the piece of sod will sit evenly.
3. Sprinkle Seed Over The Dead Spot
With the soil prepared, it is time to fix the dead spot in your lawn by sprinkling over some new seed. You should do this by hand if the dead spot is small, only using spreaders if the dead spot takes up a large area. Spread a reasonable layer of seed so that the surface is covered, but try to ensure the seed does not start to pile up.
At this stage you can add some starter fertilizer, or organic fertilizer if desired. Then, lightly work the seed into the soil so that some sits in contact with the surface, and some sits ¼ inch below. You can do this using a rake, or a roller if you prefer.
You can cover the freshly seeded dead spot with a thin layer of mulch, such as grass clippings, or some compost which helps to slow evaporation, discourages seed washout, and helps the seeds to germinate.
3. Sodding Your Dead Spot
Sodding is basically a grass transplant. Sodding is grass turf that is well established and has been cared for by a professional. It is available in rolls that can be transferred to your dead spot to provide an almost instant solution.
There are advantages and disadvantages to sodding. Sod is much more expensive than seed, and is only available in limited grass types, but for those who want a quick solution, and are willing to pay more, sodding is certainly an option.
Although difficult to install on larger areas of lawn, sodding a small dead patch is usually pretty straightforward. Cut the piece of sod to the size and shape that you need to repair the dead patch. Place a small tester piece on the soil to see whether it lies flat on your lawn. If not, adjust your soil depth and try again.
When the sod lies perfectly on your lawn, place the measured piece over your dead spot, and stand on it lightly to press the roots into contact with the soil. You can also add a little organic matter around the edge to promote a healthy integration into your lawn. Voila! You have a green lawn again!
4. Water, Water, And More Water!
Whether you decide to sod or seed, you always need to water. You should keep the dead patch on your lawn well watered, so that it is constantly moist for several weeks while the seeds germinate. For seeds use a light spray feature on a hose to ensure you do not wash them away. Sod can take much more of a blast of water, and should also be watered daily.
Give both sod and seed a serious watering, and soak the soil up to 6 inches in the first couple of days, and then keep the top couple of inches moist thereafter. After a couple of weeks, when the dead spot has been replaced by germinated seeds or established sod, you can water the patch similarly to the rest of the lawn.
After a couple of runs with the lawnmower the patch should blend right in to the rest of your lawn!
Tools To Fix A Dead Spot On Your Lawn
- Garden cultivator (optional)
- Roller (optional)
- Compost or Fertilizer
- Sod Or Seed
If you want to see these tips in action, check out this video from our friends at This Old House. It covers all the steps plus it will give you some tips on how to prevent snow mold.