Patching Bare Spots in Your Lawn

Bare spots happen.  They’re unsightly and discouraging, but fixable.

Best time? Early September, just like for starting a new lawn or overseeding an old one. The second best time is in the spring.

Here are the basic steps but for more detail, see instructions for planting a new lawn.

  1. Remove plant debris with garden rake (or cultivator for a small spot — photo right).
  2. Especially if your soil is clay, it’s helpful to spread some compost over the area.
  3. Smooth with a rake or smaller tool, like your hand.
  4. Sprinkle a fairly thick layer of premium grass seed over the spot.
  5. Tamp it down with your hands.
  6. Apply a thin (1/4 inch) layer of straw, sifted compost, or soil-less growing medium as mulch.
  7. Water at least daily to keep the seeds constantly moist for 3 weeks, as you would for a new lawn.

Patching with sod instead

Sod can be purchased at the local garden center or big-box hardware store for — and here online sources vary considerably — 15 to 50 cents per square foot.

  1. Remove soil to one inch or so below the level of the surrounding soil, so the sod will be at the same level as the existing lawn.
  2. Cut sod to fit the spot with a snug fit against the surrounding turf.
  3. Follow watering instructions that come with the sod — carefully.

Dog damage

We love our dogs but they can be terrible on lawns, especially the females, and if you have one you already know that. They leave telltale dead spots with green growth around the edges.

Always flush the area with water immediately after a dog has peed on it, if possible. Also remove feces as soon as possible to keep it from smothering and killing the grass. If damage has already been done, follow the instructions above for repairing spots.