Repairing bare patches in lawn- 5 simple, practical hacks

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Repairing bare patches in lawn – follow these tips to fix the unsightly brown, bare grass patches plaguing your yard.

Thicker, healthier, lusher, and most fabulous layer of grass on the block……

If this is your goal, steps such as mulching your grass clippings, aerating your lawn (if compacted), dethatching (if you notice too much thatch), mowing and watering your grass properly will take you closer to your dream grass.

But you won’t achieve a beautiful lawn if you don’t fix the brown or bare patches of grass on your backyard- in truth, whatever the culprit, nothing can be frustrating as seeing dead spots mess up all your year-round lawn care efforts.

Thankfully, all is not lost- the perfectly green turf you yearn for is within reach if you repair the dead spots.

Keeping that in mind, here is how to fix bare spots in lawn and get a pretty-looking lawn in no time..

Repairing bare patches in lawn – how to fix a dead lawn (brown/bare spots)

The following six procedures – some need you to purchase specific lawn patch products- will help you patchup the unsightly patches before it is too late.

How to repair bare spots in lawn

Approach 1: Water the area

This is a no-brainer: If the pesky brown patches appear during a season of limited rainfall, the first thing you should consider is watering your entire lawn.

Give the turf between an inch to 1.25 inches (of water) once every week with your lawn sprinkler until the rainfall increases- the brown spots could have been caused by the grass going dormant (to conserve water) during a drought.

Approach 2: Apply sulfur

The other cause of bald, dead patches is pH imbalance in the soil the grass is planted on- low/high soil pH may have started to inhibit the uptake of nutrients leading to yellowing and potential browning of grass.

But to be sure, you need to measure your soil’s pH first- use this soil pH home testing kit.

If you get a starting pH of 7.2 (and higher), you should apply sulfur to the lawn to lower soil pH balance (to about 6.5) in the quantities suggested below:

pH result Type of soil Recommended quantity (per 1,000 sq. ft.)
From 7.2 (and upward) Sandy soil 10 – 15 pounds of sulfur
From 7.2 (and upward) Loamier/ more clay-based soils 20 – 25 pounds of sulfur

Quick Note: While soil pH preferences tend to vary from one grass type to the next, most grasses thrive when the soil pH is in the range of 5.8 to 7.2. That said, a soil pH of 6.5 is tolerable for most grasses (both cool and warm-season varieties).

Approach 3: Tackle the ‘fertilizer burn’

In some cases, the ugly bare patches are a result of the grass suffering a ‘fertilizer burn’- these are the brown spots that crop up a few days after fertilizing a lawn.

To be clear, the trigger is the excess salt from the fertilizer building up and ultimately ‘burning’ the grass.

Now, if this is what you’re noticing, try this procedure:

  1. Water the yard until it is thoroughly saturated- this should drain away the surplus fertilizer out of the root zone
  2. Apply about an inch to 1.25 inches (of water) to the yard each day for one week- this flashes out lingering fertilizer salts from the grass’ roots.
  3. Observe the grass to see if it will heal (consider laying sod over the dead turf spots that do not regrow as expected or resowing the area with new grass seeds).

Approach 4: Apply anti-fungal treatment

The brown patch strikes could be symptoms of a serious fungal infection in your yard and you may need to treat the yard with an appropriate anti-fungal treatment.

However, you need to be sure that your lawn is indeed infected with a fungal disease (and the fungus itself) before thinking of an effective treatment.

Your local garden center or cooperative extension center can help you figure out the actual lawn disease (and the fungus).

Approach 5: Eradicate Grubs (larvae of beetles)

If grubs have spent the summer munching on your turf grass roots, brown areas may soon emerge as grass decays.

The fix is to eradicate the grubs by spraying carbaryl (or trichlorfon) over the lawn.

Introducing beneficial nematodes (roundworms) can be a good alternative to the aforementioned grub killer for lawns.

Quick Note: To check if you have a grub-infestation, just dig into any brown patch and try to look for the creatures (they’re typically milk-white in color and they curl up into a C-like shape). As a rule of thumb, finding 10 or more of the creatures per sq. foot of sod points to a grub infestation.

Repairing bare spots on lawn – Other approaches

1.   Try to mow like a pro

To restore a perfectly green turf, try to mow the grass higher in the ‘sickly’ areas until the turf greens up.

Remember that grass that is cut too short tends to be more susceptible to issues such as heat damage, weed invasion, and more.

2.   Repairing a lawn with grass seed

When all the above measures don’t work, it could be time to reseed those bare spots (this is a must if the grass seems dead).

Start by raking the ground (to remove any debris and loosen the soil) then apply your grass seed (the grass seeds you buy should be for the already-growing species of grass) as instructed in your grass seeds’ bag.

Quick Note: If you have St. Augustine grass, the best approach is sodding or plugging your bare spots rather than seeding them. You want to purchase adequate pieces of sod/enough plugs to cover the bare spots if you’ll take this route.

3.   Use proprietary lawn patch products

Another viable repair technique is using lawn patch repair products.

Most of these are specifically formulated to provide all-in-one brown/bare spots fix for your lawn and make repairing the bare spots easy-peasy!

If this is the way you feel you should go, here are some products worth looking at:

  • Scotts Patchmaster– this wonderful ready-to-grow grass repair mix begins to grow in as little as seven (7) days and blends nicely with your lawn
  • Grotrax quick fix grass patch repair roll place the product on your bare spots and water as recommended (check the label). It will produce gorgeous green grass in about 2 weeks.
  • EZ patch lawn repair Try the EZ Patch Repair product on the empty spots if you have St. Augustine grass. It is the first patching product for St. Augustine grass in the market and makes the bare spots turn green amazingly quickly.
  • Dog Spot Grass Repair Pre-Mixed Spray – This quickly and effectively covers the Brown Burn spots your pet leaves on lawn.


How to fix bare spot in lawn – best practices

To borrow a tired cliché, prevention is better than cure.

What I’m saying is this: Rather than waiting too late – when the problem is widespread and you have no option but repairing bare patches in lawn- you should observe the best lawn care practices.

Here is a checklist of must-dos and not-to-dos when it comes to lawn care if you want to maintain your grass in tiptop shape:

Expert mowing practices

  • Don’t mow in hot weather– mowing your grass in scorching heat causes physical and environmental strain on grass.
  • Cut it to optimal height– trimming less grass when cutting reduces the stress on grass and can prevent heat damage.
  • Don’t mow too often– likewise, grass that is mowed less often has a better chance of avoiding stress.

Good irrigation practices

  • Water in the early morning – the best watering hours is early morning.
  • Water deeply – watering well helps nourish roots.
  • Reduce irrigation frequency as summer approaches– delivering more water but less often in the weeks heading into summer helps deep roots to form (this could help your turf adapt to the summer conditions leading to more robust growth).

Weeding it like a pro

  • Use a selective herbicide (if the problem is because of weed invasion)- if you don’t want to dig them up, spray a selective herbicide on weeds since it destroys the weeds while sparing the grass.
  • Spray pre-emergent herbicide- after you successfully remove the annoying weeds, consider spraying a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent the germination of new weed seeds.

Quick Note: Weeds are extremely selfish and can ‘steal’ nutrients that are vital for good grass growth, leaving you with an awful-looking dry brown stretch of grass.

Pro fertilization practices

  • Regular fertilization – feeding the grass regularly during the growing season can promote thicker, healthier growth.
  • Use slow-release fertilizers– slow release nitrogen fertilizers have a reduced risk of burning your grass.

How to fix bare spots in Bermuda grass

Repairing bare spots in lawn YouTube Video



Repairing bare patches in lawn – frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What causes bare spots in lawn?

The brown patches can be caused by poor soil management, disease, improper mowing, your pets (train them to do their business away from the grass), grub-infestation, drought, fertilizer burn, weed infestation, and even heavy foot traffic (this causes soil compaction).

Will grass fill in bare spots on its own?

It may, it may not! While sometimes grass fills in bare spots on its own- especially for the best-tended lawns, you cannot really bank on it.

That explains why most folks end up working with the fixes we have listed in the article.

What is the best time to repair lawn?

In general, early fall is the ideal time to repair dead/brown patches of grass in your lawn because the conditions are conducive to quick recovery.

Wrap up

Follow the above tips to transform your thin, uninspiring grass into a luxuriant, healthier lawn.

Then add the best practices to maintain a lusher yard for years to come.


How does an overseeder work and is it really worth it

Pros and cons of dethatching lawn – what you should know

Levelling a lawn that is already laid – simple, practical steps

Drop spreader or broadcast spreader for grass seed?


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