How to Fix Large Bare Spots in Your Lawn

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House with manicured lawn, landscaped garden under cloudy sky.

If you have a lawn, you may have noticed that, occasionally, you’ll encounter bare patches or areas of dead grass. Needless to say, this is the last thing you want as we approach the warmer seasons. Bare or thin spots in your lawn are visually annoying and can really detract from the overall health and beauty of the entire lawn.

So, is there a solution to bare patches in your lawn? Yes, there is a solution, and, simply put, it’s some much-needed lawn repair.

In today’s guide, we will reveal how to fix large bare spots in your lawn so you can keep your lawn looking healthy all year round. We will also uncover some of the most common causes of thinning grass patches so that you can identify and prevent any future damage to your lawn.

How to Fix Bare Spots in Lawn: Identifying the Causes of Patchy Grass

So, how do you fix bare spots in your lawn? You start by identifying the potential causes of the damage to the existing grass patches in your lawn.

Patchy lawns can be caused by a number of different factors. Below, we’ve explored some of the most common causes to help you identify the exact cause and best method of treatment.

1. Pet Urine

Our furry friends make a house a home, but it’s an entirely different story when it comes to letting them roam around our lawns.

If you notice a dog, cat, or even a wild animal urinating on your lawn, it’s safe to say that you’ll soon spot a telltale brown patch of grass. Urine is rich in nitrogen, and although nitrogen is essential for healthy soil, in high concentrations, nitrogen can actually cause grass burns.

A good way to combat the damaging effects of high nitrogen concentration is to immediately and thoroughly water the spot of urination.

If you’re unsure if pet urine is the cause of a bare spot in your lawn, check the grass in the surrounding lawn. You might notice a ring of dark green, healthy grass around the brown patch, this is due to the surrounding area receiving residual exposure to higher levels of nitrogen.

Beagle sniffing grass on sunny garden walk, revealing potential bare spots in the lawn.

2. Pesticides and Herbicides

If there is a spill of pesticides and wide-spectrum herbicides on your lawn, spots of dead grass may appear. Even if you use a suitable weed killer, you risk damaging your lawn should it spill on healthy grass. In high concentrations, pesticides and wide-spectrum herbicides can poison your soil and the organisms within it.

In order to prevent the risks that pesticides and herbicides pose to your lawn, you should take extra care to avoid unnecessary spillages. However, sometimes spillages are unavoidable. If you’ve noticed a spill of harsh chemicals on your lawn, you should thoroughly and quickly water the affected area.

Typically, you can tell if pesticides or herbicides have caused spots of dead grass in your lawn because the spot will appear in an irregular shape resembling the pattern of the spill.

Farmer inspecting blueberry plants in greenhouse with sprinkler system, noting potential bare spots.

3. An Over-Use of Fertilizer and Salt

Not surprisingly, fertilizer burn occurs when you over-fertilize your lawn; this type of fertilizer burn will be noticeable by the areas of bare spots, more so if applied on wet grass. This is because the water serves as an adhesive that binds the fertilizer to the grass blades, which, combined with the high concentration of nitrogen salts, causes the burn.

Speaking of too much salt, take extra care if you use salt as an anti-icing measure. Rain and melting snow could potentially spread the salt into nearby grass areas. If this is the case, by the time early spring comes around,  you might notice the damaging tell tale signs of salt burns on surrounding areas where it has spread to.

When it comes to using fertilizer or anti-icing salt, you should adopt the mantra of less is more!

Farmer applies blue granular fertilizer to soil around young plant by addressing bare spots.

4. Sparse Sprinkler Coverage

Your sprinklers should cover your entire lawn. If they don’t, you risk underwatering your lawn and the result – you end up with dead turf.

To avoid the consequences of underwatering,  monitor your sprinkler’s path around the surrounding grass. By ensuring that the sprinklers overlap, you will be rewarded with a well-watered, healthy lawn.

Garden sprinkler showers water over vibrant green plants, urban backdrop.

5. Heavy Foot Traffic

As tempting as it is to walk over your healthy lawn, heavy foot traffic can lead to soil compaction.

What is soil compaction? Soil compaction occurs when soil hardens after continuous vehicle or foot traffic, which squeezes the air from the gaps in the soil particles. Compacted soil is less likely to absorb water making it incredibly difficult to keep your soil moist.

You can amend soil compaction by placing spike aerators in your soil or adding organic matter like compost. However, the best way to solve soil compaction is a reduction in foot traffic.

Consider adding a paved walkway or even some stepping stones to your lawn to avoid further damage.

Soccer player's foot on ball, highlighting bare spots on the field.

Grass Patch Repair: Materials You Should Use to Fix Your Lawn

Grass patch repair is an intricate process, and it’s essential that you have the right tools for the job!

Here’s what you’ll need.

  • A garden rake.
  • A lawn mower.
  • A grass seed spreader.
  • Grass seeds.
  • Water.
  • Topsoil or compost.
  • A shovel.
Blue and white lawn mower on lush green lawn, sunny day, indicating areas of potential bare spots.

Grass Bare Spot Repair: How to Repair Your Lawn

Once you’ve assembled the appropriate equipment and have determined the cause of your patching grass, you are ready to conduct your grassy bare spot repair. Say goodbye to any bald spots on your lawn because, in seven simple steps, you’ll have a stunning healthy lawn!

Here’s how you can repair bare spots and welcome healthy, new grass to your lawn!

1. Preparing Your Lawn

The first step is to prepare the damaged areas of your lawn. Grab your lawnmower and start mowing around the surrounding area of your damaged bare spots. From here, you should remove debris (dead grass or damaged grass) to expose the clean soil.

Next, rake the exposed soil and loosen up to a lighter texture, taking care not to rake out any healthy grass. You’ll now have areas of soil between the  existing grass where you can sow grass seeds. Fresh new grass seedlings should start to appear within a few weeks.

Tip: If you notice lawn weeds in the area that require repairs, dig them out or spray them with a weed killer about two weeks in advance. Consider using a weeder tool for efficient removal.

2. Loosening the Soil

Although you’ve created a hospitable seedbed, you could still face the annoying problem of soil compaction. Turning over the soil with your spade to create a looser texture, will make it easier for your grass seed to take root while further diminishing the risk of heavy soil compaction. 

Tip: Ideally, try to dig four inches deep into the soil.

3. Amending the Soil

To ensure the prolonged health of your lawn, layer several inches of loosened topsoil on top of the existing soil. From here, you can enrich your new layer of soil with organic matter like compost or bagged products from your local garden center.

To level out the surface of the amended soil, turn your garden rake  and, using the flattened end, gently smooth the area of mixed topsoil and organic matter.

4. Spreading Your Grass Seeds

Before scattering your grass seeds over the bare patches on your lawn,  choose a repair mixture that complements the surrounding grass, the climate, and the grass type your lawn is made up of.

Once you have the ideal grass seed mixture, distribute it across the bare patch, ensuring it evenly covers the surface. Generally, you should use one cup of grass seeds per square foot as this will ensure the seeds germinate to their full potential and receive adequate light exposure.

Tip: It’s recommended that you plant grass seed according to the season and temperature. Warm-season grasses are best sown in late springtime to early summer when temperatures are around 65 degrees F, 18C or higher. For cool-season grasses, you should sow your grass seed either in autumn or early fall or  early spring when temperatures are around 50-65 degrees F, 10-18C.  

5. Raking Your Grass Seeds

The next step is to gently rake your grass seeds to ensure there is an even distribution over all the bare spots on your lawn. By raking over your seeds, you’ll provide a thin layer of soil that will help secure your seeds enabling germination to take place.

6. Watering the Repaired Area

Light and frequent watering is an essential step in repairing bare spots in your lawn. The goal is to keep your new seedlings moist without creating soggy conditions, whereby new seedlings could rot and die off.

In general, it is recommended to lightly water your seeds twice a day, however, it is worth noting that this may vary depending on your grass type.

For the next two weeks or so,  keep your repaired bare spots moist and monitor your seeds’ growth until your seedlings have reached the recommended mowing height for your specific grass type.

7. Mowing Your Lawn When New Grass Has Grown

The final step involves some patience. You may be quite eager to start mowing your lawn once your seedlings have grown a few inches. However, we recommend that you wait for the seedlings to grow until you can’t distinguish the repaired patch of grass from the rest of your lawn. For best results, let your seedlings grow more than one-third above the recommended mowing height.

This could take a few weeks, but the end result will make it seem like there were never any bare spots to begin with!

How to Fix Large Bare Spots in Your Lawn: Final Thoughts

Following these guidelines, you now know how to fix a variety of bald spots in your lawn, regardless of size or cause!

However, knowing how to fix large bare spots in your lawn is one thing, but being able to maintain your lawn’s repairs is another. Make sure that, once your bare spots have been fully repaired, you mow, water, weed, and edge your lawn regularly.

Even though encountering patchy grass is sometimes unavoidable, by following our actionable guide, you’ll never have to worry about how you should go about repairing your lawn! Embrace your newfound gardening knowledge, and don’t forget to tag us on social media so we can see how your lawn comes back to life better than ever before!For more tips related to all things gardening, feel free to check out our blogs!

Frequently Asked Questions

Our most frequently asked questions on grass patch repair.

Should I use grass seed or sod to repair my lawn?

Installing sod is generally quicker than planting grass seed, but grass seed is a much more affordable option. If you’re new to gardening, we recommend using grass seed as it is not only more affordable than installing sod, it’s DIY-friendly too.

Will brown grass repair on its own?

If no other problems are present, such as pests, disease or poor nutrients, then brown grass is usually a sign of dormancy which is completely natural. During times of sparse rainfall, grass goes into a dormant hibernation-like state and turns brown to conserve water. To resolve this, you can either give patches of brown grass an inch of water on a weekly basis or let it return to its normal state when the weather cools and rainfalls naturally increase.

How long does lawn repair take?

In the right conditions, most varieties of grass seeds will begin to grow about 8-10 days after they have been distributed to the bare spots in your lawn. The complete repair process with grass seed takes approximately 6-8 weeks.

How regularly should I treat my lawn?

Although the state of your lawn relies on factors unique to your climate, grass type and other factors, generally, we suggest you treat your lawn 4-5 times a year. 

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