This guide will instruct you on How to plant grass seed in Bare spots and help you quickly patch those ugly brown spots on any part of your lawn.
Below you will find out why you have bare spots and how to repair them quickly.
Bare patches on lawns can occur for various reasons, but either way, most people agree that bare patches look bad and detract from the overall appearance of your lawn.
How to Fix Bare Spots on Your Lawn
Below, you’ll find our step-by-step guide for grass patch repair – with the help you need to reseed your bare patches – and quickly get your lawn looking its best again.
Step 1: Determine Why You Have Bare Patches
The first step in fixing brown lawn spots your lawn is to determine why you’re having problems in the first place. Carefully dig a spade or two of it up to determine if you have an infestation of insects or grubs.
If your lawn is free of pests, the next step is to look at water and sunlight. If water pools near the bare spots during rainstorms or a nearby tree prevent them from getting enough sunlight, you’ll need to address these problems before reseeding.
Shade from a tree is often the most challenging problem to fix, and some homeowners think they may have to cut down a tree to repair a bare spot. If this proves to be your problem, you may select a full-shade grass seed for bare spots instead.
Dog Urine Spots on Lawn: If you suspect or know that your favorite four-legged friend is causing the bare patches on your lawn, check out this handy article for ways to prevent dog urine spots on your property.
Step 2: Plant the Grass at an Optimal Time
You must patch the bare spots of your lawn at the right time. If you have cool-season grass, plant it in cooler temperatures. And if you have warm-season grass (like Bermuda), it will require warmer temperatures.
The best temperature for growing grass seed is 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit, with soil temperature ranging between 50-65 degrees. While this is the ideal temperature range, grass will grow in slightly colder or warmer temperatures, but the germination process will take longer, and the success of grass seed growth may be less.
Most of you will probably want to plant in the fall. However, spring can be just as timely. The cooler weather makes it easier for seeds to retain moisture. It’s common sense that as we dehydrate more quickly in the summer months – so will your grass seed.
Another plus for off-season grass seed planting is that the vast majority of weeds that grass competes with die during these cooler months.
If you care to follow the “technical route” to grow grass from seed – check out this article from my son’s alma mater – Michigan State University’s Agricultural Department – on “Establishing a New Lawn from Seed.”
Step 3: Prepare the Damaged Lawn
Once you’ve corrected the underlying problem, you can start repairing the damage. The first step in this process is to use a rake to remove the old dead grass and any leaf debris, leaving only bare soil where the new grass seed will be sown.
Next, you’ll want to break up the soil a bit. A small hand cultivator is usually the right tool for this job. It will loosen the surface soil reasonably well without dislodging so much that you’ll have erosion problems during your next thunderstorm.
Step 4: Add Organic Material To the Soil
Although grass is well-known for growing in all conditions, it tends to germinate best in fertile soil. For this reason, it’s a good idea to add some extra organic material before you spread the grass seed.
Some compost or a bag of garden soil from a home improvement store will usually do the trick, and you don’t need to spread more than an inch or two on the bare spot to achieve the desired results.
Dog Patch repairs: Note, If you are fixing bare patches because of dog urination, you should buy a small bag of Lime for your lawn, again sold at Home improvement stores which should be lightly spread into the spot to neutralize the soil acidity, before you spread and bury the grass seed.
The video below addresses this issue and demonstrates the use of grass seed to repair bare spots in your lawn.
Once you’ve spread your organic material, use a cultivator or a garden rake to incorporate it into the soil. While you don’t want to bury the new material, it should be thoroughly mixed into the top few inches of your lawn’s dirt.
This step may not be necessary if you’re using a grass seed embedded in a growing medium, as the medium will usually supply all of the nutrients your new grass will need while it’s getting started.
Step 5: Apply New Grass Seed
Now that the bare spot is ready, it’s time to lay down your new seed. Knowing how to plant grass seed in bare spots is getting the proper seed density. Like planting a garden, a good rule of thumb regarding seeding density is to get about 15 seeds in every square inch of bare ground.
To approximate this, mark out a square inch and spread 15 seeds within it, then use that as a visual guide for how thickly to spread the seed on the rest of the patch.
Don’t worry too much about being precise, but try to achieve an even and reasonably dense spread throughout.
Not sure what grass seed to use in Your Region?
Video from “This Old House” – How To Choose Grass Seed:
Step 6: Work Grass Seed Into the Soil
Now that you’ve seeded the surface of the bare patch, you need to cover the new seeds with a bit of soil to prevent them from washing away before they have a chance to germinate and take root. There are two ways of accomplishing this.
The first is using a garden rake gently rake the seeds into the soil. Ideally, you should aim to work them into a depth of about half an inch, as this will give them just enough cover to protect them from the rain.
The second option is to use a bit of additional topsoil to cover the seeds, aiming for a depth of about half an inch. This is usually the easier of the two methods, especially for more significant bare spots.
Step 7: Water Grass Seed
Like all other plants, grass needs ample water to grow and thrive. The first time you water your grass seed, you must be careful to dampen the soil well without creating puddles.
This initial watering will help start germination and keep the bare soil from drying out and blowing away like dust.
Water grass once daily for approximately 15 minutes per zone.
Step 8: Keep a Close Eye on Grass as it Grows
After planting your grass, you’ll need to keep a close eye on it as grass grows in the bare spots. Grass seed germination can take anywhere from 5 to 30 days, depending on the weather.
So the most essential part of taking care of new grass during its first few weeks of growth is watering it daily.
As with your first watering, you want to dampen the soil, not soak it. Too much water can cause the roots of the young plants to rot and reduce the overall thickness of your new grass as it matures.
Another step you may have to take in caring for your new grass is protecting it from intense sunlight on sweltering days. Excessive heat and sunlight can stress the young plants and cause the ground to dry out, leading to weak early-stage growth.
Note: If you do have a scorching, bright day, you can use a bit of burlap or a sheet to cover the ground.
These materials will lock moisture in for a while, allowing for airflow to the plants. Be sure not to use anything too tightly woven, as the lack of air and heat buildup could harm the plants. This step will also not be necessary if your new grass is in a shaded area.
Step 9: Let New Grass Grow Long Before Mowing
The final step in the lawn repair process is to refrain from mowing it until it is over three inches tall.
While the long grass may seem like an annoyance – letting it grow longer before mowing is essential for the plant’s health.
Don’t add fertilizer to the newly seeded lawn until it is fully grown. Then, choose a good starter fertilizer to prevent or remove weeds that can develop.
Mowing stresses the grass and limits its ability to conduct photosynthesis by reducing the surface area of the individual blades. While mature grass isn’t harmed by regular mowing, younger plants need to be allowed to reach a decent size before they are cut for the first time.
After you have grown a beautiful lawn, learn How To Stripe Your Lawn – just like the Pros do – It’s easy!
Other Ways To Fix Bare Spots on Your Lawn:
A) Using Sod or Lawn Repair Mix instead of Grass Seed
If you want to use Sod from your local Landscape Nursery or Big Box Home Improvement store, you can skip the Grass Seed only method and find a suitable sod, usually sold in 18 x 24″ strips, to grow in your new grass patch.
Simply cut the sod to match the size of your patch or patches, and continue with the watering steps below. You may also elect to buy Lawn Patch Mix – which is sold in bags and contains Recycled newspaper, Grass seed, and fertilizer all in one mix.
You spread the mixture, water it, and you’re done. The recycled mulch keeps the seed from washing or blowing away, while the fertilizer feeds the grass seed. Lawn patch mix is not as cheap as grass seed, but it’s very convenient if you only fix a few small patches.
B) Using Grass Seed Mat (Roll-up)
If you’re short on time and want an all-in-one package for growing grass, then a Grass Seed Mat, sometimes referred to as a Seed Mat or Carpet Grass application – could be your solution.
You prepare the ground as you would for the standard grass seed installation by raking out the soil – rolling out the grass seed mat containing biodegradable fabric, grass seed, and fertilizer – providing a short watering cycle 2-3 times a day, and that’s it.
The manufacturer estimates 5-6 weeks to fully germinate and grow grass seed with grass mat material. Precaution includes grass mat installation with a daily temperature between 40-90 degrees and adequately securing the mat so it doesn’t blow away.
Now that you know how to plant grass seed in the bare spots of your lawn, you can quickly restore the appearance of your yard and fix bare or thin spots that have developed over the years. For all you “Visual learners,” here are some great step-by-step illustrations from WikiHow that you can also refer to.
Unless you switch over to Artificial Grass, you should plan on seasonal patching and repair of damaged grass.
If the problem is confined to patches, though, these instructions will help you make quick work of helping restore your lawn’s health and grow your lawn fast.
References & Additional Resources