Best Time to Repair Lawn

What’s the Best Time to Repair Lawn Damage?

If your lawn is looking a bit lackluster because of damage or neglect, you might be wondering what the best time to repair lawn issues is. Repairing your lawn at the wrong time of year can be a waste of money and time. With that said, the answer is that the best time of year to repair your lawn depends on the cause of damage.

If there are several causes of damage, then you might have to use different approaches at different times of the year to achieve the results you want. In this article I’ll walk you through diagnosing the problems and repairing your lawn.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Horticulturist Arthur Davidson, A.S.

Should I Repair My Lawn Now or Wait for the Best Time of Year?

While it can be temping to decide to simply wait until spring or fall to deal with all the problems you see on your lawn, it may be too late at that point.

When to Repair Lawn
Unfortunately, squirrels cannot be relied on to repair lawn damage. They’re useless freeloaders.

This is because with the end of winter comes the reality of new grass having to deal with the potentially destructive competition posed by weeds during the heat of summer.

Also keep in mind that in northern areas (I’m looking at you, New England), if you wait until spring to do everything, it’s likely that the grass won’t have a sufficient amount of time to establish itself before the trying days of summer heat and dryness.

You’ll either have to water your new grass constantly (forget that week at the lake!), or do it all again in the fall.

When Should Most People Repair Their Lawn?

For most people early fall is the best time repair lawn issues.

With this timing, your lawn will have the time it needs to thrive in the temperate fall weather before the cold weather begins. Annual weed pressure has begun to fade, but soil temperatures are warm enough for rapid germination of your new seed.

Fall is the Best Time to Repair Lawn Damage

However … while the fall is generally the best time of year to repair lawn issues, the exact time of year at which you’re best off dealing with lawn damage depends on its cause.

Let’s go over some of the most common types of lawn damage, how you can address them, and at what times of year you’ll likely have the best long-term success.

But first, here’s what other experts have to say on the subject.

Expert Guidance About Evaluating Damage and Planning Your Lawn Repair Project

Rick Heflebower, an Extension Agent at Horticulture and Natural Resources, Utah State University, explains that summer’s “heat and drought conditions take a toll, because most of our turf grasses are adapted to cool weather.” As long as you’re taking proper care of your lawn, you should notice your lawn’s appearance improving as the weather gets a bit cooler. 

However, in some cases, you may see that some areas don’t regain their former beauty. Rick says that “areas that haven’t greened up” by September will probably need some effort to repair. 

In situations where most or even all of your lawn’s grass is dead, that “lawn generally needs to be re-seeded.” Rick reminds us that “Prior to re-seeding, the dead turf must be removed, making way for the new seed to be applied.” is reader supported. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Lawn Damage Causes (and when to fix each one)

Here are three of the most common causes of lawn damage you may want to address and repair.

Excessive Foot Traffic

Too much foot traffic can lead to bare spots on your lawn. This is because it can cause soil compaction, and your grass may not have time to recover from the damage it sustains on a repeated basis.

Repairing Foot Traffic Damage in Lawns
These toes would never!

Foot traffic lawn damage can happen around pathways, corners, and areas where people are most likely to walk, and it can also happen if you hire contractors to work around your house on a construction or renovation project.

In order to address this problem, you can either prevent so much traffic being on that area of your lawn (to allow it to recover) or you can install a gravel pathway or stepping-stones.

If you want to prevent traffic altogether, you can put in a barrier. If you decide to do any of these things, it’s best to wait for a warmer time of the year to do so, simply for your own comfort and convenience.

Early spring is probably best. Avoid the depths of summer if you don’t want to have to work in oppressive heat (depending on where you live).

You may also want to aerate and overseed this area of your lawn in the spring to ensure it has the best chance to recover and thrive.

Some Additional Guidance on Damage from Foot Traffic

Utah State University Extension Agent Rick Heflebower says that you shouldn’t allow “heavy foot traffic” on your lawn, “especially when the weather is hot and dry or turf is excessively wet.”

If you can’t avoid significant foot traffic on your lawn, you will probably need to aerate more often (to relieve compaction). 


Weeds Can Cause Lawn Damage - How Do You Repair It?

Fall is an excellent time to deal with weeds. One reason for this is because the weather of the late summer and early fall cuts down on the number of annual weeds that are trying to flourish in the soil.

One of the best ways to eliminate lawn weeds is to crowd them out with a healthy lawn. If you plant grass seed in the spring, those seedlings have to compete directly with vigorous annual weed pressure.

Plant your grass seed in the early fall when annual weed pressure is dwindling, and you have the opportunity to thicken your lawn to prepare for next year’s annual weeds.

With most species of weed, most germination occurs in the warmth of the spring and summer.

In the fall, weeds generally become dormant until the following spring. You can harness the natural dormancy cycle to overseed new grass seed in the fall.

Recurring Annual Lawn Damage

One of the things I deal with every year on my lawn is damage from the snow plow along the front border of my lawn. One side of my property has a curb and sustains no damage, but the frontage that lacks a curb has the topsoil scraped clean by the snowplow every season.

Recurring Lawn Damage - How & When to Repair Lawns

I’ve tried bringing in topsoil or compost and re-seeding perennial grasses as soon as the soil temperature allows in the spring, but every year the same problem reoccurs.

There are two ways to address this. The first is to build a fence or barrier that forces the snowplow to steer clear and take a wide berth of my property.

The second, is to accept that perennial grass is just not worth the investment there, and just seed a vigorous annual grass seed that requires less money and resources in that section of your lawn every spring.

Annual Ryegrass is a great choice, and this is what i use on my property (Amazon link to the seed I order each spring) since I don’t want a fence on that part of my property.

You can grow Annual Ryegrass anywhere, even if you try to kill it. It’s a great option to fill in sections of your lawn for one season.

Lawn Disease

Disease of different kinds can also cause bare spots and other problems that can make your property unsightly.

You will first need to find out what kind of disease you’re dealing with in order to know what kind of treatment to use to repair your lawn.

Make sure to carefully follow the directions on treatment products that you purchase. Any diseases in your lawn will need to be treated before you sow any new seed, or you’ll just be wasting money (and seed is expensive).

Look at the instructions on the treatment product you use for information on how long you need to wait prior to re-seeding your lawn.

Grub Infestation

If you have sparse, brown spots on your lawn, you might have a grub infestation.

Best Time to Repair Lawn Damage from Grubs

Grubs are the larvae of a variety of different species of beetle. They are whitish in color, curved in shape, and tend to be about an inch in length. Grubs eat the grass roots, killing your grass, and causing havoc in your lawn. They also can be the catalyst for other lawn issues, like moles tunneling through your yard.

Grubs live around a foot beneath the surface of the ground in the fall. It’s in the spring when they come further up. This is why it’s a great idea to choose spring as the time to tackle your lawn grub infestation.

Best Time to Repair Lawn Damage from Pets

If you have dogs that run wild in your lawn, I have an entire article you should read.

Best Time to Repair Lawn Damage from Pets

But if you have to repair lawn damage from dogs and pets in a hurry, it’s usually best not to wait (or it’ll get worse and your entire lawn will need an overhaul).

Grab some EZ seed on Amazon, or an annual ryegrass (sprinkle peat moss on top, water, and forget it) to fill in those bare patches for the summer, and then do an aggressive over-seeding in the fall.

Planting New Grass Seed to Repair Lawn Damage

If you need to plant new grass seed to cover patchy areas on your lawn, the end of the summer or early fall is (generally) the most favorable time of year to do so.

Before you plant the seeds, make sure that you improve the texture of the soil and amend it if needed.

When to Repair Grass in Lawn

I recommend dethatching your lawn and renting an aerator as well, spreading some starter fertilizer, and then top-dressing with a quarter inch of compost after spreading your seed.

After that, just keep it watered according to my recommendations.

Final Thoughts About Repairing Your Lawn

Forewarned is forearmed, and that applies to lawn care, too.

If you’re here, you’ve made a great start towards a beautiful lawn – learning! I hope you’ll explore some of the other articles on my site to learn more about creating a lush green lawn.

At Lawn Chick, I am committed to publishing accurate, useful, and trustworthy resources for my readers. As part of this commitment, I’ve invited subject matter experts to review our articles for accuracy. I invite you to read our editorial policy and publishing standards which outlines in detail how every article on this site is sourced, edited, fact-checked, and vetted.


Additional Resources
  • How do I repair my lawn and bring it back to life? Ask UNH Extension, University of New Hampshire (link)
  • Lawn Renovation and Repair, Home and Garden Education Center, University of Connecticut (link)
  • Renovate Your Lawn After a Long, Hot Summer by Rick Heflebower, Utah State University (link)


Sarah Jameson’s blog, Lawn Chick, is read by over 2 million homeowners each year and she is regularly cited as an expert source of lawn care knowledge by major publications. Her goal is to meet you where you are, and help you achieve a yard you’ll be proud of. Ready to take the next step toward improving your lawn? Grab her free lawn care cheat-sheet: What to Do When - Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care, or upgrade your garage by browsing her favorite DIY lawn care products.

2 thoughts on “What’s the Best Time to Repair Lawn Damage?

  1. Maureen Patrick

    I would like your advise or expertise. Our neighbour contacted to have a new lawn (sod) last year. Since our front yards abut we decided to do it as well. The sod has died the weeds have taken over and the front yard looks worse than it ever has. We need to talk to people about timing, and what they recommend.

    • Hey, Maureen!

      That’s a huge bummer, especially since sod is so expensive! If you’re in a northern climate early fall is the best time to tackle a lawn renovation – whether you’re hoping to re-sod or start a lawn from seed. Early fall will give your cool season grasses several months of prime growing conditions to establish healthy roots and prepare to over-winter and come back strong next spring.

      I’d say you have a few options:

      • Pull up the old sod and lay new sod.
      • Dethatch, aerate, and overseed your lawn to improve it without the extra labor/expense of starting fresh.
      • Pull up the dead turf with a sod-cutter and start your new lawn from seed.

      Of the three, aerating and overseeding is probably the most cost-effective option, but you may need to overseed again in the spring to get the results you’re looking for next year.

      Your budget and patience will really dictate the route you take, but September is a great time to tackle a major lawn renovation if you’re in a northern lawn. If you’re in the southern US late spring/early summer is best.

      Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *