How to Fix Patchy Grass

How to Fix Patchy Grass: Steps, Tips and Tools Required

Bald spots are the bane of any homeowner’s lawn. Whether it’s the heat of summer or a byproduct of pet ownership, patchy lawns are awful. But don’t let that bring you down, because there are some quick, easy fixes you can make to revitalize your lawn and keep it looking lush. In this article I’ll explain how to fix patchy grass and green up your yard so you can enjoy the lush green carpet you’ve always wanted.

Trust and Accuracy Information

This article was last updated on by Lawn Chick Owner Sarah Jameson
Article content reviewed for accuracy by Certified Horticulturist Nicole Forsyth, M.S.

How to Fix Thin or Bald Spots in Your Lawn

If your lawn just has bald spots, it’s as simple a fix as patching them.

For this you’ll have to purchase grass seed online or from your local hardware or big box store, then it’s a matter of planting it and giving it the water it needs to establish itself in your lawn.

How you plant grass seed depends on which type of seed you purchase.

For standard grass seed, you’ll have to cut out the dead area and remove the top few inches of turf. Rake the area until it’s smooth, then mix the seeds with topsoil and cover it with straw or a thin layer of compost to keep the seeds moist and warm for germination.

Water your new grass seed in the morning and mid-afternoon if needed (on hot, dry, windy days). is reader supported. If you make a purchase after clicking a link, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

How to Fix Patchy Grass in Your Lawn

Fixing Small Sections of Lawn

For an easier application, you could buy an all-in-one product like Scott’s EZ Seed Patch & Repair for a quick fix to any bald spot. You’ll simply have to rake the ground to loosen the soil, then apply the EZ Seed, and water it daily.

New seed is going to need more frequent watering, but be careful, since there is a balancing act to it. You want your soil to stay moist, but don’t water so much you drown the new seeds.

Patch and Repair products come with mulch in the bag, which will retain water and help keep your seeds moist longer to improve germination rates.

Fixing Large Thin & Patchy Sections of Lawn

If your lawn is looking thin overall, you can try over-seeding or re-seeding instead to revitalize it. The principles are the same as fixing bald spots, but you’re applying to your entire lawn.

First, you’ll have to rake your lawn thoroughly to remove any debris, such as leaves or dead grass. Then you’ll spread the seeds over your lawn and cover with a half-inch of compost or topsoil. Rake again, gently this time, to get the seeds in the grass. You want good seed-to-soil contact for the grass to grow. After that, water your lawn in the mornings and evenings until the grass starts to grow.

Bringing Out the Big Tools for a Lawn Overhaul

If you want to go the extra mile, rent an aerator and run it over your lawn before seeding. For the best chances of success when re-seeding a lawn altogether, pick the peak seasons to do it.

Timing is very important when it comes to lawn care, as heat and humidity add stress to any lawn and hinder growth. It’s best to re-seed a lawn in early spring, or early fall.

Maintaining Your Lawn After Repairs

Once the task of getting your lawn back in shape is done, the next task is maintaining it.

How to Fix Thin Grass Patches in Your Lawn

Watering Your Lawn

As the grass seeds develop, increase the amount of water to keep the top two inches of soil moist. Don’t mow your lawn yet and wait for the grass to grow to about 4 inches.

After it’s sufficiently established, you’ll only need to water it 1-2 times per week, but you’ll need to thoroughly soak it, as opposed to just a quick water watering. This will encourage the roots of your grass to grow deep.

Proper Fertilization

Feeding your grass is also a must to make sure your new grass sprouts sufficiently take root.

About 6-8 weeks after your initial seeding, spread lawn fertilizer I use Milorganite, which is organic and contains Iron to help your grass turn a dark green) around your yard using a broadcast fertilizer spreader. Repeat every 6-8 weeks.

This keeps your lawn nutrient-rich for grass to grow strong enough to crowd out any weeds and stand up to the heat of summer.

I also recommend top-dressing your lawn with a thin (one-quarter inch) layer of organic compost once every 2 or 3 years. I do this, aerate my lawn, and overseed at the same time.

Weed Control & Prevention

As an extra preventative measure against weeds, make sure to use a good weed killer. I recommend using a starter fertilizer + weed preventer (I have had great results using this one).

You have to be careful about what you use, because some pre-emergent weed preventers will prevent your grass seed from germinating.

Once your grass is growing, eliminate weeds early by using a post-emergent weed killer. New grass can’t withstand a weed killer until it’s fully grown in, usually after you’ve mown it 3 or 4 times. After that, it’s safe to use.

After You Fix Patchy Grass in Your Lawn, It's Time to Think About Weed Control

To spot-treat for established weeds, I recommend using the herbicide Tenacity. There’s a video and how-to included in my article on eliminating lawn weeds.

Lawn Pests

Insects are another major concern for any lawn. Grubs are a nuisance, and unfortunately, once they’ve established themselves, lawn grubs can be a pain to remove.

That means the best way to get rid of grubs is to keep them from ever getting in!

There’s any number of preventative grub control products that are best applied to your lawn in early spring, around the time grubs hatch.

Now You Know How to Fix Patchy Grass

With regular feeding, occasional seeding, and consistent watering, your lawn will be able to withstand the tests of time.

Once you get your lawn looking great, it’s a simple matter of maintaining it to keep your workload down. A strong lawn will maintain itself, if you let it.

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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.

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