How to Patch a Spotty Lawn in No Time


Finding yourself with a spotty lawn can feel like one of the most irritating parts of homeownership. The rest of your lawn may be lush and green, but sometimes you can end up with ugly, brown, dead patches.

A number of different problems can cause a spotty lawn. If you have a pet that uses just one part of the yard most frequently as a bathroom spot, that’s a sure way to kill the grass. Heavy foot traffic can damage your lawn, too. Other causes include heat and drought and damage from grubs and animal digging. Luckily, it’s a fairly easy process to patch a spotty lawn.

If you need to patch a spotty lawn, it only takes part of an afternoon to source the materials you need and plant the patches. Though you’ll have to arrange for days to weeks of consistent watering. It’s also not too expensive, but prices vary based on how much ground you have to cover. Grass seed itself can run around $10 for a 3-pound bag. You can find grass seed starter fertilizer for around $20, which often covers around 5,000 square feet. You can also find grass seed/fertilizer mixes at around $20 for about a 12-pound bag.

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Patch a Spotty Lawn Brown Spots

Dead patches in your lawn can be unsightly and disrupt the whole look of your yard. Image: SingjaiStock/Shutterstock

Patching Up That Spotty Lawn

In order to patch a spotty lawn, you will need:

  • A tape measure
  • A metal rake (bow-style rakes work well)
  • Either the grass seed and fertilizer or grass seed/fertilizer mix (many will tell you how many square feet they cover)
  • Chopped straw or leaves
  • A way to water the area, like a hose or sprinkler

The steps to patch a spotty lawn are:

  • Start by measuring the area that you need to reseed. You can take a rough measurement using a tape measure.
  • Buy seed and fertilizer based on the square foot measurement of the patches.
  • A few days before you seed, make sure to water the lawn so it’s visibly wet. Let the lawn dry before you add the seeds. This will help make the soil more inviting to seed germination.
  • To patch a spotty lawn, clear the area you need to reseed. There may be dead grass or other debris that you will need to scrape away using the metal rake. Rake so that just the soil remains, making sure to get the teeth of the rake into the soil to fully loosen any dead grass.
  • Pick up and clear away any clumps of dead grass or other debris.
  • Fully loosen the top two or three inches of the soil using the rake. Use even pressure and long strokes. The seeds need loose soil in order to take root.
  • Scatter the seed or seed/fertilizer mix over the loose soil. There’s no need to plant the grass seed like other seeds. You can patch a spotty lawn by keeping the seeds on the top of the soil.
  • If fertilizer wasn’t mixed in with your grass seed, add a thin, even layer of fertilizer over the seeds and surrounding soil.
  • Then add a light layer of straw or chopped leaves. That will prevent the seeds and fertilizer from washing away, drying out or being eaten by animals.
  • Finish by watering enough so that the area is visibly wet, but not pooling. Keep the soil moist. You may need to water a couple of times per day — or more if your area is dry.
  • The seeds can sprout anywhere between a few days and a month, depending on type and climate. Keep the area well-watered after sprouting.

And remember, when you patch a spotty lawn, pick a grass seed that does well with your local climate. Some grass seeds have labels for cold climates, for instance.

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