Every homeowner dreams of a lush, dark green lawn. Today, many resilient types of grass fight back against weeds and pest infestations and stay strong even in high temperatures.

Despite this, many homeowners still struggle with patchy lawns. For some, few things are more frustrating than a patchy, ugly lawn filled with bald spots and dead grass.

If this is you, start by identifying the root cause of your lawn problems. For example, you’ll need to eliminate bugs, grubs, lawn weeds, or fungi before addressing your patchy lawn. After doing this, follow our top tips for how to fix a patchy lawn efficiently.

Supplies You’ll Need

  • Lawn mower
  • Leaf rake
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Dethatcher
  • Broadcast spreader
  • Shovel
  • Grass seed for overseeding
  • Lawn roller (optional)
  • Topsoil or compost (optional)

How to Fix a Patchy Lawn With Seed

Seeding your lawn is a budget-friendly way to fill in patches. However, this approach does take patience while the grass grows back. Use the following steps for repairing a lawn with new seed:

  1. Take a sharp shovel or spade and cut around the dead turf.
  2. Take the flat part of the shovel or spade to remove the dead turf.
  3. Fill the hole with a few inches of clean topsoil, so it’s level with the rest of your yard.
  4. Rake over the area to remove clumpy bits and even out the area.
  5. Place a thin layer of seeds over the area and rake the lawn seeds into the recently added topsoil.
  6. Cover with straw to protect the seeds from pests and birds and retain moisture.
  7. Water immediately using a watering can with a fine rose fitting.

If your lawn is thin all over, you should overseed it using similar steps to improve the health of your entire lawn.

For Overseeding:

  1. Rake the entire area and remove debris and leaves from the turf.
  2. Cast seeds over the whole turf, spreading about a half inch of topsoil or compost over the lawn to cover them.
  3. Carefully rake the seeds and add topsoil, topdressing, or compost into the grass to ensure your seeds and soil have good contact.
  4. Water the seeds twice a day until they germinate. We recommend the early morning and evening to prevent the water from evaporating immediately, especially during hotter months.

How to Fix a Patchy Lawn With Sod

A quicker alternative to seeding your lawn is patching it with sod. This option will quickly repair any thin, patchy spots. However, you’ll need to carefully prep your soil to ensure the sod takes to your new lawn.

Take the following steps to fix patchy grass with sod:

  1. Purchase rolls of sod from a sod farm or local garden center.
  2. Remove the patchy areas of your lawn with a sharp spade or shovel. Make sure you dig out the brown grass, including its roots, cutting it a bit below the patchy area into green grass. You should end up with a spot that is several inches deep.
  3. Loosen the soil in the patchy area with a rake. This step allows the roots from the sod to sink in and take root.
  4. Add topsoil or compost to the area. Use a leveler to ensure that the new sod will be at the same level as the rest of your lawn.
  5. Trim the sod to fit the patch area. Do not stretch or overlap the sod. You want it to be firmly against the soil, so the area doesn’t reject it.
  6. Water the sod immediately and continue watering daily for several weeks unless you’re receiving frequent rain. Avoid creating water puddles on your new sod, as this can kill the grass.
  7. Hold off on mowing because mowing it too early could destroy all your hard work. After 10 days, gently pull at the sod to see if it has knitted into the soil. If it hasn’t, continue watering it and give it time to fully establish itself into your lawn.

How To Maintain a Healthy Lawn

Once your lawn has been treated with sod or seeds, use the following landscaping and lawn care tips for maintaining a healthy, even lawn:

  • Mow your lawn regularly. Mowing can improve the health of your lawn and prevent pest problems and weeds. As a general rule of thumb, keep your lawn at 2.5 to 3.5 inches high to help it develop deep roots. On average, you’ll need to cut your lawn every five to 10 days, or about once a week.
  • Water at the optimal time. Check what time your sprinklers are currently watering your grass. Many people water their lawns at the wrong time and too frequently. Night watering can lead to mold and fungus, so this should only be done when your grass is first growing or growing back. Otherwise, watering your mature grass weekly is healthy. Of course, you’ll want to research your area and the particular type of grass you have, but this is a good starting point.
  • Mulch every time you mow. Keep leaf clippings and apply the right amount of fertilizer to your lawn. Save the environment by reducing the number of leaf clippings in landfills and simultaneously providing your yard with essential nutrients.
  • Keep up with lawn maintenance. Don’t let leaves pile up on your lawn, as this can encourage pests to stick around. On top of that, leaves block sunlight. Wet leaves can even encourage disease. Instead, bag leaves and use them as mulch or add them to your compost pile.
  • Use a lawn service. If you struggle to keep up with your lawn, consider hiring a reliable lawn service provider to apply pesticides, herbicides, weed killers, and chemical treatments. If you hire a lawn service, keep an eye out for red flags and damage until you’ve found a company you can trust.

Closing Thoughts

Slow down and take your time as you repair your lawn. If you rush it the first time, you’ll need to redo it, costing you more money and time. Consider your options and set aside multiple hours to tackle this lawn repair project.

Sod will be more expensive than seeding your lawn. However, the sod will give you faster results. Depending on your goals, you may want to seed or sod or combine the two in different parts of your lawn. Regardless of your choice, take your time and don’t skip any steps during the process. The results will be worthwhile.

If all else fails, consider hiring a lawn care provider to assess your lawn, treat for any problems, and fix the patchiness of your existing grass.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Elisabeth Beauchamp

Elisabeth Beauchamp

Senior Staff Writer

Elisabeth Beauchamp is a content producer for Today’s Homeowner’s Lawn and Windows categories. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in Journalism and Linguistics. When Elisabeth isn’t writing about flowers, foliage, and fertilizer, she’s researching landscaping trends and current events in the agricultural space. Elisabeth aims to educate and equip readers with the tools they need to create a home they love.

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photo of Lora Novak

Lora Novak

Senior Editor

Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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