How to Fix Bare Spots in Your Lawn: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Fix Bare Spots in Your Lawn: A Step-by-Step Guide - My Store
A vibrant and well-maintained lawn adds beauty and charm to any home. However, one common issue that can mar the overall beauty of a lawn is the presence of bare spots. In this blog post, we will guide you through expert tips on identifying the causes of bare spots in your lawn and provide you with the best methods to effectively repair them. By the end of this guide, you'll be equipped with the knowledge and tools to revive your lawn and achieve that lush, green carpet you've always desired.

What Causes Bare Spots in Lawns?

Patch of dead grass in green lawn

Understanding the reasons that lead to bare spots is the critical first step towards effective lawn care and successful repair.

Insufficient Watering

Proper watering is crucial for maintaining a healthy lawn. When the grass does not receive enough water, it can lead to patches of dead or dry grass, resulting in noticeable bare spots. To avoid this issue, ensure your lawn receives sufficient water, especially during hot and dry periods, and adjust your watering schedule based on weather conditions.

A smart irrigation controller offers an innovative solution to address insufficient watering and prevent bare spots on lawns. By utilizing advanced technologies like weather monitoring and automated scheduling, it optimizes water usage, ensuring that each section of the lawn receives the right amount of water at the right time, promoting healthier and more vibrant grass growth.

Over-fertilizing or Chemical Spills

While fertilizers are beneficial for lawn growth, excessive application can have detrimental effects. Over-fertilizing can cause an imbalance in nutrients, stressing the grass and leading to sparse or dead areas.

Additionally, accidental spills of chemicals, such as herbicides or pesticides, can harm the grass and create bare spots. To prevent this, use fertilizers and chemicals according to the manufacturer's guidelines, and be cautious during application to avoid spills or drift onto healthy turf.

Damage from Lawnmower

Improper mowing practices can be a common cause of bare spots on lawns. Repeatedly mowing over the same area or cutting the grass too short can weaken the turf and lead to thinning or bare patches. Adopt proper mowing practices, such as maintaining the correct mowing height and alternating mowing patterns, to minimize damage and promote healthy grass growth.

Infestation of Grubs or Other Insects

Grubs and other lawn-damaging insects can wreak havoc on your lawn's root system, causing extensive damage and bare spots. Regularly inspect your lawn for signs of insect infestations, such as wilting grass or the presence of pests, and take appropriate measures, such as using insecticides or natural pest control methods, to address the issue.

Pet Damage or Heavy Foot Traffic

Pets and heavy foot traffic can result in wear and tear on the lawn, leading to thinning and bare areas. While it may be challenging to completely prevent pets or foot traffic, consider designating specific paths or areas for frequent use to reduce the impact on the rest of the lawn.

Lawn Diseases

Various lawn diseases, such as fungal infections, can cause significant damage to the grass and create bare spots. Learn to recognize the symptoms of common lawn diseases, such as discolored or wilted grass, and promptly treat affected areas to prevent further spread.

Choose the Best Method to Patch Your Lawn

When it comes to repairing your lawn and fixing those unsightly bare spots, two primary methods stand out: patching with grass seed and patching with sod. Each method has its unique advantages, and the choice depends on your specific needs and preferences.

Patching with Grass Seed

Patching bare spots with grass seed is a natural and cost-effective approach that comes with several benefits:

Cost-Effective Solution: Grass seed is generally more budget-friendly than sod, making it an excellent choice for homeowners looking for an economical option.

Tailored to Your Preference: With a wide variety of grass seed options available, you can select the specific grass type that suits your lawn's needs and local climate conditions.

DIY-Friendly: Spreading grass seed is a simple and DIY-friendly process that allows you to take control of the lawn repair project.

When to Choose Grass Seed:

  • You have a limited budget for lawn repair.
  • Time is not a constraint, and you are willing to wait for the grass to grow and fill in the bare spots.
  • You prefer a wide variety of grass options to tailor your lawn to your liking.
  • You enjoy taking on DIY projects and want to be hands-on in the lawn repair process.

Patching with Sod

Man installing sod

Sodding, or using pre-grown grass patches, offers an instant solution for a lush and even lawn:

Instant Results: Sod provides immediate greenery and instant results, transforming your lawn with a fully established turf.

Erosion Control: Sod acts as a quick and effective erosion control measure, making it an excellent choice for areas prone to soil erosion or heavy foot traffic.

Weed-Free Lawn: Sod is typically weed-free upon installation, giving your lawn a head start in the battle against unwanted weeds.

When to Choose Sod:

  • You desire an instant transformation and want a green lawn right away.
  • Time is of the essence, and you need a quick lawn repair solution for an upcoming event or occasion.
  • Your lawn is prone to erosion or soil compaction, and you need immediate soil stabilization.

    What You Need to Fix Bare Spots

    Patching with Grass Seed

    Tools and Equipment

    1. Gardening tools such as a spade and rake to prepare the bare spots for seeding.
    2. A seed spreader for even distribution of the grass seed.
    3. A watering can or garden hose with a sprinkler attachment to water the newly seeded areas.


    High-quality grass seed suitable for your lawn's specific needs and local climate conditions.

    Optional Materials 

    1. Topsoil or compost to improve soil quality.
    2. Lawn fertilizer.

    Patching with Sod

    Tools and Equipment

    1. Gardening tools such as a spade and rake.
    2. A lawn roller (optional) to ensure good contact between the sod and the soil.


    High-quality sod pieces that match the grass type of your existing lawn.

    Optional Materials 

    1. Topsoil or compost to level the bare spots.
    2. Lawn fertilizer.

      How to Plant Grass Seed in Bare Spots

      A lawn with grass seedlings spread evenly across the surface

      Prepare the Soil

      Preparing the soil is the foundation for successful grass seed germination and growth. Follow these steps to create an ideal environment for your seeds:

      Loosen the Soil: Use a rake or spade to loosen the soil in the bare spots. Loosening the soil allows the grass roots to penetrate easily and promotes better water absorption.

      Remove Debris: Clear the area of any debris, rocks, or other obstacles that could hinder the seed-to-soil contact. This ensures that the grass seed makes direct contact with the soil for optimal germination.

      Spread the Grass Seed

      Even distribution of grass seed is vital to achieve an even and vibrant lawn. Consider the following tips for successful seed spreading:

      Use a Seed Spreader: A seed spreader helps evenly distribute the grass seed, preventing clumps or over-seeding in certain areas.

      Determine the Right Seed Amount: Follow the recommended seeding rate for the specific grass type you are using. Over-seeding can lead to overcrowding, while under-seeding may result in sparse coverage.

      Apply Topdressing

      Topdressing can enhance soil quality and improve seed-to-soil contact, providing a conducive environment for grass seed germination. Here's how to apply topdressing properly:

      Choose the Right Material: Use quality topsoil or compost for topdressing. This can help enrich the soil and promote healthy grass growth.

      Spread Gently: Apply a thin layer of topdressing over the seeded area, ensuring that the grass seed is still visible. Gently spreading the topdressing prevents disturbing the seeds.

      Water the Seeded Area

      Proper watering is critical to support seed germination and early growth. Follow these watering guidelines to ensure the best results:

      Water Immediately: Water the seeded area immediately after planting to ensure the seeds are thoroughly moistened.

      Consistent Moisture: Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged during the germination period (usually 7 to 21 days). This encourages healthy seedling growth.

      Limit Foot Traffic

      Newly seeded areas are delicate and vulnerable to damage. Minimize foot traffic to help the grass seedlings establish:

      Mark the Seeded Areas: Use stakes or markers to indicate where the bare spots are to prevent accidental foot traffic.

      Be Cautious: Avoid walking on the freshly seeded areas until the grass has fully established and is strong enough to withstand light foot traffic.

      Wait Before Mowing

      Patience is key when waiting for the new grass to establish itself. Follow these recommendations before mowing:

      Wait for Height: Allow the grass to grow to a height of about 3 to 4 inches before mowing for the first time.

      Gentle Mowing: When it's time to mow, be gentle to avoid uprooting the young grass seedlings.

      How to Repair Bare Spots with Sod

      Person watering lawn with hose.

      Remove the Old Turf

      Before laying new sod, it's essential to remove the damaged turf properly. Follow these steps for a clean and efficient removal process:

      Cut Out the Damaged Turf: Use a sharp spade or sod cutter to cut out the damaged turf in the bare spots. Make clean cuts to ensure a smooth surface for laying the new sod.

      Dispose of the Old Turf: Properly dispose of the removed turf, either by composting or following your local waste disposal guidelines.

      Prepare the Soil

      Proper soil preparation is crucial to ensure the successful establishment of the new sod. Follow these steps to prepare the soil:

      Level the Soil: Use a rake to level the soil in the bare spots. This creates a smooth and even surface for laying the sod.

      Provide a Suitable Base: Ensure the soil is loose and well-draining. Adding a thin layer of topsoil or compost can improve the soil's quality and provide essential nutrients for the sod.

      Cut and Lay the Sod

      Laying the sod correctly is essential for a seamless and healthy lawn. Follow these steps for cutting and fitting the sod:

      Measure and Cut: Measure the bare spots and cut the sod pieces to fit the area perfectly. Use a sharp knife or sod cutter for clean cuts.

      Lay the Sod: Place the cut sod pieces tightly together, avoiding gaps between the sections. Stagger the seams like brickwork to create a natural and even look.

      Water the New Sod

      Proper watering is critical during the initial phase of sodding to help the new sod take root and establish:

      Water Immediately: Water the newly laid sod immediately after installation to ensure it is thoroughly moistened.

      Consistent Watering: Keep the sod consistently moist but not waterlogged during the establishment period. Watering once or twice daily is usually necessary, depending on weather conditions.

      Wait Before Mowing

      Be patient and give the new sod time to root and establish before mowing:

      Allow Time to Root: Avoid mowing the newly sodded areas until the grass has firmly rooted, typically after about two to three weeks.

      Perform a Tug Test: Test the sod's readiness by gently tugging at a corner of the sod. If it resists lifting, it's likely rooted and ready for its first mow.

      FAQs Related to Fixing Bare Spots in Lawns

      A person spreading fertilizer on a lawn.

      Can I just throw grass seed on bare spots?

      Simply throwing grass seed on bare spots may not yield the best results. For successful growth, it's essential to prepare the soil properly, ensure good seed-to-soil contact, and follow watering and care guidelines to promote germination and healthy grass growth.

      What is the best way to grow grass in bare spots?

      The best way to grow grass in bare spots is by following these steps: prepare the soil, evenly distribute the grass seed, water regularly, and avoid walking on newly seeded areas.

      Will fertilizer fill in bare spots?

      Fertilizer can improve overall lawn health but won't directly fill in bare spots. Use grass seed or sodding along with fertilizer for spot repair.

      Will patchy new grass fill in?

      Patchy new grass may fill in over time with proper care, but achieving even seed distribution helps minimize patchiness.

      Will grass fill in bare spots on its own?

      Grass may naturally spread and fill in bare spots, but seeding or sodding accelerates the process for more reliable results.

      What causes bare spots in the lawn?

      Bare spots in the lawn can result from insufficient watering, over-fertilizing, lawn diseases, pet damage, and insect infestations.

      When is the best time to repair the lawn?

      The best time to repair the lawn depends on the type of grass you have. For cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass, fescue, and ryegrass, early fall is ideal, while warm-season grasses like Bermuda grass and zoysia grass do better with repairs in early spring. Considering your grass type and regional climate will help you plan for the most successful lawn repair.