Working Time: 20 minutes to 1 hour
Total Time: Two to six weeks
Skill Level: Beginner
Material Cost: $5 to $10
Tools and Supplies Needed For Reseeding:
-Core aerator (optional)
-Reflective tape or pinwheels (optional)
-Burlap or wheat straw (optional)
-Compost or loamy soil
Ideally, patching bare areas with seed or sod should be done early in the growing season so it can take root and blend into the surrounding area before the winter dormant season. This ideal time depends on the climate where you live.
When to Patch Bare Areas of Your Lawn
SEED VS SOD
Patching with sod:
Patching with seed:
-Lower initial costs
-Easy to install
-Stronger root system
-No protection needed (compared to seeding)
-Can be planted during most growing seasons
-Great for difficult terrain
RAKE THE AREA
Rake and remove any debris or dead grass from the area, using a garden rake. Now is also the time to examine the area for grub damage. If the damaged patch of lawn pulls up easily, like a rug being lifted, you may have a grub problem that needs correcting.
LOOSEN THE SOIL
Break up the soil with a hard-toothed lawn rake or a garden cultivator. If the soil seems heavily compacted, you might consider aerating it with a core aeration tool. This simple manual tool cuts aeration holes in the soil when you drive it into the ground with your foot.
AMEND THE SOIL
Sprinkle several inches of compost or loamy soil and mix it into the existing soil with the rake. Turn the rake upside down and use the top edge to even out the surface, spreading some of the topdressing into the adjacent areas.
SPREAD THE SEED
Sprinkle grass seed evenly across the patch area, thick enough to cover the surface but not so thick that the seeds pile up on top of one another. Do not fertilize yet. While this step was once recommended, most experts suggest that fertilizers are not useful until after the grasses are well established.
RAKE THE SEED
Lightly rake in the seed to distribute it evenly. This will also cover some of the seed with a thin layer of soil, which can help keep it in place. Until the seeds germinate, you may need to protect the area from birds. Using reflective tape or pinwheels mounted on short stakes can help deter them.
Your patch area will require light watering daily—or perhaps even twice daily—for the first 10 days or so, until the seeds germinate and sprout. If hot weather is a problem, you can use a sheet of burlap or a thin layer of wheat straw to cover the patch keep it moist. Keep watering every two days for another month or so; then you can reduce watering to weekly as the new grass becomes mature.
MOW WHEN READY
Allow the grass to grow slightly longer than the rest of your lawn until the color of the patched area begins to blend in with the rest of your lawn. This may mean mowing around it for two or three mowing cycles. Some seed manufacturers suggest waiting a full seven weeks before mowing new grass.