9 pointers for evaluating and repairing a troubled lawn

Catching problems early and fixing them is an important part of having a beautiful and lush lawn. Here are some pointers to keep in mind when you evaluate a troubled lawn.

9 pointers for evaluating and repairing a troubled lawn

1. Something old, nothing new

When you repair a lawn, stick with the same grasses you already have in place.

  • It will look odd if you add a new, different variety to an established lawn to cover a dead spot, because the new grass is not likely to match the existing lawn's colour and texture.
  • If you've just moved in and aren't sure what variety grows in your lawn, dig up a clump and match it at the local nursery or home centre.

2. Fix a small bit of damaged turf

  • Cut out a section 30 to 60 centimetres square with the bare spot in one corner.
  • Cut the roots with a spade, lift out the piece of sod and rotate it so the spot is in the opposite corner.
  • Step on the patch to firm the roots in place.
  • Keep moist until new grass fills the damaged section.

3. Patch larger bare spots

  • Remove any dead grass and dig some compost into the soil.
  • Rake smooth and at a level slightly higher than the surrounding lawn.
  • Sow seed, or plant sod or sprigs.
  • Tamp with the back of a rake to ensure that the seed or roots make good contact with the soil.
  • Use clumps trimmed from the edge of your lawn to be assured of getting a good match.

4. Update an old bluegrass or fescue lawn

  • Overseed in spring or fall.
  • Mow the grass very low and rake vigorously to remove thatch and weeds while scoring the soil's surface.
  • Spread a one-centimetre layer of weed-free compost, and sow seed at half the rate recommended for new lawns.
  • Tamp to ensure soil contact, mulch and water often to keep the seeds moist until they germinate.

This is also a good way to introduce perennial ryegrass into a primarily bluegrass or fescue lawn, which improves its wear resistance during the winter months.

5. Should you start over?

Many landscaping pros evaluate a lawn based on this 50/50 rule of thumb: if more than half of your lawn is beset with weeds, invasive grasses, dead patches or other problems, it's usually less work to completely renovate the lawn than to do spot repairs.

6. What to do about a brown lawn

A brown lawn may be caused by overzealous mowing rather than lack of water.

  • Make sure you're removing only about a third of the blade when you cut.

7. Should you plant grass beneath trees?

Lawns beneath trees can suffer from fungal diseases encouraged by the shade and lack of air circulation.

  • Before taking drastic measures, prune off the tree's lower branches and watch your lawn improve.

8. Reasons not to grow grass

To look good and provide maximum benefits, grass needs regular mowing, food and water.

  • If a lawn would need daily watering, that's a good indication that you might want to try something very different in that area, such as a terrace or a small water feature.

9. Lawn alternatives

  • You may find it easier to substitute a ground cover for grass, especially if your yard has steep slopes or areas of deep shade.

Ground covers don't need mowing or frequent weeding once they're established, and many require less sun than good-quality lawn grass.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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