Got a Patchy Lawn? Tips to Fix It

Even though winter is fast approaching, your grass isn’t dead (even though some bare spots and discoloration suggest otherwise). Your lawn is beginning to transition and prepare for colder temperatures, but it still needs constant attention to stay healthy during winter. And that includes amending those pesky patchy areas.

Just because your lawn has always had bare spots doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. Our Gettysburg landscaping and lawn care professionals can help remedy bald areas and keep your turf healthy.

Why Does My Lawn Have Bare Spots?

An otherwise healthy lawn with sparse areas isn’t the end of the world. It just requires a bit of investigation to determine the cause of the issue.

You may have bare spots if:

  • The soil is unhealthy
  • Your grass experiences excessive foot traffic
  • There was recent chemical exposure
  • Fungus begins growing
  • Your lawn is riddled with animal waste
  • There’s too much shade

Patchy areas in your lawn can result from various things that may be completely outside your control. The most important thing to do to resolve bare grass spots is to monitor your lawn through every season to ensure it’s getting the nutrients and vital resources to remain intact.

Ways to Fix Large Bare Spots on Your Lawn

Address the Underlying Problems

Patching and repairing bare spots in your lawn is easy when you have the right tools and know-how to do the job right. However, this may only serve as a temporary fix unless you address underlying lawn issues. For example, if foot traffic constantly creates compacted soil that doesn’t allow oxygen or vital nutrients to penetrate root systems, you’ll continue to have problems with growth and patchy areas. You must pinpoint your lawn’s problems to design a strategy that will yield long-term results.

Prep the Area for Patching

Before you begin patching bare spots in your lawn, you must prep the area first. Start by mowing 1 to 1.5 inches down to expose the soil. If you’re unsure that healthy soil has been uncovered, grab a rake and rake the surface rigorously to unearth healthy topsoil. You may need to level the area after raking, so ensure you gently smooth out the soil. Don’t pack it down, or you could unintentionally create compacted soil. From there, you can choose the patching option that works best for your lawn.

Consider Your Patching Options

Before you start patching to your heart’s content, think about what method is best for your type of lawn and climate. Gettysburg is in hardiness zone 6b, which means most lawns in our area consist of cool-season grass and can be planted in early and late spring (February through May) and fall (September through November).

Using Sod to Patch


Sod is an effective and quick way to patch bare spots in your lawn. Still, depending on how much sod you’ll need for a complete patch job, it may be expensive.

To install sod, you’ll want to:

  • Cut out and dig a 1 1/2-inch-deep square or rectangular shape in your lawn where the bare spot resides.
  • Loosen the soil in the designated area to place the sod patch.
  • Add a nitrogen-potassium-phosphorus-rich fertilizer to create and maintain a strong root system.
  • Tamp down the soil gently 1/2 inch below the existing topsoil.
  • Install the sod patch and ensure it is level with your lawn.

Water twice a day for the first two weeks for about 10 minutes. The next week, decrease watering to once a day every day for 15 minutes. After a month, you should water your new sod on the same schedule as the rest of your lawn.

Using Grass Plugs


When sod or seeding isn’t a viable option for your needs, you can utilize grass plugs to repair bare spots in your lawn. You can also use grass plugs to test how your grass may fair in shaded areas. The caveat with grass plugs is that they do better in warmer weather. You’ll want to plant grass plugs in spring to ensure strong roots before summer and winter begin.

To install grass plugs, you’ll want to:

  • Clear away existing turf and weeds. If you neglect this step, weeds could take over and invade new plugs.
  • Apply a herbicide product 10 to 14 days before implanting the grass plugs. Ensure the grass is completely dead before installing.
  • Drill holes 4 to 5 inches deep using an auger drill or garden trowel, but water the soil first to dampen the area.
  • Use a nutrient-rich fertilizer before planting.
  • Place the plug in the pre-drilled or dug hole. Firmly pack down the soil, leaving zero space around the edges.

Water once a day in the early evening at dusk to ensure water doesn’t evaporate too quickly. After about 10 days, you can reduce watering to 10 to 15 minutes every other day.

Using Seeds to Patch


Using seeds to repair bare spots in your lawn can be extremely effective when done correctly. Simply tossing seeds on patchy areas may not yield the desired results or need to revitalize that part of the lawn.

To install seeds, you’ll want to:

  • Remove the dead or damaged turf to create a space conducive to germination.
  • Fill the area with nutrient-rich fertilizer and topsoil and gently tamp it down so that it’s level with the rest of the lawn.
  • Rake the surface to ensure there are no clumps.
  • Apply a thin layer of seeds and rake the seeds into the topsoil.
  • Use grass clippings or peat moss to cover your seeds to retain moisture and protect them from birds or pests that love seeds.

Irrigation should be done twice a day in the early morning and late evening to avoid evaporation. Grass seeds usually take around 14 to 21 days to germinate, so you’ll want to continue watering twice a week until germination. Then, you can reduce watering to once a week.

Let Us Take the Guesswork Out of Lawn Care!

BUSINESS is your local provider of lawn care and maintenance solutions. We help protect your investment, i.e., your lawn, and deliver comprehensive services that help you resolve various issues, including patchy areas.

We can offer expert guidance and cost-saving support that you won’t find with other landscaping companies in Gettysburg.

Call to request your free quote today!

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