How to Do Basic Lawn Repair

What You'll Need
Top soil
Grass seed

Don't be frustrated by a lawn that's patchy, full of weeds, or overgrown. You may be amazed at what a few basic lawn repairs can do to the aesthetic appeal of your property, and you can make major headway in a short amount of time. Aside from affecting the general appearance, the condition of your lawn can also be a significant factor in determining the resale value of your home if you are thinking about putting it on the market sometime soon.

While the process of growing new grass requires a little patience as Mother Nature does her work, the actual time you put in on physical labor will be minimal.

Step 1 - Clear the Weeds

The first thing you need to do is get rid of everything that isn’t supposed to be there. This means any dandelions, thistle, or unsightly clusters of weeds. There are several ways to go about this, but the best way is still with a small hand shovel. Some folks also find that a long, flat-headed screwdriver works well. Don’t just tear the weeds off at the surface level. You need to get the entire plant, roots and all, out of the ground. A common mistake is to pull up the weeds and then just leave them lying on the ground to chop up with the lawn mower. This is actually counter productive. When you leave the dying weeds on your lawn or chop them up, you release all of their seeds right back into your lawn. Next year you'll have to repeat the process. When you pull the weeds, place them right into garbage or a lawn refuse bag.

Step 2 - Prep for Seeds

Once all of the weeds are out of the ground, you need to tend to the bare spots. Before you plant new grass seed, make sure the soil on these spots is ready and able to grow things. If the ground is very rocky or hard, the seeds will likely wash away before they have a chance to take root. If the ground isn’t ready for seed, buy some topsoil to spread over these areas. You can buy bags of topsoil at your local landscaping or home improvement store. These bags are ideal if you have a few small areas. If you have larger areas of ground to cover, consider buying a truckload of dirt. Check with your landscaping supplier about companies that offer this service in your area.

Step 3 - Spread the Seed

There are several options available to you when you are ready to seed the repaired areas. The traditional way is to buy a bag of grass seed and spread it by hand. Then, spread straw over the seeded areas. There are several reasons for doing this. First, the straw keeps the newly sewn seed from washing away when it rains and when you water it. Second, it helps hide your new grass seed from the birds, who will view your lawn patches as a free lunch. Third, the straw keeps the soil and seed moist, for good seed germination.

TIP: Our expert gardening advisor, Karen Thurber suggests, "When purchasing seed, be sure to check the bag and find the seed analysis. This will tell you what is in the bag. It will be broken down into these categories; pure seed, other crop seed, weed seed. and other inert matter. It will list the varieties of grass seed that are included. Be sure you are getting a quality seed with low to no weed seed, in a variety that will grow well in your area."

Step 4 - Apply a Grass Seed Pad

Another option that has become available in recent years is a little more expensive, but slightly lower maintenance. You can buy a roll that looks just like carpet pad. In this roll is grass seed, nutrients, and a bonding agent that holds everything down. Simply roll this pad over the bare areas and water it according to the instructions. As the pad disintegrates over time, grass grows underneath it. These work surprisingly well and many folks find the few extra dollars to be well worth it.

Step 5 - Don't Mow, Water

Proper follow up is the most critical aspect of your yard improvement project. Make sure that your new grass gets plenty of water and that you don’t get to anxious about cutting it. Mowing your new grass too soon can uproot the tender new shoots. If the grass is in direct sunlight, cutting it to soon can also cause the grass to burn.

Step 6 - Maintain

After your new grass has had the time to grow and become a viable part of your yard, begin a lawn maintenance program. Many manufacturers sell seasonal treatments that help your yard stay green, lush, and weed free. Applications for each season not only ensure that your lawn looks good this year, but that it will continue to look better each year. This is a minimal investment to make and the applications usually only take a few minutes of your time once every 3 months. A good lawn program means you won’t have to spend time pulling weeds and re-seeding every spring.

Step 7 - Apply Sod

Of course, sometimes homeowners need a new lawn immediately. Whether you are hosting a backyard party or if your house is going up for sale unexpectedly, you may not have the time to nurture a yard back to health the old-fashioned way. In these cases, sod is your best bet. Rolls of sod can be purchased at most landscaping supply stores throughout the summer. The most important thing to remember when laying down rolls of sod is water, water, water. This is a quick way to solve your lawn problems, but it is also fairly expensive, so you’ll want to make sure that you take care of your investment.