An approachable guide to basic lawn care. Highlights some of the easiest and most widely applicable fixes for thin or damaged grass. The article also provides a few tips on how to keep your lawn looking fresh long after the repairs.
Every winter, your lawn takes a beating. As summer approaches and warm temperatures return, some issues seem to resolve themselves. However, you may be wondering how to tackle the persisting problems. Here are six ways to repair a damaged lawn:
1. Thin or Bare Patches
Bare patches in your lawn can be caused by a number of things, including poor drainage, low sunlight, pet urine, oil spillage, excess fertilizer, and weed removal. However, some persistent lawn problems can be attributed to poor soil content. You can test the composition of your soil by picking up a DIY kit at your local lawn and garden center. Sometimes, the fix can be as easy as mixing limestone into highly acidic soil or mixing sulfur into alkaline soil.
Additionally, some patches are the result of simple wear and tear. To help take some of the stress of of the grass in a high-traffic area, consider adding stepping-stones or gravel.
After you have determined the cause of the patches and have done your best to remedy the situation, you'll want to reseed any left-over bare areas.
Dandelions, thistles, and other weeds can become an unsightly part of your lawn almost overnight, especially around this time of year. The most effective way to remove these pesky weeds is to dig them out by hand. Use a small hand-shovel or a flat-headed screwdriver to remove the entire plant, roots and all, from the ground. Make sure to toss all pulled weeds in a refuse bag as you go to prevent them from reseeding.
3. Lack of Sunlight
If tree branches or roof overhangs are preventing a section your lawn from getting enough sun, you should consider reseeding that area with a shade-tolerant grass blend. Alternatively, you can place shade-tolerant plants, such as sweet woodruff and bishop’s hat, in sun-deprived spots.
Grubs are white, C-shaped larvae that eat grass roots and create spots of wilting turf. Grubs also attract moles and raccoons—scavengers that can damage your lawn even more by digging for food. Contact your county extension service to determine the best treatment option for your lawn.
5. Small Bumps or Hollows
Repeated close mowing can cause bumps and hollows to appear on the greenest of lawns. To diminish the size of a small bump, try pricking it with an aerator. Repeat this process every few weeks until the bump has flattened and become flush with the rest of your lawn. To raise hollows and depressions in your lawn, pour a thin layer (about half an inch) of a half-soil, half-sand mixture over any problem spots and thoroughly brush it in. Repeat every few weeks.
6. Damaged Edges
Edges can be easily damaged by overhanging plants and overzealous landscaping. To repair them, use a spade to cut small, rectangular patches out of the lawn's perimeter. Gently lift them out and flip them over. The undersides of these patches will grow healthy grass and eventually form the new outer edges of your lawn. Be sure to remove all the dead roots and bare soil before replanting them. Fill in any remaining holes with a half-soil, half-sand mixture, firm these areas down, and reseed the bare spots.
Additional Lawn Care Tips
Lawn maintenance is just as important as all of the work you do in your garden. Keep your lawn watered. An established lawn needs about an inch of water a week during the growing season. Instead of light, daily watering, try watering the grass deeply once a week in the early morning. At this time, evaporation rates are low enough for the grass to retain most of the moisture. Most grass varieties can actually go a month without any water.
Practice proper mowing maintenance, too. Dull mower blades put your lawn at risk of disease, so sharpen your mower blades around three times during the growing season. Also, grass clippings are a free source of fertilizer, so be sure to let healthy grass fall back onto your lawn as you mow.
Try your hand at composting as well. It has the potential to remove several pests and diseases from your lawn. A a quarter-inch layer of compost on your lawn once or twice a year, after aerating your soil, should be as much as you need.
If your lawn is still recovering from a long winter, do not despair. Commit to proper lawn care and your grass will be looking lush and green again in no time.