Late summer and early fall are the most ideal times of year to tend to your problematic lawn. During these times, soil temperature rises and seeds are allowed to germinate much quicker than they normally would. On top of that, new grass doesn't have to compete with troublesome weeds during the summer and can grow more freely than it could in the spring. Of course, that's not to say you can’t start improving your patchy lawn before the summer arrives. Here’s what you'll need to know to get it looking better than ever:
Evaluate Your Lawn
You should begin by taking the time to thoroughly assess the damage. Some grass, like Kentucky bluegrass, will turn brown and become dormant in times of drought, though it may seem dead or damaged at first glance. A few showers should turn dormant grass green, so be sure to test this on your own lawn before taking further action. If your lawn doesn't return to its lush, green color after a few attempts at watering, it's likely that the roots are damaged beyond repair. In that case, you'll want to reseed.
Reseed Your Lawn
To reseed your lawn, you must first remove all the dead grass. Once these patches have been cleared away, rake up and expose the dirt underneath. This brings soil to the surface and provides the seeds with essential nutrients for growth. You can now distribute the seeds over the bare patches. It's a good idea to invest in a rotary or a drop spreader to do this for you, as they tend to scatter seeds very evenly. Once everything has been planted, you'll have to keep the areas that you’ve reseeded moist. It can also be helpful to put some straw over these areas to prevent hungry birds from swooping your seeds up.
Fertilize Your New Seeds
To get your new grass off to a strong start, you’ll want to use a fertilizer that has a high phosphorus content. Bear in mind that you should always be careful and follow the instructions on the package when handling fertilizer—any that gets on paved surfaces should quickly be swept back onto the grass. Be sure to water your lawn immediately after applying fertilizer to get it working for the seeds, but don’t over-water. The resulting runoff could result in algae bloom and contaminate nearby water sources. Even small amounts of fertilizer can create a problem if you aren't careful.
Over the summer, you’ll have to be diligent about lawn care to promote seed growth. Raising the setting on your mower can help avoid cutting too close to the ground and make sure your lawn yields lush, thick grass. You should always use a freshly sharpened blade when mowing your lawn as well.
You can also use grass clippings as mulch, and in doing so, can return some nitrogen to the soil. Lastly, you'll need to give your lawn about an inch of water every week. If you live in an area where you’re unable to water as much as you’d like, you should consider planting drought-resistant grass varieties—some popular ones include St. Augustine, Buffalo, and Zoysia.
Reviving a dead lawn might seem like a daunting task, but it's completely achievable. You just need a little patience and a commitment to making germination easy for your seeds. It won’t be long before those brown, patchy spots become distant memories, and your grass is restored to its peak condition.