11 Ways to Bring a Damaged Lawn Back to Life

by Team HomeServe
"A walk-behind broadcast spreader is applying fertilizer to grass. Focus is on the lower wheel area, the grass is slightly soft. With the brown grass and dried leaves, this would make a good pre-emergent weed prevention or fall winterizer concepts."

Dead grass, brown spots and other types of damage greatly diminish the appearance and health of your lawn. Regardless of whether the source of the damage is due to the climate, pests or family pets, it can be frustrating to deal with patches of brown grass.

Before turning to a professional lawn care service, you might want to consider some remedies that you can apply yourself.

How to Fix Dead Patches and Brown Spots in Your Lawn

There are a variety of factors that may contribute to your lawn’s poor health. Lawn damage can be the result of extreme weather conditions, a pest problem, poor aeration, dog urine or salt accumulation. The following tips can help you address some of the most common problems.

1. Treat Salt-Damaged Grass

Salt damage occurs when melting snow and ice deposits salt across your lawn in the spring. One of the ways you can prevent salt damage is to construct barriers near the street to limit how much salt is thrown onto your lawn. If you notice discoloration near your driveway and the street, treat it as soon as you discover the problem by using a hose to spray the salt off your lawn. Follow this up with a soil conditioner made from gypsum.

2. Deal With Pests

Rodent activity is easy to spot. Mix four tablespoons of castor oil per gallon of water to create a lawn treatment that repels moles, voles and gophers. You may also be able to purchase traps and ultrasonic devices that either kill the pests directly or irritate them enough to keep them from making a home on your property. Don’t repair your lawn until you know the pests are gone and not returning.

After you’ve removed the pests, assess the damage. If there are only small patches to repair, you may be able to get away with seeding and aerating your lawn (see below). However, if a significant portion of your lawn has been torn up by these pests, then you may need to seek professional advice.

3. Aerate Your Lawn

Aerating and irrigating your lawn routinely helps it soak up the nutrients in the soil. This makes the grass more resilient against dog urine and extreme temperatures. There are manual and mechanical aerators available at your local lawn care store that can get the job done. If you have dogs that roam your yard, consider aerating and watering your lawn more frequently to keep the urine from damaging the grass.

4. Seed Your Lawn

If you notice dead grass, you can repair many of the brown patches through a process called overseeding. Select a type of grass that is suitable for your climate and matches your lawn, and tackle the dead spots first by filling them in with seed and some topsoil. Then seed your entire lawn using a spreader. The best times for overseeding are in the spring and fall, when temperatures are moderate.

5. Fertilize Your Lawn

There are several types of fertilizer that you can choose from. Liquid fertilizers are applied by attaching the bottle to your hose and spraying it evenly over the grass. You can get fertilizer pellets that you spread over your lawn using a spreader. If you’re overseeding, you should apply the seed and fertilizer and then rake them both into the soil to help them take root faster.

6. Water Your Lawn

You don’t want to overwater your lawn, but you also want to make sure you’re giving it ample water to grow and thrive. Check the manufacturer recommendations listed on the seed you buy to see how much watering you should be doing. Each type of grass has different care instructions. Remember that you may need to water your lawn more frequently during the summer to keep your grass from drying out and yellowing under the sun.

7. Remove Weeds

If you have a minor weed problem, you should pull the weeds as soon as you notice to prevent them from reproducing. You can find weed killers at your local hardware store to handle larger weed problems, but if you’re having difficulty keeping dandelions, crabgrass and other types of weed at bay, you may need to consider hiring a service to treat your lawn.

8. Use Soil Activator

Soil activator is a product you can spread over your lawn about two weeks after you’ve put down new seed. It helps the seed maintain moisture and keeps the soil from running off so that your new seed takes root. Make sure that you complete repairs of your lawn before taking this final step if you want to see the best results.

9. Sod Your Lawn

If the lawn damage is too extensive, you can consider sodding your lawn for a fresh start. The cost of sodding depends on whether you want to hire someone to install the sod for you or make it a DIY project. You can save a lot of money by sodding yourself. In some cases, you’re able to save up to 70% if you have the time and patience to put the sod down by yourself.  

10. Add Mulch to Your Landscaping

Mulching is a great way to improve the appearance of your lawn, reduce the spread of weeds and add valuable nutrients to your lawn.

11. Mow Your Lawn

If you mow your lawn with the mulch moving plate on, you deposit nutrients back into the soil, which keeps your lawn healthy and vibrant. You shouldn’t mow your lawn any shorter than 2 inches (5 centimeters) high, as this can damage the grass and cause die-off.


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