How to Fill in Bare or Patchy Spots
Patching your lawn may seem like a big undertaking, especially if you remember what it was like setting up your lawn in the first place. But you can get it done in a few simple steps. First, choose whether you want to use seed or sod.
In either case, make sure to select a grass type that will thrive in your region and the specific conditions of your yard. If you have large trees that cast a lot of shade, you want to purchase a shade-resistant grass that doesn’t need too much sunlight.
How to patch a lawn with seed
Mow the existing grass in the area down as low as you can. You’ll want your seeds to have direct contact with the bare, exposed soil. Dig a border using a sharp spade and get rid of any debris or weeds in the delineated area. Rake up the soil, then leave it level and smooth.
Distribute the seed with a spreader, using the appropriate amount for the designated space. Spread the seed so that it covers the surface, but don’t let seeds overlap with one another. For uniformity, spread half the seed in an east/west pattern and half the seed north/south.
Rake over the seed for even distribution. Then, cover the top with a thin layer, about ½ an inch, of straw or topsoil to keep the seeds moist and protect them from birds.
For the first week or two, you’ll need to water your lawn daily or twice a day to make sure the soil is moist, but not soggy. Once the seedings begin to emerge, you can dial back the irrigation to two deep, infrequent waterings totaling 1-1.5 inches per week.
Do not mow until the grass reaches a height of about 3-3.5 inches. Then, be sure to cut no more than the top ⅓ of the grass blade to encourage drought resistance and deep root growth, and discourage weeds.
It may take up to eight weeks, depending on the grass type you selected, for the new grass to blend in fully with the rest of your lawn. If you need to mow the rest of your lawn before then, be careful to avoid the newly seeded grass.
Patching with sod
This method yields instant gratification, because patching with sod is introducing new, grown, lush grass. It’s particularly convenient if you have multiple bare spots, and don’t want to overseed again and again. Keep in mind that sod costs significantly more than seed.
Start by cutting a patch of the sod from a roll, slightly larger than the bare spot you wish to cover so that it extends past the borders about 2-3 inches on all sides. Make sure the sod stays moist as you prepare it.
Dig into the area you want to cover about 1-1.5 inches down so that the new sod will be level with the rest of the lawn, removing all the brown grass, including the roots. Use a rake to loosen the soil and even out the area,
Put the patch of sod over the bare spot you want to cover. Press it firmly into the soil, and make sure its edges are snug against the lawn around it. You can walk across it to make sure it settles in well. Water the sod daily for two weeks, unless the forecast shows heavy rain—if it does, adjust the irrigation accordingly.