How to repair grass that has been scorched by fertilizer.

In a previous guide, I wrote about how both inorganic and organic fertilizers can scorch your lawn. In this post, I am going to show you how to repair this grass and get it back to normal.

Firstly, let’s take a look at a patch of lawn that has been burnt by fertilizer:

grass that has been scorched by fertilizer

As you can see, this part of the lawn has been scorched. This “fertilizer burn” is caused by a build-up of nitrogen and soluble salts, which can cause the grass to dry out.

This usually happens when too much fertilizer is carelessly applied to one spot. As a result, we end up with ugly-looking brown patches of dead and burnt-out grass.

Water the patch. A LOT.

In a previous post, I wrote about how to fix brown patches on your lawn. Although this guide is pretty similar, there is one very important step that you should take when addressing fertilizer burn. And that is watering.

For about a week, you should soak the spot with water on a daily basis. Do it twice a day if you can.

Note that I used the word soak there. Don’t just spray a bit of water on it. Soak it.

The goal here is to flush as much fertilizer out of the soil as possible. Otherwise, any new grass that you plant may find the soil too inhospitable to grow in.

Will burnt grass bounce back after watering?

Sometimes, the grass can bounce back after enough watering.

However, if you are like me, then you probably just want to fix the issue as soon as possible. Furthermore, it can be difficult to figure out if a patch suffering from fertilizer burn will actually rebound or not.

My advice on this is simple. If a large part of your lawn has been scorched, then you should probably continue to water it and hope that it repairs itself. However, if it is a relatively small size, then you should probably just get to work on repairing the spot and replanting some new grass seed.

Either way, you still need to soak the patch with water for a few days. This is because you will need to flush the fertilizer out of the soil before you plant anything.

Rake out the dead grass.

Once you have watered the patch for a week or so, you should rake out the dead and damaged grass:

Rake out the dead grass

A ball of dead grass that I raked out.

In my case, I used a manual scarifier to rip out the dead grass. However, a regular lawn rake will also do the trick. Just make sure that you rake the patch from multiple angles and get as much of it up as possible.

We don’t want the dead thatch to interfere with our new seed.

Put down a layer of new soil.

Although you don’t necessarily need to put down new soil, it does speed up the repair process and make it much easier for your new grass seed to gain a footing.

In my experience, a thin layer of new nutrient-rich soil can work wonders when you are carrying out patch repairs on your lawn.

new soil

I added some nutrient-rich soil to the patch in question.

You don’t need to add much. Just enough for the new grass seed to bond with. In my case, I used Nutrient Rich Garden Soil by Westland. However, most top soils will do the trick.

Once you have thrown some soil down onto your patch, you should use the back of your rake to spread it out and make it relatively level.

Don’t worry too much about getting it perfect, however, as the soil will break down and level out after some rainfall.

Add your grass seed.

Now is the time to sprinkle some new grass seed onto the patch in question:

New grass seed

The patch after I sprinkled some new grass seed onto it.

Once you have thrown down your grass seed, you should stand on it so that it makes proper contact with the soil.

If you followed my advice about adding a new layer of top soil, then this won’t be as important, as the seed typically sinks into the fresh soil after a watering.

Sprinkle some more soil over the seed and then water it.

Using your hands, you should sprinkle another fine layer of soil over the seed. This helps to hide the seed from birds. It can also protect it from heavy rainfall.

You don’t need to cover all of the seed. Just enough to obscure it a little. Plus, if you add too much, the new grass might find it difficult to grow out of the soil and receive sunlight.

Once you’ve sprinkled a thin layer of soil over your new grass seed, you should water it.

However, you should be careful about how you water the seed. Pointing a hose at it or pouring a bucket of water over it will just displace the seed.

Instead, you should use a watering can with a rose on the end or a hose head that has proper spray settings.

And that’s it! Continue to lightly water your patch on a daily basis, and within a couple of weeks, your burnt-out patch should have repaired itself.

Here is a photograph of my patch after just 14 days:

Fix fertilizer burn on a lawn.

The new grass has already grown and started to fill out.

As you can see, the new layer of soil that I added really helped. I was also lucky because we received a steady amount of rainfall over the period.