This is a DIY guide on how to repair brown patches on your lawn. In this guide, I will show you how to rip up the old thatch that is hogging the soil and then reseed.
Lawn patches can appear for a number of different reasons. Examples include bad weather, tough soil and general wear and tear from children and pets.
Generally speaking, lawn patches are inevitable unless you are a professional gardener or somebody who has hours to spare. Most people do not have the time to be tending to their grass on a regular basis. As a result, these fixes are often necessary on a yearly basis.
Note that you should always cut your lawn before fixing up patches. If you fail to do this, the surrounding grass may tower above the patch and prevent your new seed from receiving any sun. That, or the grass around it will grow so long that you will feel forced to cut it.
Example of a lawn patch.
Below is a picture of a patch of lawn that is essentially dead:
As you can see, there is very little coverage in this area and the soil has hardened. There is also a small bit of dead grass and moss on it. As a result, simply tossing new grass seed onto this patch will probably be a complete waste of time.
We need to prepare the soil first.
A lot of people tend to make this mistake. They toss seed onto a patch of compacted soil and hope for the best. In the end, their grass seed ends up dying and they have to start all over again. Furthermore, they end up having to spend even more money on seed or grass repair kits and whatnot.
Don’t waste your time. “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”, as the saying goes.
Step 1. Remove any dying grass, thatch or weeds.
This is one of the most important steps in repairing a lawn patch. Firstly, you will need to rake away any dead grass so that the soil is fully exposed. If you fail to do this, the dead grass may prevent sunlight from reaching your seed. You will also need to break up the soil so that it is relatively soft:
As you can see in the photograph above, I’ve used a weed fork to rake away the dead grass. I have also broken up the soil and removed any large stones.
Warning: Breaking up the soil is an absolute must. In certain cases, the soil will be too tough and compacted for new grass to take hold and properly establish itself. If you fail to do this, you might find that your new grass grows at first, but then thins out or dies after a month or two. This happens when the roots find it too difficult to break through the soil. Consequently, simply laying down a new layer of top soil is not good enough. You must break up the soil beneath.
Tip: At this stage, you might want to get a pitch fork and create a few holes in the patch. Push the pitch fork down as far as it can go. This can help to improve drainage in that area, as soil can become compacted over time.
Yes, the patch looks worse than it was before. However, it will have to look worse before it can look any better.
Step 2. Pour some top soil onto the patch.
Now, we need to pour some top soil onto our patch. I used a product called Nutrient Rich Garden Soil by Westland, which I purchased in Woodies:
The purpose of this soil is to give our grass seed the best start that it can possibly have. The current layer of soil might not have enough nutrients in it for our new patch of grass to flourish. However, we can give it a little helping hand by adding some fresh nutrient-rich soil on top.
Place some top soil onto the patch in question:
You do not need to add too much soil, just enough to cover the spot.
Step 3. Sprinkle a layer of new grass seed.
For my new seed, I used a product called Smart Patch by Westland. However, it shouldn’t really matter which grass seed you use to repair the patch as long as you prepare the soil beforehand.
Sprinkle your grass seed evenly and gently on top of the new soil:
Although you should try to get even coverage of seed across your patch, there is no need to obsess over it. You do not need to get it 100% perfect. It is very unlikely that you will notice a missed inch or two once the new layer of grass has grown.
Step 4. Sprinkle a bit of top soil on top of the new grass seed.
At this stage, you should gently sprinkle another thin layer of soil on top of your lawn patch. Preferably, you should do this by hand so that you’re not heaping too much onto one spot.
This thin layer of soil will help to protect the grass seed from birds. It will also help to prevent windy weather and rain from moving your seed about.
Step 5. Sprinkle another small bit of grass seed on the patch.
To help ensure that your new grass will grow and repair the lawn patch in question, you can sprinkle on another fine layer of seed:
As you can see, between the bottom layer and the top layer, we’ve pretty much got full coverage here.
Step 6. Gently water the patch.
Finally, you will need to water the patch in question. Be warned however that you should not directly point a hose at the patch or pour a bucket of water over it. The goal here is to water the new seed without displacing it. In my case, I used a watering can with a rose on the end of it so that the water sprinkled onto the new seed instead of directly pouring onto it:
To grow grass seed, you only really need to keep the top layer of soil moist. This means that you will need to water your new grass seed twice per day. Preferably, once in the morning and once early in the evening (providing that it hasn’t already rained that day).
When can I mow the lawn after fixing a patch?
After consistently watering your lawn patch for a week or two, you might begin to notice that the grass around your patch has started to grow and tower above it. This can become an issue if the surrounding grass is so high that it is beginning to block the sun from reaching your patch, thereby preventing photosynthesis. If this is the case, then you can mow the lawn on the highest setting possible. i.e. Raise the blades up so that they unable to reach the patch.
In the photograph above, the surrounding grass has started to cover over our patch. No doubt, it has been benefiting from our daily watering!
As a result, we will probably have to mow the lawn on a high setting so that our new grass shoots can receive sunlight. In certain cases, you might want to manually cut around this area with some grass shears.
How long will it take for the new seed grow on my patch?
The speed at which your new grass seed will germinate depends on a number of different factors, such as:
- The species of grass that you have planted.
- The amount of moisture the patch has been receiving.
- Other weather-related factors such as sunlight and soil temperature.
However, typically speaking, it will take between 5 to 18 days before you begin to see some green shoots:
The picture above was taken 11 days after I originally fixed the brown patch that you saw at the top of this guide. As you can see, a few green shoots had started to appear. I planted these seeds during summer and it didn’t rain for nearly a week afterwards. It was also quite warm for the first five days. As a result, I had to manually water the patch in the morning and late afternoon.
After 14 days.
After 14 days and some rainfall, the new grass started to fill out:
By the 20 day mark, the patch had pretty much filled out:
As you can see, by day 20, our brown patch was fixed and the new grass was starting to blend in with the rest of the lawn.
And that’s it! Now all you will need to do is water the area and have some patience. Within a couple of weeks, your new grass seed should grow and your ugly lawn patch will become a thing of the past. Hopefully, you found this guide to be informative.