Grass & Grass Seed
How to Repair a Lawn & Seed Bare Patches
Water's only part of what you need to fix those dead spots in your lawn and keep them from coming back.
Bald. Bare. Thin. Whatever you call it, one thing is certain: Patchy lawns stink. Until automatic, self-repairing lawns are invented, we've got the next best thing — quick and easy bare spot repair. Read on for the simple how-to, plus a few extras for keeping your lawn looking lush even longer.
Quick Guide to Lawn Repair
- Patch your lawn. Repair thin or bare spots with Scotts® EZ Seed® Patch & Repair. Rake to loosen the soil, apply EZ Seed®, then water. Exception: If you have a St. Augustine lawn, it’s best to pull up dead turf or edge out bare spots. Apply Scotts® EZ Patch™ Lawn Repair for St. Augustine Lawns then place new sod or plugs.
- Water well. New seed and sod require more frequent watering. Keep your soil moist, but don’t drown it.
- Feed your lawn. After 6 to 8 weeks, give your new grass the nutrients it needs to grow lush and strong. Feed your entire lawn with Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Food.
- Kill weeds and pests. Bugs and weeds will try to creep into your lawn while it grows. Before you apply any weed or bug control product, check the product label to see when it can be applied to new grass.
- Mow later. Be sure to wait until your lawn is at mowing height (3½ to 4 inches) before you mow.
How to Repair and Seed Your Lawn
1. Fill In Bare Spots
Most of us know that simply hoping bare spots will fill in on their own is futile. Did you also know that watering those bare spots and doing nothing else won't work either? You also need top-notch grass seed like Scotts® EZ Seed® Patch & Repair. Guaranteed to grow grass anywhere (with proper care), EZ Seed® features a unique combination of Scotts® high-performance seed, premium continuous-release lawn food, and super-absorbent growing material that helps keep the seed from drying out. Simply rake the ground to remove debris and loosen soil, apply EZ Seed® and water in.
Exception: Replace Sod (for St. Augustine lawns).
There is one exception. If you have a St. Augustine lawn, you'll want to sod or plug your bare spots instead of seeding them. First, purchase a few pieces of sod or enough plugs to cover your bare spots from your local garden center. Next, prepare the area by applying Scotts® EZ Patch™ Lawn Repair for St. Augustine Lawns, a ready-to-use mulch and fertilizer that is specially formulated for establishing St. Augustine grass. Lay the sod pieces directly on top of the prepared soil and tamp down gently with your foot, or plant plugs in a checkerboard pattern, spaced 12 inches apart. Be sure to water thoroughly after planting.
2. Water Well
Lightly water the newly seeded, sodded, or plugged areas daily (or as needed, depending on the weather) for at least 2 weeks to keep the top inch of soil consistently moist but not soggy. Once the grass seedlings develop and start to fill in, gradually increase the amount of water the lawn receives so the top two inches of soil is kept moist. After the grass reaches mowing height, it’s best to water deeply once or twice a week to encourage the grass roots to grow deep in the soil. A good, thorough soaking rather than a quick watering will ensure that the water gets down to the root system, helping roots grow strong and deep for a thick, more drought-resistant lawn.
3. Follow with Food
Tender seedlings, as well as existing grass, need nutrients to help them grow thick and strong. After 6 to 8 weeks, feed your entire lawn with Scotts® Turf Builder® Lawn Food, then continue to feed your lawn regularly, every 6 to 8 weeks during the growing season. This will provide a steady supply of nutrients to encourage the kind of grass growth that will crowd out weeds and withstand the stresses of heat, drought, and normal wear-and-tear.
The easiest way to feed your lawn is with a spreader. It helps you distribute fertilizer evenly so you don’t have to worry about applying too much or too little. To make feeding your lawn even easier, we include the recommended spreader settings on the back of every Scotts® fertilizer product.
Don’t have a spreader yet? Here’s how to choose the right spreader for lawn feeding success.
Small lawns: 1,500 ft2 or less
Scotts® Whirl™ Hand-Powered Spreader
Medium lawns: 5,000 ft2 or less
Scotts® Turf Builder® Edgeguard® Mini Broadcast Spreader
Large lawns: 15,000 ft2 or less
Scotts® Turf Builder® Edgeguard® DLX Broadcast Spreader
Extra-large lawns 20,000 ft2 or less
Scotts® Elite Spreader
Knowing your lawn size is an important step for any DIY lawn care routine. That’s why we made it super easy by adding a measuring tool inside the Scotts® MyLawn App. There’s no walking or calculating required, just tap the points around the aerial view of your home and get the square footage instantly.
4. Kill Weeds and Pests
It’s important to keep bugs and weeds from ruining your new lawn. Most products containing a weed control, like Scotts® Turf Builder® Weed & Feed3, can’t be used on new grass until it has been mowed 3 or 4 times. (Learn more about killing lawn weeds here.) Most products labeled for insect control can be applied any time on newly planted grass. Scotts® Turf Builder® SummerGuard® Lawn Food with Insect Control is a good option, as it not only feeds the lawn but also kills listed bugs. Remember to always read and follow the label directions before applying any kind of product to your lawn.
5. Watch for Grubs
It's easier to control grubs in the spring before they hatch, or in early summer when they’re small and haven’t yet caused a lot of damage to your lawn. Preventative grub control products like Scotts® GrubEx®1 are meant to be applied to your lawn before or just as the grubs hatch in the spring or early summer. One application of Scotts® GrubEx®1 can kill and prevent grubs for up to 4 months.
6. Wait Before Mowing
Both new grass seedlings and sod need time to grow, so wait until they’ve reached mowing height (generally 3½ to 4 inches) before cutting them for the first time. After that, go ahead and resume your usual lawn cutting regime. Just keep in mind that mowing your grass a little higher will help it crowd out weeds.