Watering the lawn improves the health of the grass.

How to Re-Establish a Lawn Gone Bad

by Shelley Frost

You look over your lawn expecting to see rolling green grass only to discover bare patches or clumps of yellow grass. Most grass problems don't happen overnight, but you may not notice the problem until it is too late. Common sources of lawn problems include insects, disease, drought and lack of care. Figuring out the cause of the problem and making the necessary fixes helps you reestablish a green lawn before your neighbors start to complain.

Inspect the lawn to determine the extent of the damage. If the grass is dying in several areas or is too weak, removing all of the grass and starting from scratch is often easiest. If you only have minor damage or small patches of missing grass, you can replace those areas.

Look for clues to diagnose why your lawn is growing poorly, such as visible insects or lots of weeds. If you have a dog, small dying patches of grass may be from the pet's urine. Larger dead areas are often the result of a lawn disease, which can get worse if you don't take care of the lawn properly. Widespread drying of the grass is a possibility if the grass doesn't get enough water. Soil that gets compacted due to foot traffic can also damage the grass. Addressing the cause of the problem helps correct the poor grass growth and prevent future problems.

Dig out weeds from the root if you have a minor weed problem. For large patches of weeds, a glyphosate herbicide is a fast way to remove them. The herbicide will also kill any grass that it touches, so apply it carefully if you're planning to remove all of the grass.

Aerate the lawn if soil compaction is a problem. Rent an aerator from a local hardware store to make the task easier. The aerator helps loosen the soil so grass is able to grow better.

Remove a thick layer of thatch with a power rake. The tool removes the thick mat of dead grass and other debris that can harbor pests that damage the grass.

Lay patches of sod in any bare areas of the grass if the remaining lawn is still healthy. Cut the sod to fit the bare spot.

Irrigate the lawn as needed during periods without rain when the lawn shows signs of drying. One indicator is footprints in the grass that don't disappear an hour later, according to the Colorado State University Extension. Water the grass until the soil is moist deep down into the grass roots. A soil probe or a small hole dug into the soil helps determine how deep the water reaches.

Mow the lawn frequently enough so you only need to cut off one-third of the grass length. Cutting more is hard on the grass and may put stress on the lawn.

Overseed the lawn if the grass is thin but doesn't have any other problems. Use a seed spreader to distribute the grass seed evenly over the lawn.

Items you will need

  • Glyphosate herbicide
  • Lawn aerator
  • Sod
  • Mower
  • Seed spreader
  • Grass seed

About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.

Photo Credits

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