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Got bare spots in your lawn? Get out and weed your garden. Save all the grass and transplant it in the lawn. Just scratch up the soil in the spot, put the grass in and water it. It fills in quickly and costs nothing.
By Jennifer from Butternuts, NY
Sooner or later, even the healthiest and most well-maintained lawn will probably need some minor repairs. Whether it's caused by insects, disease, over-use, or just a bout of bad weather, if your lawn is suffering from thin spots and bare patches, spot seeding is a great way to repair and re-establish grass in small areas.
Early fall is often thought of as the preferred time for planting grass seed, because the conditions are best for getting grass off to a good start (warm soil, ample moisture, and fewer sprouting weeds). The best time to spot seed your lawn, however, is anytime your schedule (and the weather) allows you to. Just keep in mind that in extremely hot weather you'll need to really keep an eye on watering so the seed stays moist during germination. In the early spring, cool soil temperatures may delay germination and the soil may be too wet to be easily worked.
Patching works best in areas where the grass has completely died back. Use this technique to repair tire ruts along driveways, areas worn down by foot traffic or damaged by pets, or spots that have become bare as a results of insects or disease.
Prepare the seed bed. Use a shovel to strip the area of any existing grass and weeds. If necessary, add organic matter and a few inches of weed-free topsoil to bring the bare spot up to the level of the surrounding soil. Create a good seed bed by raking the soil until it's smooth and level.
Apply the seed. Use a seed type that is as close as possible to your existing grass. Sow the seeds thickly. This can be done using a drop spreader or by scattering the seed by hand. When you're done, most of the soil that was visible when you started should be covered by seeds. Remember, not all of the seeds will germinate so don't be afraid to lean toward excess. To help the new grass blend in better with your existing grass, scatter some extra seed beyond the perimeter of the area you're trying to improve.
Tamp and top-dress. To ensure good seed-to-soil contact, work the seeds into the soil by gently dragging a rake (tines inverted) across the top of the soil, tamping it lightly with your hand. Be careful not to compact the soil. Cover the seeds with a thin (1/4 inch) layer of topsoil or fine compost.
Water thoroughly. Dampen seeds daily until they germinate-twice daily during periods of extreme heat. After germination, your new grass should be given the equivalent of 1-inch of water per week. Water deeply rather than frequently to help establish deep roots. After about 6 weeks, you should be able to treat the area like an established lawn.
Overseeding is a technique that works best in areas where your lawn appears thin. Unlike patching, you won't be broadcasting the seed onto bare soil so this technique doesn't work well on lawns that contain heavy amounts of thatch.
Start by pulling out any existing weeds. To make sure the seeds come into contact with the soil, mow the existing grass as close to the ground as possible. Scratch up the surface of the bare soil with a metal garden rake, being careful not to cause damage to your existing grass. Apply seed (at the same rate recommended for new lawns), tamp lightly, and cover the seeds with a thin layer (1/4 inch) of fine compost or top soil. Water thoroughly and continue to keep the soil evenly moist until germination.
Allow new grass to grow to at least 1/3 taller than its normal height before mowing it for the first time. For most grass types, this translates to a height of at least 2 1/2 to 3 inches tall. The roots of young grasses are shallow and the blades soft and easily torn, so use sharp mower blades and be extra careful the first few times you mow. If you have a mulch setting on your mower, "grasscycle" the clippings back onto the young grass. The clippings will act like a fertilizer while helping the soil retain moisture.
Reseeding bald spots in your lawn is easy to do and fall is the time to do it.
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Grass seed is too expensive, but I have bald spots in my lawn. What can I do that won't cost me any money?
Hardiness Zone: 8b
Dawn from Dunwoody, GA
How about cutting turf patches from the edge of your garden? Then replace the bald turf patches to the edge, or leave it open and plant flowers and plants taken from some wild area (woods, plains, what ever you have locally)
A good time to start a vegetable plot?
I suggest you dig up some of your lawn in the back yard, plant it in the bald spot, and keep damp. It should grow, good luck.
I don't know if this really works, but I am going to try it this spring. Lay some grass seed in the bare spot and lay used coffee grounds on top of it. the idea is the worms in the soil will come for the grass seed, leave their droppings is great fertilizer and when they go through the ground they aerate it.
Nursery centers do sell small amounts of grass seed. You might bring a swatch of your existing grass so that a knowlegeable person could make sure the seed might match it.
Dig into the soil and find out what might be the balding problem first. If there are no white fat grub worms eating the roots, watch for cinch bugs. Ordinary earthworms are a good sign. Pillbugs/ rolley pollies often get in grass, as do ants and termites. Tiny firey red ants are harmless, slow, and help the soil aeration.
If no sign of bugs of any kind, look at the blades of grass and the roots of the growing grass around it. It could be nematodes. Smell of the soil in the bare spot. If you smell mold, you may have to replace the soil there. If you smell gasoline or oil, you might have spilled it each time you refilled the mower over a time.
If the spots are perfectly round, you may have "fairy ring" mildew, and need to spray for that. If none of these things are your problem, simply plug each spot with a spade full of grass of the same size from a healthy spot, after hard raking the bald spot soil so the roots can attach themselves. Cover the edges of the plug with some soil, a piece of newspaper for three days, after wetting well, and weight each corner with heavier rocks to prevent paper blowing away until the transplant takes off. This shades the new transplants while they are getting adjusted to their new location and not as likely to go into any sort of shock. Do the spring transplanting in late afternoon rather than morning or noon. This gives them all night to adjust to the new spot. Do not fertilize.
You will have less luck with seeds, in my opinion, because spring is here and birds are hungry for seeds! Plus the seeds need to be watered daily, whereas the transplants need only every other day or so. Good luck and god bless. ": )
I believe I read in one of your many news letters/columns that used coffee grounds contain nitrogen which in turn is good to put on our yards with 'bald spots' in them. I remember reading that the used coffee grounds would make the grass grow again in the bald spots. Is there any truth to that or not?
THis is a good thing. I always add coffee grounds to compost and I didn't know why, but apparently it IS the nitrogen: "Coffee grounds can help keep your lawn green and healthy. Coffee grounds work well in a compost or alone to add nutrients to your soil and help your grass grow. It's high in nitrogen and slightly acidic, but it can bring your lawn to a deep-green color and help fill in dead patches."
Coffee grounds are a good addition to the garden.
As spring is approaching, I was just just wondering if anyone out there has any good home remedies for lawn patch? We have two dogs that aren't so nice to the lawn all winter long, and then takes forever to get it looking decent again. Thanks in advance to all that reply.
By Sherri from Alberta, Canada
We've used those bags of grass and recycled newspaper that are great for filling in, but they can get pricey. This won't help you this year, but is there a way to build a dog run so that they have a place to go without ruining the grass?
I need help getting my sunny Florida grass green. The shaded area of my lawn is doing well and sunny area around the pool just does not grow well. Thanks for the help.
Hardiness Zone: 10a
Dennis from Seminole, FL
You need to search for the kind of grass you have online. You'll get lot of info, good luck.
Years ago, before I bought my house, many trees were removed from my lawn. Now, the roots have decayed and left some rather large holes all over the front and backyard. I need to know the most economical way to fill these in.
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You need to buy shade grass seed and cover with burlap and water well. The burlap protects from seed stealer birds and helps keep the soil moist. The grass will grow right through the burlap and you pull it off gently when you get a good show of growth. (04/11/2005)
By Susan from Hamilton
I had that problem last year and I used the Lawn Patch Shady Mixture. It is grass seed, mulch and fertilizer. It worked great, for a shady spot under my tree and it came up so fast and blended with my existing lawn too! (04/11/2005)