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Lawns: repairing

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last updated Nov 16, 2010
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Reseeding bare patches in a lawn. Credit: RHS/Advisory.

Patches in lawns can appear for a number of reasons, and when they do, it is always advisable to repair them. Re-seeding, or turfing bare patches will prevent weeds germinating in the patches, and of course, it looks much better.

Suitable for... Back to top

Lawns that have developed discrete areas of poor growth, perhaps from physical damage or wear and tear, should be repaired.

Lawns that are generally poor, weedy, or sparse will benefit from a programme of thorough lawn maintenance. If the lawn is really bad, then total re-laying or re-seeding may be necessary.

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Lawn care: spring and summer
Lawn care: autumn
Lawns from turf
Lawns from seed

When to repair lawns Back to top

Lawns are best repaired in spring or autumn, when the weather is damp and cool, as the lawn is most likely to recover well in these conditions.

Repairing lawns Back to top

Using turf

  • Cut out the damaged area of turf in a square, using a half moon edging iron to cut the square and a spade to lift it.
  • Lightly fork over the soil in the base of the removed square.
  • Cut out an identical-sized square of healthy turf from another area of the garden where it will not be missed, or use new turf if you have it.
  • Place the healthy turf over the damaged patch and brush a sandy lawn top-dressing into the crevices between the turves.
  • Compress the turf edges with the back of a rake.
  • Water in with a watering can fitted with a fine rose.

Using seed

  • Cut out the damaged area of turf in a square, using a half moon edging iron to cut the square and a spade to lift it.
  • Lightly fork over the soil in the base of the removed square.
  • Sprinkle some crumbly top soil or compost over the base of the removed square.
  • Scatter the grass seed over the base at a rate of 15-25g per sq m (½¾oz per sq yard) if no sowing rate is given on the packet or by the supplier.
  • Cover the seed with a light sprinkling of top soil or compost to hide it from the birds.
  • Water in with a watering can fitted with a fine rose.

Better results may be achieved by pre-germinating the seed before sowing it. Add the seed to some moist compost in a bucket and cover with clingfilm. Place somewhere warm – no higher than 15°C (60°F). After three days, check the seed for signs of germination. If none is seen, check daily thereafter. Once you see small white roots developing, sow the mixture as above.

Repairing lawn edges

  • Dig out the damaged area with square cuts on three sides and prepare the base as above.
  • Turn the damaged square through 180° and replace it so that the cut edge aligns with the lawn edge and the damaged edge is facing inwards.
  • Cut away the damaged area and re-turf or re-seed as above.

Evening out minor bumps and hollows

  • Cut through the uneven patch with an H-shaped incision and peel back the turf.
  • Fork over the base and either remove excess soil or add new top soil to raise the level.
  • Firm down the soil and make sure the patch is level before replacing the turf.
  • Check the lawn is level and adjust again if necessary.
  • Brush a sandy lawn top-dressing into the crevices between the turves.
  • Compress the turf edges with the back of a rake.
  • Water in with a watering can fitted with a fine rose.

Problems Back to top

Sometimes, repaired patches appear a different colour from the existing turf. Using turf from elsewhere in the garden (rather than new turf) to repair your lawn may avoid this problem. Otherwise, try to buy seed or turf from the same supplier as before, and request the same product as bought previously.

Quick facts

Repair lawns in spring or autumn
Re-seed bare patches or use turf from another part of the lawn
If the whole lawn is patchy, it may be advisable to totally re-seed or re-lay the lawn

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