Quick Backyard Fixes for Dead Grass


Those ugly brown spots of withering, or already dead grass, ruin an otherwise beautiful green lawn. Sometimes an entire area will go brown especially if under a tree. Many factors cause grass to die. It's discouraging to work hard on a backyard lawn, watering, fertilizing and mowing only to have brown spots detract from your efforts. Fixing those spots isn't a difficult task. It takes a more little elbow grease, some preparation and not much expense. It helps to attack the spots while they're small.


Step 1

Determine why the grass is brown. Unless you know why the grass died it makes no sense to re-seed or patch. The grass may just die again. Patches are often caused by dogs urinating in the same place, heavy traffic wear, not enough water or not enough sun.

Step 2

Correct the problem. Make sure the sprinklers reach the dead area. Cordon off the area so dogs don't use it as their potty place. If the area doesn't get enough sun, replace the grass with groundcover that does well in the shade or a variety of grass that is shade tolerant. Place stepping stones in heavy traffic areas so grass can grow around the stones.

Step 3

Dig out the dead grass and 4 inches of soil below it. Replace the soil with top soil from the home improvement store mixed half and half with soil from another part of the backyard. Add an all-purpose fertilizer to the mixture per package directions.

Step 4

Water the area well.

Quick Fixes

Step 1

Dig a healthy patch of grass from an area of the yard where it won't be noticed, perhaps on the side yard, near a planter or by the edge of a flower bed. The patch should be slightly smaller than the bare area. Dig at least 2 inches of roots and soil with the grass patch. Replant in the bare spot. Step on the patch so the roots make firm contact with the soil and that the patch is level with the rest of the lawn. Water every day for the first week.

Step 2

Re-seed the area. Remove a shovel full of dirt from the prepared bare spot. Smooth the area so it's level. Sprinkle the area with grass seed. Cover the seed with the removed soil to a depth of 1/2 inch. Water every day for the first week.

Step 3

Cut a piece of sod obtained from a home improvement store or plant nursery to fit the bare spot. Plant in the bare spot. Step on the sod so it's flush with the soil level. Water every day for the first week.

Tips and Warnings

  • Over-fertilizing the new grass seedlings will kill them. You've already added fertilizer to the soil below the patch, so hold off with any additional fertilizer until after the second mowing.

Things You'll Need

  • Grass seed
  • Grass sod
  • Shovel
  • Top soil
  • Fertilizer


  • "Great Ideas for Your Garden;" Courtier et al; 2003
  • "Backyard Blueprints;" David Stevens; 2002

Who Can Help

  • ExtensionInfoNet.org: Lawn & Garden
Keywords: patching a lawn, quick fixes for dead grass, re-seeding over dead grass

About this Author

Dee Power holds an MBA. She is the co-author of "Attracting Capital from Angels," "Inside Secrets to Venture Capital," "The Making of a Bestseller," the novel "Over Time," and several screenplays. She contributes to several Web sites and is a regular columnist for favstocks.com