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How to Fix Damaged Lawn Grass

Lawn damage, despite homeowners’ efforts, is quite common and occurs due to a variety of reasons. Weeds, dog urination, ant infestation, burnt or dead spots due to over feeding, under watering or foot traffic. Whether the entire lawn is damaged or a certain portion of it, immediate repair is called for to prevent the problem from getting out of hand, requiring renovation and re-establishment. Fixing lawn grass damage is essential for the overall look of your lawn and the surrounding landscape.

Walk through your lawn to determine the cause of damage so you can prevent it from happening again. Look for signs of mole holes or an ant infestation or the overgrowth of weeds. Check your dog’s urination habits to see if it passes urine in your lawn. Check for fungal diseases by looking for yellow-brown spots or blades of grass with red threads. Check your watering and feeding schedule to determine whether you are overdoing it.

Remove weeds by hand for small lawns, or kill them by using a broad spectrum herbicide. Crabgrass, clover and chickweed are stubborn weeds that will need a few applications of herbicide.

Rent a dethatcher to remove thatch--an accumulated layer of leaf clippings and plant debris from the soil surface--so water can reach the roots. You can also use a rake to remove excess thatch.

Douse circular brown or burnt spots caused by dog urination with water to dilute the effect. Female dog urine contains a high level of nitrogen that causes delicate grass to burn. Install stakes with chicken wire around your lawn to deter dogs from urinating in it.

Divert foot traffic from your lawn by placing stepping stones or using an alternate route. Frequent foot traffic compresses and kills lawn grass, allowing unsightly patches to form in your lawn.

Install mole traps near mounds of dirt to catch these pests that create holes in your lawn.

Replace grass that is so damaged it fails to bounce back to life despite your best efforts. Divide your damaged grass into sections and use a shovel to dig up grass with 2-inches of soil, exposing a fresh layer underneath. Add compost and starter fertilizer to it, and level it with the back of a shovel. Spread grass seed over the area, and back fill lightly to maintain good seed to soil contact. Cover the seed with a layer of mulch until it germinates. Water three times a day until the seeds sprout, reducing to once a day after the roots establish themselves. Mow the grass when it is 2 to 3 inches tall.


Purchase a “step system” fertilizer from a nursery to feed your lawn grass the right amount of fertilizer it needs to repair itself, if you have been neglecting it for a long time. Mow your grass frequently. Water your lawn grass occasionally but deeply.

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