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Even the healthiest lawns need a little help now and then. Drought, standing
water, pets, foot traffic, and just plain accidents all conspire to create
small flaws in a carpet-like lawn. Repairing these problem areas, however, is
usually simple. With seed and some diligent watering, thin or bare areas can
be as lush as the rest of your lawn.
However, it's important to figure out what caused the problem and correct it. The most common problem is too much shade. That may call not for patching the lawn, but for finding a lawn alternative that isn't bothered by too little sun, such as groundcover, mulch, or a paving material.
Prepare soil by removing weeds and damaged grass. For best results, enlarge the area about 6 inches beyond the problem itself. Next, prepare the soil as thoroughly as you would if you were replanting a new lawn. Turn it over to a depth of 6 inches, removing any obvious roots or rocks. Add some compost or well rotted manure and mix into the soil well. Lawn Soils specifically formulated for starting lawn seeds which contain a starter fertilizer can also be used. Smooth with a ground rake and then firm soil with your hands.
Sow seed at the rate recommended on the package, scattering by hand. Rake to cover with a thin layer of soil. If the weather is especially hot or dry, cover the seed with a light layer of weed-free mulch. Dried grass clippings make an excellent mulch for this.
For faster results, you can patch with sod. Cut the sod to fit the size and shape of the patch. Then position a small piece on the patch. If the sod seems higher than the surrounding lawn, excavate a little soil out of the patch, smooth, and try again. Note: Sod that's too high will get scalped by the mower. Be sure that the pieces of sod butt up tightly against one another. Walk gently on top of the area to make sure the sod roots have good contact with the soil.
It's critical to keep the patched lawn moist. Gently water new seeds with the mist attachment of a sprayer or a gentle sprinkler. Sod can take a more powerful spray, but both need a soaking to a depth of 6 inches the first day followed by daily or even twice daily watering until well established.
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