"A patch of dead grass, even a small one, in an otherwise acceptable lawn can be an eyesore and a weed magnet," says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dr. Tom Koske. Use turfgrass to patch the lawn. It’s easy, immediate and permanent and checks soil erosion.
To repair a lawn with turfgrass sod, Koske says to follow eight steps.
- Identify what caused the old grass to die, and fix the problem. It might have been too much traffic on the area, heavy shade, low/wet spots, freeze, insects, disease or something that spilled. Sometimes you should dig down several inches to see if what’s under the dead spot is responsible. Fix the source of the problem if it still exists, or you’ll just be re-doing the next steps over and over. Also keep in mind that summer chinchbugs and fall brown patch disease are never-ending concerns in Louisiana; get on those problems before they kill your grass.
- Outline the patch area with string or spray paint to create straight sides encompassing the dead area. Till, spade or otherwise loosen the soil under the dead patch. Then, rake it smooth while you remove dead roots, excess soil and other debris. The straight sides will make it easier to fit the new sod in place without a lot of trimming, gaps or holes.
- Purchase enough fresh turfgrass sod from a local sod farm or garden center to finish the repair by measuring the four sides of a tilled area. Convert the number of square feet to square yards (9 square feet equals 1 square yard of sod).
- Soon after buying the sod, install it onto the prepared area by placing the first piece along the longest straight line available. All subsequent pieces of sod should be laid tightly against the first piece, without stretching or overlapping. Lay sod tight together or backfill all gaps and spaces with soil.
- Ensure the new sod has good contact with the soil underneath by either using a weighted lawn roller or by placing boards on the new sod and walking on the boards a few times to press the sod flat.
- Water the new patch until the soil under the sod is wet, but not saturated. Without rain, you may have to water the patch once a day for the first week. If the soil beneath the sod is not wet, you need to apply more water. Lift up a piece to check. Reduce your watering the next week and more so the third week.
- Restrict traffic on the area for least two weeks to give the grass a chance to grow roots and the soil to settle. Sod will establish in three weeks with good warm temperatures.
- Mow the area about two weeks after patching or whenever the sod is tightly rooted. If possible, try to run your mower diagonally across the sod seams. This will reduce rutting and the chance of your mower lifting a corner of sod from the new patch.
"After you’re finished, you can enjoy your lawn without further worries about that patched area," Koske says, adding, "These simple steps will create a mature and complete lawn patch immediately – unlike attempts at patching with grass seed that most often require weed control and months to achieve even a marginally acceptable result."