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Northwest Gardening: A Patch-Perfect Lawn

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Patching in a fresh section of sod is a quick fix for any bare spot or lawn care disaster—especially if you have a garden party coming up.

bare spot in lawn

By Marianne Binetti

I can blame the fertilizer spreader—the chute was wide open as I added the lawn food. The result was way too much high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer dumped all in one spot of the front lawn. Of course it was in the most obvious spot possible, near the walkway. I tried to flush the area with water but I ended up with an irregular patch of black, slimy lawn. The grass burned to death from too much nitrogen.

Did I mention I had a garden party coming up?

So here’s some first aid for a dead patch in your lawn: Steal some turf from an out-of-the-way spot in the backyard and patch up your problems so perfectly, you won’t be able to see where the disaster happened.

newspaper with red template drawn

Step one: Dig out the dead grass. You can add it to your compost pile.

Step two: Lay down newspaper and trace an outline of the bare spot.

newspaper with tools on top

Step three: Use this newspaper template to cut sod in the exact same shape from a hidden area of lawn such as from the backyard. You can use a serrated root-cutting knife or a sharp shovel.

sod patch and newspaper template on tarp

Step four: Slide the cut sod, roots and all, onto a tarp and immediately move it to the bare spot.

bucket of compost and shovel on bare spot

Step five: Add compost or topsoil to the bare spot and work this into the top 2 in of soil. Soft, moist soil helps keep the roots of the new sod patch moist and encourages new grass roots to grow.

finished lawn patch with hose and tools

Step six: It’s a perfect fit, thanks to the template. Now just use your feet to firm the new sod in place, and and water regularly for several weeks until the turf has rooted.

Lawn faux pas averted, garden party enjoyed.

But wait, there’s more! You don’t have to have a fertilizer spill to use the patch technique. I like to widen my beds as the shrubs grow larger. This means I sometimes remove sod from the edges of the lawn. Whenever you cut out sod for a new project, look for brown spots or weedy areas in other parts of your lawn to renovate. When I dig down into a weedy patch of lawn I usually find a good-size rock or patch of clay that needs to be removed. Once I improve the soil below I can just patch in a recycled section of sod and the problem is gone.

This fall I’ll also be renovating my lawn by first aerating, then adding an inch of topsoil, and finally sprinkling grass seed. But that’s not until the rain returns; late September is a fine time to reseed any lawn in the Pacific Northwest.

So what’s your grass-roots solution to lawn problems?

See more Northwest Gardening Articles.