Brown Spots on Your Lawn? Time to Reseed.

Early autumn is an optimal time to repair those bare spots in the yard. Waiting until the temperatures drop gives your grass time to establish a strong foundation before winter frosts. While some individuals reseed their lawns in the summer, waiting until early autumn protects your growing grass from excess heat. Reseeding your lawn in the fall also keeps your grass looking thick and healthy. 

Seeding the lawn is no small feat, so it's important to take the proper before, during and after steps to ensure your grass grows properly the first time around. 

 

Before

1. Get to the root of the problem 

Before reseeding your lawn, determine what caused grass to deteriorate in the first place. Heavy foot traffic, scalping the lawn, dull mower blades or trees competing for nourishment can all cause bare spots in the lawn. If foot traffic and other issues are killing your grass, reseeding will only be a temporary fix. To prevent this from occurring again, add some stepping stones through your yard to keep foot traffic controlled. Be sure to select grass seed that serves as a solution to your lawn's problems. For example, if a large tree is blocking areas of your lawn from much-needed sunlight, choose a shade-tolerant grass seed. 

2. Spend to save

Do not choose grass seed based solely on cost. Planting a type of grass seed simply because it's cheaper could actually cause more harm than good, as it may not grow with your region's soil or climate ' requiring more reseeding and, as a result, more money. 

You can also avoid picking the wrong seed by taking a grass sample from your lawn to your local garden center to help ensure you're choosing one that will grow well with your existing grass, climate and region. Often, garden centers will provide free samples to test if it will work for your yard; this will help you choose a type of seed. 

3. Prep your soil for planting

Remove grass, weeds, thatch and a few inches of soil from each bare spot you want to replace. Turn the soil in each spot to loosen the ground and improve drainage. This makes it easier for water and nutrients to trickle down to the roots of your new grass. If you're reseeding a large area in the backyard, opt for a garden tiller to break up the soil and cut down on time.  

Next, determine the nutrients your soil lacks with a testing kit. Testing kits range from $10-$50 and typically test for pH levels, nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. Once you receive your results, mix lawn humus (organic materials such as peat moss, leaf mold and manure) along with other nutrients your lawn lacks into the soil. 

Another valuable resource is your county's extension office. Most counties within the United States have an extension office that can provide invaluable help and information about gardening and lawn care for little to no cost.   

 

During: Planting the seed

Once your soil is prepped and ready for seeding, rake the seeds with some fertilizer into each bare spot on your lawn. Make sure the soil is level with the ground to prevent runoff water. 
 
Troy-Bilt Tip: Covering each spot with a layer of organic material will help seeds stay moist and gives them a natural shield from hungry birds. 
 

After: Be Patient

After you've reseeded your lawn, avoid walking on and mowing the newly planted grass. This is a vital time for grass to establish roots, so be sure to give bare spots plenty of water. It's recommended to install a temporary fence around seeded areas. Most home improvement and hardware stores sell temporary fencing for $10-$50. For those with outdoor pets, it's also beneficial to purchase stakes and fencing that are at least 4-feet tall to protect your growing grass.

Keep the top inch of soil moist, not soggy, by misting your seedlings once or twice a day. You can cut back watering intervals after you mow the area for the first time. Make sure you mow when your grass and soil are completely dry to avoid damaging the roots and slowing growth. Different types of grasses vary on when they are ready to be mowed; check with your local gardening store to determine when is the best time to mow your new grass.