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How To Fix Patchy Grass

a brown patch of grass

There’s nothing quite like warm weather. The smell of freshly cut grass, the sound of the sprinklers and enjoying time outside in your yard.

It can be disheartening when you see a patchy area or a couple of spots close to the house where the grass just isn’t green and healthy.

It may save you some time to know that simply watering bare or brown patches won’t help. If watering were the only problem, you wouldn’t see irregular patches. Instead, you would notice some pattern related to your sprinkler system. Barren and brown patches indicate something else is happening in your lawn.

Fixing bare patches in your lawn can be simple once you’ve figured out the root cause of why the patches are present.

What Causes Patches of Dead Grass?

There are many reasons why you may have patches of dead grass and some are easier to fix than others. Here are the reasons why you have patchy grass.


Grubs are one of the most common causes of patchy grass. Many insects, like Japanese beetles and june bugs start their life underground. They can live a year or more beneath your lawn before emerging. If you’re unsure what they look like, it’s helpful to know that grubs are thick, off-white insects. They have clear heads and legs and large C-shaped bodies.

Japanese beetles are one of the most common and least wanted grubs. These beetles can destroy a variety of plants, including those that may be growing in your garden.

Use a shovel to dig down five or six inches at the edge of one of the patches. Bring up a bit of green grass along with the dead. It’s best to check a few different spots. Turn the soil over and sift through it by hand, looking for grubs.

If you find grubs in your soil samples, you should start by spraying your lawn to get rid of them. Left unchecked, you will likely have more dead lawn patches the next spring. Grubs do most of their damage in the late summer when your grass is stressed from heat and low water. Dead patches you find with grubs in the soil were probably formed the previous fall but didn’t become apparent until the spring growing season.

If spraying your lawn for grubs is not something you’re prepared to do, it’s a good idea to contact lawn care professionals. They can provide targeted solutions to address your grub problem and ensure the treatment is applied properly to reach them down in the soil where they live.

Once you have the cause treated, you should reseed the affected areas. Several reseeding kits on the market are designed for small projects like this. By knowing what kind of grass you have, you can get the right one to match your lawn, along with the proper amendments to maximize germination and growth.

Fungal Disease

Look closely at the grass in the bare spots, especially at the edges. If you see fine, white webbing between the grasses, you likely have a fungus attacking your grass. Fungi like this are pretty temperamental, and your lawn care routine happens to meet their needs. The solution is to change your routine a bit. Plan an extra day between waterings in that area or reduce the time the sprinkler hits that area so the lawn can dry out more.

If you notice the white webs go away, and the grass starts to regrow, you’ll know you solved the problem. However, if this doesn’t help, it’s best to contact a pro. Typically, a good lawn maintenance schedule is enough to treat or prevent fungus. A professional can implement the best lawn care schedule for your particular lawn.

Poor Irrigation

If your sprinkler system is missing the area, dead patches can be as simple as fixing your irrigation. You can check for clogged sprinkler emitters that leave some spots high and dry. If so, that’s a simple fix you can handle yourself or have a lawn care professional repair.

Lawn Mower Gas Spills

If you happened to have gassed up your lawnmower and spilled gas, it will kill the grass. Also, if a vehicle has leaked oil or antifreeze while parked on the lawn, this will kill the grass. These issues call for removing the contaminated soil and replacing it.

Pet Urine

Both dogs and cats use their sense of smell to identify good places to use the bathroom. They like to go where other animals have gone. Pets using the same spot several times can lead to a dead patch in your lawn. You can identify this problem by finding a healthy, dark green border around the dead patch. The same chemicals that burn healthy grass act as fertilizer when they’re less concentrated. This means that urine burns will have a fertilized ring around them where the grass looks darker and grows faster than other grass in the area.

Watering these spots heavily will dilute the urine in the soil and allow what remains to act as fertilizer. It will also wash away the scent that drew pets to that spot. But pets can return and do the exact same thing. You may want to train your pets to use the restroom elsewhere in your yard to prevent this problem.

Wear and Tear

Last but not least is the possibility of ordinary wear and tear. You may have a couple of spots you normally step in when walking out to check the mail or cutting over to the sidewalk. Rather than dead patches, these spots are usually bare dirt. Often a series of paving stones is a good solution for this situation. You can sink them into the lawn so you can drive your mower right over them. Another solution may be having plants better suited to walking on.

mushrooms in a yard

Why Are There Mushrooms in My Yard?

Have you ever walked out one morning and found a mushroom in your yard? Other times you can find a ring of mushrooms that weren’t there last night. You may also find mushrooms that have popped up near where an old tree once stood, even if you had the stump removed.

Mushrooms indicate that you have very healthy soil with a lot of organic matter. That doesn’t mean you necessarily want mushrooms around, though, especially if you have little kids or curious pets that might try to taste them. One common cause of mushrooms in lawns or flower beds is the use of mushroom farm compost. Depleted mushroom farming medium is often sold as a soil amendment, and when conditions are just right it can give you a surprise crop.

Mushrooms will only pop up when conditions are just right. You might scale back your watering a bit. If you have an old stump in the yard, contact a tree care professional to remove it and the larger roots that are still underground. You might also consider trimming back overhanging limbs that provide too much shade where the mushrooms appear.

a well cared for lawn

Yard Maintenance Is the Key to a Beautiful Lawn

Regular, routine maintenance helps prevent and address common lawn issues. Good watering practices and regular mowing, weeding, dethatching and aerating your lawn as needed will keep grass roots healthier. Healthy lawn grasses will out-compete most weeds and less desirable grasses. When your lawn is healthy, it can better stand up to pests like grubs.

It can seem like a lot to handle at times, especially when you’re already busy shuttling kids around, working and crossing off your to-do list of other homeowner responsibilities. Caring for your lawn can fall to the wayside. Rather than letting the lawn care slide, avoid future problems and bring in lawn care professionals. They can take that load off your plate and keep one problem from turning into a dozen others. And that smell of freshly cut grass? It smells even sweeter when someone else took care of it for you.

ABC Can Keep Your Lawn Healthy and Green

The best way to prevent any problem with your lawn is to create a lawn care schedule that works best for the lawn type, soil type and sun exposure you have in your yard. Instead of spending your free time trying to determine what will work best for your particular situation, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our lawn care specialists are highly-trained and can provide you with routine lawn care that keeps your lawn free of fungi, pests and other diseases.

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