How To Get Grass To Grow In Bare Spots ( In 8 Easy Steps )

There can be numerous reasons why grass will not grow in some spots, even a well-maintained lawn will have a couple of bare spots. Most people will simply seed with grass seeds these bare spots and hope for the best although this approach will not always work. The good news is that you can fix these bare patches in your lawn but first you have to identify the main cause of the bare spots and address them accordingly.

Generally speaking, the main reason why bares spots appear in a lawn are eroded topsoil, waterlogged soil, over-fertilizing, and not enough sunlight. For the most part, if you have a completely bare spot in your lawn and nothing grows, not even weeds then the most likely cause is that the topsoil has eroded or compacted. Sowing grass seeds and raking this bare spot will not fix the issue, you actually have to add high-quality topsoil in which the grass seeds can germinate.

If you have a lot of foot traffic in a particular area of the lawn then some bare spots might appear, this is a combination of soil erosion and compaction. On the other hand, if the lawn is fairly new, has done well during the last summer but in the current year, some bare spots appeared it might be a combination of waterlogged soil and not enough sunlight. If you have clay soil in your area and you are having bare spots in your lawn then check out my recent article How To Amend Clay Soil Without Tilling ( Top 8 Methods ).

How To Get Grass To Grow In Bare Spots

In my personal experience as a gardener, I have found effective ways to encourage grass to grow in bare spots. First, I start by preparing the area by loosening the soil with a garden rake or hand cultivator to create a suitable seedbed. Next, I select grass seed that is appropriate for my specific climate and soil conditions, ensuring it matches the existing grass in my lawn. I evenly distribute the seed over the bare spots, following the recommended seeding rate. To promote germination and provide protection, I lightly cover the seeds with a thin layer of compost or topsoil.

Keeping the soil consistently moist is crucial for successful germination, so I water the seeded areas regularly, ensuring they don’t dry out. To prevent the seeds from being disturbed or eaten by birds, I cover the bare spots with a light layer of straw or mulch.

Aerate The Bare Spots In The Lawn

The first step of fixing the bare spots in your lawn is to aerate the soil, odds are that the bare spot has compacted soil which means beneficial microorganisms and bacteria are absent in that patch of soil. In order to aerate the soil you can either till it or use a soil aerator, simply raking the soil will not be enough. There are Commercial Soil Conditioners that you can use, although my personal recommendation is to use organic material. In case you are fed up with constantly tending to your lawn, then you should convert it to a wildflower garden, for more information check out my recent article Wildflower Garden ( In 10 Easy Steps ).

Compost The Bare Spots In The Lawn

It is extremely important to add a layer of compost on the bare spots after you have aerated the soil. Once the soil has been aerated the beneficial bacteria will move in as long as there is something to eat. A high-quality compost not only feeds the plants growing in it but the bacteria and other microorganisms as well. You can either mix the compost into the soil or just place the compost directly on the bare spot.

Mulch The Bare Spots In The Lawn

Mulching the bare spots in your lawn will help to rebuild the topsoil, even if the soil has been eroded a good thick layer of mulch will fertilize the soil. The mulch will protect the topsoil from drying out and will allow beneficial bacteria, bugs, and worms to move in. Mulches that break down relatively fast are ideal for fixing bare spots in the lawn, like grass clippings, hay, and straw. Just make sure to make a thick layer on top of the compost.

Keep in mind that you need to allow the mulch to decompose for a couple of months before you sow the grass seeds. Do not under any circumstances mulch the bare spots one day and sew the seeds the second day as the mulch is not an ideal environment for the grass seeds to germinate.

Use Seed Grass That Grows Well In Your Area

There are a lot of different types of grasses that are used in lawns, the problem is that not all of them will be good for your local climate. Make sure to choose a type of grass that does well in your local area, and most importantly make sure that the grass is relatively low maintenance. In case the lawn is high maintenance you will have to use a lot of fertilizers and these can actually destroy your topsoil and you will end up with bare spots in your lawn once again.

Sow The Grass Seeds In The Fall

I know that you want to fix your bare spots in the lawn as soon as possible, although if you have a lot of bare spots in your lawn then it is extremely important to sew the grass seeds during the fall. Ideally, you should check the first frost date in your local area and sew the grass seeds around 50-60 days before it. On the other hand, if you have a small bare spot in your lawn you can sow the seeds even during the summertime although make sure to keep the soil moist for the first couple of weeks.

Sowing The Grass Seeds On The Bare Spots

Once you have amended the bare spots with compost, it is time to sow the grass seeds. Make sure to rake up the compost on the bare spots and start sprinkling in the grass seeds. You can either use the rake to cover the grass seeds with a thin layer of compost or you can simply step on them. By stepping on the grass seeds you will ensure that the seeds have a lot of surface area touching the compost and the germination rate will be a lot higher this way.

Water The Grass Seeds

Make sure to water the bare spots well where you have sown the grass seeds. Grass seeds will not germinate if the soil is dry, water the area once or twice a day and keep the soil moist for the first couple of weeks. After a couple of days, you will see the germination rate, at this point, you can still add more grass seeds to the bare spots. If the area gets a lot of direct sunlight and you notice that the seedlings are struggling then make sure to give them some shade. The cheapest way of watering your lawn is by collecting rainwater, however, it is not legal in all states, for more information check out my recent article Collecting rainwater illegal? ( Laws in all 50 States ).

Protect The Grass Seedlings From Slugs And Snails

If you live in an area where slugs and snails tend to be a problem then you have to protect your grass seedlings for the first couple of weeks. If you have a relatively small patch of bare spots in your lawn then the best way to protect them is by placing plastic bottles on top of them, for more information check out my recent article Protecting Young Plants With Plastic Bottles ( Slug & Snail Proof ). On the other hand, if you have several bare spots or a large bare spot on your lawn then you have to use slug pellets.

Although slug pellets do their job of killing slugs and snails, but their downside is that they work relatively slowly. Once a slug or snail has ingested the slug pellets it has still a couple of minutes to an hour until the poison starts affecting it. During this time the slugs and snails will simply eat the grass seedlings. In this case, my personal recommendation is to start applying slug pellets to the bare patch in the lawn around 2-3 weeks before you sow the grass seeds, this way you will have a far easier time controlling the number of snails.

Key Takeaways

  • Start by removing any debris or dead grass from the bare spots. Loosen the soil surface using a garden rake to create a better seed bed for grass seed to establish. You may also consider lightly aerating the soil to improve drainage and allow better penetration of nutrients.
  • Select a high-quality grass seed suitable for your specific growing conditions, such as the amount of sunlight and soil type. Ensure that the grass seed is appropriate for the region and climate where you live. Read the seed packaging for recommended seeding rates and instructions.
  • Spread the grass seed evenly over the bare spots, following the recommended seeding rate. Lightly rake the area to cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil. Water the seeded areas gently but thoroughly, keeping the soil consistently moist until the grass seed germinates and establishes. Avoid overwatering, as it can wash away the seeds or lead to fungal issues.