question markLike it or not, you have a dead spot in your lawn. This can happen for a number of reasons, with some of the most common causes being:  turf disease (fungi), drought stress, surface-feeding lawn insects (chinch bugs or sod webworms), salt damage, grub damage, pet damage, just to name a few. No matter what the Case of the Dead Lawn yields as the culprit, you will still need to repair the spot and get some new grass growing in your lawn.

If the area is a small area, many property owners often consider repairing the areas themselves. Before you spend your time, money, and effort seeding lawn areas be sure to ask yourself the following questions about your seeding project.

1)  Is this the best time to seed my lawn?  The best time to seed a lawn is when the temperatures are mild and moisture is easily retained in the soil. This means if you’re trying to seed a spot in the middle of the hot summer, you may want to just try to tolerate it for a couple months and wait until the weather is ideal. In most circumstances, the best time to seed is in the early fall since you’ll still have warm soil temperature, frequent rain, and a long time until hot, dry conditions approach the following summer.

grass seed in hand2)  What kind of grass seed/sod should I use?  Find out what kind of grass you have growing in your lawn otherwise your grass could really look like patch work. Turfgrass varieties all have differing light requirements and features and benefits so make a wise choice. A good lawn care company can help identify what species is right for your lawn. If you want to use sod, know that this is primarily Kentucky Bluegrass and may not match your existing lawn as well as some seed mixtures may.

3)  Will lawn care treatments interfere with my seeding?  Another reason we recommend seeding in the fall is because crabgrass control will inhibit any variety of grass germination in addition to its target. Seeding in the fall will insure the new grass will be up in time for crabgrass preventer in the spring. Likewise, broadleaf weed control materials can kill new grass seedlings. If you use one of your local lawn care services to treat your lawn, contact them about when they plan on applying this material. In a lot of cases, they can apply this weed control treatment and then you can seed approximately 1 week later. Just keep them in the loop so they can know how to best treat these areas.

4)  Is the area a low spot?  Unless the area is low, you shouldn’t add soil or you will end up with a high spot when the grass grows in. Even if you do add soil, tilling the first couple inches of the existing, dead lawn areas can help those new grass seedlings to root better when they start growing.

slice seeding5)  Is my soil good enough for seeding? Your chances for getting grass to grow are increased if you can get the grass to contact loose soil. This may mean at minimum you will need to chop up the area with a garden weasel, or like implement. However, machinery such as a slice-seeder can help to cut grooves in the soil and deposit the seed below. Topdressing these areas with a very thin layer (1/4″) of soil and compost will also improve germination results. If your soil in these areas is very poor, you may want to consider removing the soil and replacing it with 4″-6″ of screened topsoil. In any case, it is also a great recommendation to take a soil test of the area you want to seed and then make any recommended amendments to adjust soil pH, and nutrient levels as needed so your lawn can perform well in the long term.

6)  What will I do with any resulting debris?  If you are loosening the soil or replacing it, you may end up with debris from dead grass plants and/or soil. If this isn’t too severe, debris can usually remain, but you may want to plan for how and where you will get rid of it.

oscillating sprinkler7)  What is my plan to irrigate my new lawn areas? Wishful thinking and a rain dance isn’t satisfactory. Please understand that your new seed needs to stay constantly moist in the first couple weeks until it germinates. After it begins to grow, the area needs a generous watering several times a week or your new grass plants won’t mature into the lawn you are hoping for. Be sure you truly understand what proper watering is.

8)  Do I really want to seed myself vs. hiring a pro? If you decide that you need to hire a local lawn service to for lawn seeding or have questions about how we can help with any other lawn care questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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My Biggest Lawn Care Challenges for my property in Lancaster, York, Lebanon, or Dauphin County, PA (check all that apply):

CrabgrassBroadleaf Weeds (dandelions, clover, etc.)Lawn ThicknessLawn ColorNutsedgeGrubsTurf Disease/Fungi

LimestoneSurface-Feeding Insects (chinch bugs, sod webworms)Soil TestingAerationSeedingTopdressingTurf Growth Regulator