Here is how to restore dead patches on your lawn
Q: I have small patches of dead grass that I would like to replant in my lawn. Can you provide some advice on how best to replant?
A: Now is a great time to replant your lawn if you have a lawn made up of cool season grasses, such as a fescue and bluegrass mix. If you have warm season grasses such as Bermuda grass you should wait until spring to replant.
To replant, you should start with digging out the dead patches by one to two inches deep, making sure to dig beyond dead area into actively growing grass by about six inches past the dead grass. Remove dead turf and then work up the soil below. Break up any clods and remove weeds, roots and rocks.
Mix in some starter fertilizer and add soil back to the hole if needed and amendments such as compost. If you have a very sandy or a heavy clay soil.
Rake smooth and make sure the soil is firm with no low spots. Irrigate the site and wait a few days so the soil can settle and any weed seed can sprout before planting. If you do have weeds sprout use a hula hoe to remove it. Then plant with a high rate of seed recommended on the bag, and lightly cover with about ¼ inch, or compost or soil and irrigate. Irrigate frequently to keep the surface and seeds from drying out unit patches get well established.
When selecting seed to replant make sure that you get seed that is the same type as your lawn and it is free of weed seed. The percentage of weed seed can be determined by reading the label on the seed bag.
Before you replant you may want to investigate why the areas in your lawn died. You don’t want to do all this work to restore your lawn to have it die again next summer.
The main cause of dead areas in lawns is usually under-watering or overwatering. This can be caused by a sprinkler not reaching an area or an area of lawn getting flooded. You can put out a catch can to determine how much water is reaching the dead areas of the lawn. See the “Using Water Wisely” website for directions on how to do this at https://bit.ly/34gAUoP.
It’s best to water lawns deeply and less frequently. I recommend three times per week for the Redding area during the summer.
Water when the top two inches of soil are dry. Use a screwdriver or other tool to dig into the lawn to examine the moisture in the soil. The best time to water is between two and eight in the morning to reduce water loss from evaporation.
Thatch, a buildup of organic matter that hasn't decomposed, can also cause dead patches in lawns: Either by blocking water to the soil or by creating a spot for disease to grow. Check your lawn and if you have more than ½ inch of dead material at the base of your grass then consider removing it. It can be removed with a de-thatcher or verticutter, a mower with vertical blades.
Soil compaction is another cause of grass dieback. If the soil is compacted, aerate the lawn after dethatching. An aerator removes plugs of lawn and dirt, which loosens the soil and allows water to percolate deeper into the soil.
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A lawn stressed from drought, soil compaction and/or heavy thatch is more susceptible to disease and insect damage. If watering and other issues have been ruled out as the cause of the dead patches, then insects could be the problem. You can find information about insects on the University of California’s State Integrated Pest Management website at https://bit.ly/2Tbyodi
The Shasta Master Gardeners Program can be reached by phone at 242-2219 or email email@example.com. The gardener office is staffed by volunteers trained by the University of California to answer gardeners' questions using information based on scientific research.