Gardening Help FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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Horticulture Questions and Answers

How do I repair bare spots in my cool-season lawn?

Lawns often have areas of thin grass or bare spots that detract from the overall appearance. In most cases, the rest of the lawn is in good condition. Many people attempt to correct bare and thin patches merely by scattering seed over the spot. This is a waste of both time and money.

To establish good grass on problem areas, you must follow certain steps. First, cut the lawn low to get rid of as much existing vegetation as possible. Remove thatch, which is dead grass, crowns and roots, and leaves with a rake. The surface of the soil should be completely exposed. Fill any low spots with good top soil and then loosen all the soil in the bare spots with a spading fork or aerate with a aerating machine. Once you have exposed and loosened the soil, rake smoothly and seed. A lawn starter fertilizer may also be worked into the soil before seeding.

After seeding lightly roll or rake the seeded area to insure good seed to soil contact. A seed net or straw may be applied after seeding to conserve moisture. Keep the newly seeded areas moist until the grass is up. Initially, this may require watering several times a day.

Many people attempt to seed bare spots in the spring. If you are only fixing small areas, spring repairs are fine. However, late August through mid-October is the best time to seed cool-season turf grasses, because soil and air temperature favor germination and root development.

Additionally, weed development is less of a problem and the newly established turf grass has two seasons of optimum growth before facing a hot summer.