How to Repair Patches of Dead Grass with Grass Plugs
Sparse areas and patches of dead grass on your lawn can stem from all sorts of issues, such as poor soil conditions, fungal diseases, animal digging, pet urine, heavy foot traffic, and heat and drought. Regardless of the underlying cause of these unsightly problems, grass plugs emerge as an effective solution to restore your lawn to its healthy and vibrant state.
When to Repair Dead Grass and Bare Spots
Late spring to early fall is the optimal time for lawn repair when warm-season grasses are in active growth. During this period, temperatures are warm enough to facilitate strong root development without the risks of drying. It gives warm-season grass plugs enough time to acclimate to their new environment before entering winter dormancy.
While grass plugs can be planted year-round, you must pay more attention to lawn maintenance to avoid potential risks. Summer planting exposes them to high temperatures and dry conditions, increasing susceptibility to heat and drought stress. Winter grass plugging also poses risks, as dormant grass is more vulnerable to damage and potential desiccation.
Before You Begin
A successful lawn repair begins with identifying the underlying cause of the damage and addressing the problem. Sometimes, using too much lawn fertilizer may lead to bare or yellow spots in your lawn. Issues such as plant diseases, pest infestations, or weeds competing with your desired grass for sunlight, water, and nutrients, resulting in nutrient deficiencies, can also cause damage to your entire lawn. Correcting these issues before introducing grass plugs is essential, ensuring they can effectively fill the affected areas.
How to Fix Dead Spots in Your Lawn
Repairing lawn damage, fixing bare spots, and preparing your lawn to receive new grass plugs require the right tools to ensure a successful restoration.
Gather Your Tools
If you're working on a relatively small lawn with a few sparse areas or bare spots, you can mostly get away with a rake to clear dead grass and a grass plug tool to dig holes for the plugs.
Ensure timely order placement for your grass plugs so you can install them within 24 hours of harvest to maintain their viability. Because grass is a living product, it has a limited shelf-life even in the best conditions. We also recommend having grass fertilizer ready to kickstart root development and support your new grass as it establishes.
Prepare the Soil
Start by raking the soil to remove any debris left on your lawn. This initial step serves multiple purposes—it prepares the soil for receiving the new grass plugs, creating room for healthy grass to spread. It also provides easier access to the soil, facilitating a better flow of nutrients, sunlight, water, and air to the roots.
Additionally, if you're addressing a damaged area with some existing grass, consider running the mower to trim it closely. However, exercise caution to avoid scalping the lawn and damaging the crown. Overall, these preparatory steps set the stage for successful grass-plugging.
While the damaged sections of your lawn remain bare, it's an opportune time to address any existing weed issues. Apply the appropriate herbicide to the affected areas and remove any easily accessible weeds by hand to prevent further spread.
Consider using a pre-emergent herbicide to target weed seeds before they germinate and take root in your lawn. Exercise caution to avoid contact with your desirable grass, as the chemicals may cause damage to it. It's also crucial to time your herbicide application more than 7-10 days before planting to allow the herbicide to absorb and activate into the soil.
Aerate the Lawn
While raking may help improve soil conditions at a surface level, aerating works deeper into the soil to relieve compaction and facilitate better root penetration. You can use a grass plug tool to function as an aerator—extract soil plugs from your lawn to allow the surrounding particles to move into the empty spaces, effectively reducing soil compaction.
Support optimal growth and resilience by using a high-quality granular fertilizer like NutriPod. This grass plug fertilizer has a well-balanced mix of essential nutrients to kickstart grass growth and facilitate faster lawn recovery. Because the fertilizer comes in pre-measured dissolvable pods, fertilizing becomes more convenient while minimizing the risk of over-fertilization. Simply drop each pod into a planting hole before inserting the plugs.
Fertilize your lawn every 6-8 weeks after the initial application, maintaining the same intervals throughout the growing season. This consistent feeding schedule guarantees a steady supply of nutrients for sustained health and vigor. It builds up your lawn, enabling it to withstand weeds, heat, drought, and daily wear and tear.
Plant Grass Plugs
Transplant grass plugs by inserting them into the planting holes, ensuring the edges fit snugly against the surroundings. Press each plug firmly onto the soil to promote better soil-to-plug contact. You can also walk on the restored area once all the plugs are in place to help them settle into the soil and integrate seamlessly with your existing grass. Read here for a more in-depth guide on how to start a lawn with grass plugs.
Mulch and Water Deeply
Consider layering your newly restored lawn with topsoil or grass clippings—just enough to cover the ground. This method helps slow evaporation, improve soil drainage, and provide additional nutrients to strengthen your lawn.
Water your lawn thoroughly immediately after planting to further assist in establishing your grass plugs. Water your lawn daily for 10-14 days to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
Grass plugs come with a deep and established root system, but it can take several weeks to adapt to the new soil. Once the grass reaches mowing height, you can reduce watering to once or twice a week, ensuring deep watering to train the roots to grow deep into the soil for a more drought-resistant lawn.
Wait Before Mowing
Refrain from mowing your new grass for at least a month, allowing them enough time to establish their roots in the soil. Premature mowing may risk damage to the roots and disrupt their process of adapting to the new environment.
Once your grass reaches the ideal mowing height—typically between 3.5 and 4 inches—and begins spreading to transform bare spots into a lush, green ground cover, it signals successful root establishment.
Subsequently, you can gradually introduce regular mowing, following the one-third rule: cut no more than one-third of your grass height with each mowing session. This practice fosters lateral growth, improving your lawn's resilience against weed growth and diseases.
Grass plugs prove to be an effective solution for establishing a new lawn or replacing dead grass. With mature roots, they facilitate rapid growth and quick establishment that significantly outpace traditional grass seeds. They provide a faster, more reliable method to restore your lawn to its lush, vibrant state.
Dead grass? Explore a wide range of premium-quality warm-season grass plugs on our website and kickstart your journey towards a thriving and resilient turf.