How to Revive a Damaged Lawn


Some grass varieties struggle with heavy foot traffic, while others may turn brown under direct sunlight. Some may withstand dry spells, but others cannot survive severe drought conditions. Or maybe your yard is grappling with issues such as pests or diseases, resulting in unsightly yellow areas or bare patches.

Whatever the reason for your damaged lawn, it can look unsightly and distressing as you remember the lush, green carpet it once was. The silver lining is that there are things you can do to undo the lawn damage and give it a fresh start.

Bethel Farms covers the multi-faceted approach to reviving a damaged lawn to its full potential and explains where grass repair pods can help.

Is it Damaged or Dead Grass?

Before heading straight into reviving your lawn, one thing to ask yourself is, what damaged your lawn in the first place? There are many possible reasons for a damaged lawn: 

  • Drought
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Heavy-foot traffic
  • Flooding
  • Weed encroachment
  • Fungal disease

Identifying and addressing the cause of the problem is key to preventing it from happening again. However, in any scenario, you’ll have to see whether your lawn is completely dead or severely damaged. Installing new grass sod can be more expensive than patching up your damaged lawn with grass repair pods.

To see whether your grass is dead or damaged, check for signs of life beneath the brown canopy and around the edges, like driveways or sidewalks. Any green grass blades peeking through is a good sign that your lawn is alive and can eventually recover. 

You can also gently pull out the rhizomes to assess the roots. If the roots are white and soil clings to the tiny, hairy roots, it’s a sign that there’s still a chance with your grass. Otherwise, you may be dealing with a dead lawn.

For dormant grass, it may be hard to distinguish whether it's dead or dormant. So, you may have to wait until it’s their peak growing season and keep an eye out for new growth.


Diagnose the Problem

Identifying the problem that led to a damaged lawn allows you to address the root cause, preventing a recurrence of similar issues after reinstalling new sod. For example, if pests are the problem, implementing pest control becomes a priority before any corrective measures.

A diagnosis also allows for long-term strategic decisions to create a more sustainable and resilient lawn. For example, if you're dealing with too much sun, you can take proactive measures such as blocking the sunlight or replacing your lawn with low-maintenance ground covers that thrive in such conditions.

A soil test can also help identify what caused the decline of your lawn. It will tell you the nutrients in your soil, or in this case, what it lacks, which will guide you in making the necessary amendments to bring your soil pH to optimal levels and select the proper fertilizer your plants need for successful regrowth.

Give Your Lawn a Fresh Start

Remove rocks and other unnecessary objects from your lawn, including toys and other debris, so they don't get in your way throughout the process. Then, mow your lawn to half its usual height before dethatching. While a thin layer of thatch is good for conserving soil moisture, an excessive thatch buildup blocks air, water, and nutrients from reaching the roots. It can also harbor disease-causing insects and fungi by prolonging high humidity in the soil.

Using a rake will remove excess organic material and aerate the lawn, which will help loosen compacted soil and allow air, water, and fertilizer to penetrate through the soil.

Get Rid of Weeds

Weeds compete with desired plants for sunlight, water, and nutrients, inhibiting their growth. Removing them ensures that your grass has access to these essential nutrients, contributing to a healthier and more aesthetically appealing outdoor environment.

Whether you're repairing damaged lawns or starting anew by installing sod, getting rid of weeds is necessary to ensure that they don't eventually outgrow your grass—it's just that the methods will be different. For example, if you're starting over or removing dead turf, use a non-selective herbicide to kill any remaining vegetation. Conversely, if you only wish to repair damage while preserving existing grass, use a selective post-emergent herbicide tailored to target specific weeds in your lawn. Allow for a few days for the herbicide to take effect before mowing the dead turf again.


Install New Sod or Sod Pods

Now it's time to plant new grass. We recommend laying new sod when more than one-third of your lawn is damaged beyond effective repair. It's also a more practical solution than grass seed if you want to establish a fresh, green lawn immediately.

Additionally, sod is beneficial if you're dealing with soil erosion, poor grass quality, or simply looking to replace your lawn with new grass. Bethel Farms offers a wide range of sod grass including warm-season varieties, Bermuda, St. Augustine, and Zoysia grass.

Transplanting grass plugs is a more cost-effective alternative to establish and repair your lawn. These are small, individual sections of grass, usually 3x3 inches, with established roots that gradually spread and cover your landscape. Grass plugs are particularly effective for filling in sparse areas or repairing dead patches.

Choose grass plugs that match the existing grass in your lawn—the idea is to repair your lawn as if it wasn't damaged. At SodPods, some of our top-performing grass plug varieties are Centipede Grass and Bermuda grass.

Fertilize Your Lawn

Whether you've installed new grass sod or sod plugs, you will want to use a fertilizer to promote root growth and encourage successful establishment. These lawn care solutions go through a stressful period when transferred to a new location, and fertilizing them provides the necessary nutrients to make the transition easier—nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

You can use liquid fertilizer to give your lawn an immediate boost of nutrients, ensuring that the grass receives the nourishment it needs for a healthy start. It aids in establishing a strong root system and helping the sod adapt to the new soil.

Meanwhile, a slow-release granular fertilizer offers distinct advantages over liquid fertilizer. It provides a gradual and sustained release of nutrients over an extended period, promoting more consistent nutrient uptake and uniform grass growth. Our NutriPod® fertiliizer pod is a dedicated grass plug nutrition that provides long-term fertilization, thus reducing the frequency of applications. With its controlled nutrient release, it supports healthier and more sustainable plant growth while also reducing the risks of over-fertilization and nutrient leaching.


Keep Your Soil Moist

As essential as fertilizing your lawn is, it's also crucial to water deeply. For the first two weeks, ensure your soil doesn't go dry. You can gradually reduce your watering afterward as the new grass grows and establishes roots.

Although each type of grass is different, most grass varieties require about 1 to 1¼ inch of water per week. This recommendation includes rainfall, which means if you get a lot of rainfall in your region, you'll probably not need to water your lawn as much.

Mow at a Proper Height

Mowing in the early stages of a new lawn helps promote a dense and uniform growth by encouraging lateral spread and root development. It also helps control weed growth, ensuring the grass receives maximum sunlight and nutrients.

We recommend waiting until the grass is about 3-4 inches tall before mowing for the first time, so you don’t accidentally cut off too much of the grass blade, which is critical for photosynthesis and overall growth.

After the initial mowing, follow a regular mowing schedule to maintain the look of a healthy, well-manicured lawn. How often you mow your grass depends on the grass type and its growing conditions. But a good rule is to mow when the grass reaches about 3.5-4 inches in height. Read here for more tips on choosing between a reel mower and a rotary mower.

Final Tips

Restoring a damaged lawn is a multi-faceted approach that involves addressing the problem, identifying soil issues, installing new sod, or replacing dead patches with new grass plugs. It also necessitates an ongoing commitment to supplement your lawn with the essential nutrients to nurture the soil and foster a fully established, lush green space.

Whether you're dealing with the aftermath of damage or transforming an old lawn, the key lies in comprehensive care—and the reward is a vibrant, healthy lawn, which makes all the effort worthwhile.


Jamie Tedder

Jamie surrently serve as Vice President on the board for Turfgrass Producers of Florida. He currently oversees the production of all grasses throughout all farms in Florida at Bethel Farms. He is actively working with top grass breeders, researchers, producers and end users from public and private institutions around the country to stay up to date on current industry developments. Being a University of Florida graduate, he has applied that knowledge to over 22 years of experience growing spectacular grass!

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