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Question DetailsAsked on 5/25/2014

How do I fix my lawn

My lawn looks terrible. We have warm season grasses and after the long cold winter we now have bare spots and dead grass strips throughout the lawn. I don't know how to fix it or what type of company I should call to work on it.

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4 Answers


Proper watering and fertilizing is necessary - check out the Cooperative Extension Service website for your state - they almost always have lawn care booklets on-line.

Sounds to me like overdone or erratic fertilizing or weed killer - the dead grass strips is a dead giveaway something was overdone or underdone, to leave strips of "dead" grass - which may not actually be dead. If you water well (assuming you have not had recent heavy rain) every 3-4 days for 2 weeks and no greening is seen, then likely is dead. This is common with Weed n Feed where people figure if the recommended application rate is good then twice as much is better, and end up killing off their lawn - but overfertilization can do it too. The bare spots could be where the applicator turned around and dumped excess on the ground, or maybe from spot weed spraying ? Brown spots can also be from where dogs wentto the bathroom, overdosingit with nitrogen - but generally those spots green up within a week or two after the rest of the lawn.

For what is needed - get a soil test kit from Cooperative Extension Service or many plant centers and test it to find out if you need fertilizer (and what type) or lime.

For professional help, a Landscaping company should be able to help you, but generally with a bit of reserach and testing and appropriate watering and care, it is almost always a do it yourself type job.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


The first answer wasn't exactly on target. I haven't fertilized the lawn in about 3 years. So over fertilizing can't be the problem. The lawn is bermuda grass in the back and a combination of bermuda and invading centipede grass from a neighbor’s yard in the front. I have used week killers (both pre and post emergent types) on the lawn and that could be the problem except that my neighbor on the other side who uses no weed killer (part of his lawn looks like a weed farm) has a bermuda lawn like mine and he has the same dead grass strips and bare spots as I do. I think I’m going to need a professional lawn care company to fix this.

Answered 6 years ago by Guest_93736503


Hmmm - stripes, assuming you mean actually visible strips, are normally caused by one of several things - sort of going to do the laundry list for the benefit of other readers of this question, even though you say you have not weed and feeded for 3 years so those issues are probably not your specific cause:

1) overfertilization or over weedkilling with weed and feed, showing up as stripes that are stressed or killed by excess application (usually by multiple passes over same area). Also shows up commonly as dead half circles or blobs at the end of the spreader passes due to turning the spreader with the "gate" open, and turning in the direction that the drive wheel still turns the agistator and drops chemical on already covered areas, doubling up the dose there. Usually the difference goes away in the second growth year after the application that caused the issue.

2) very narrow strips, due to overlap during application when near the stressing or killing application rate, so the doubled application on the overlap area becomes an overdose. If narrow stripes look much greener and healthier, then means the basic application of fertilizer/lime you did was LESS than it wants.

3) putting sod over ground that has had kill-all herbicide applied to kill weeds and tree shoot volunteers, but no topsoil cover over it, so the sod roots are right in the weed killer.

4) applying sod that has been cut too thin, so much of the root mass is cut off, weakening or even killing the grass mat. If thickness is erratic, you can get stripes or rectangles of weaker grass for many years untill new roots get well established - and if not topsoil under the sod, can show the pattern essentially forever unless fertilized to compensate for the weak structure.

5) mowing too short - "scalping" the lawn, especially when heat or water stressed or in the winter, causing the grass to die due to inadequate green blade area to support growth, or to go dormant because of the stress. If only dormant, spring watering regularly at (depending on species - see info at Scotts or other websites for specifics) typically about 1-2 inches of water every 4-7 days for several weeks (depending on local evaporation rates) will cause dormant or weakened grass to perk up unless its chemistry is way off, so get the soil test done. Basically, for almost any weakened grass, the general recommendation is to let it grow to 3-4 inches before moving, then cut only 1/3 the blade length off in any one mowing, and do not cut shorter than 2-3 inches until fully recovered. With most cool-weather grasses like fescues, cutting shorter than about 2 inches stresses them badly anyway. I know my fine and coarse fescue mix lawn looks far better at 2-3 inches than 1-1/2-2 inches length - neighbors keep asking how I keep it so lush and green.

6) Late fall fertilizing while grass is still growing late in the season, especially with high nitrogen fertilizer like 21-4-4, causes the blades on the grass to accelerate their growth, using up the energy stored in the roots and stems, which then stresses the grass and can cause winter kill.

7) Stripes due to walking "lanes" while hand spraying weed killer, and doubling up one some areas or applying at a heavier rate on certain passes. Tend to be a lot less distinct than stripes due to over-application with a drop spreader or due to sod being cut too thin when originally put down.


You could experiment with water and soil test and adding fertilizer (a general type like 16-16-16 to strengthen roots and stems) or lime if so indicated by soil test - usually about $10-20 including mail-in cost. Or you can get multiple-test kits at garden centers or online at places like Amazon.

Also check your topsoil/root mat thickness - you should have a solid 1-2 inches of "topsoil" for the roots to grow into and to hold moisture - if much of your root mass is concentrated at a thin interface with the native soil, and your native soil is "poor" for growing like clay, sand, weathered bedrock, gravel - then you will need to compensate for the lack of soil with artificial nutrients, and keep the grass longer to preserve the moisture in the root area. Top dressing with additional topsoil during the growing season can also alleviate this shortage of growth medium.

Also check how much thatch you have - the dead cuttings that build up. If you have a dense thatch more than 1/2" or so thick, this inhibits grass greening up and also promotes the roots growing in the thatch rather than the topsoil, which makes your grass much more susceptible to stress from drought and extreme heat or cold, and also from being cut too short.

I would cut up a few divots of soil through the sod and a few inches into the underlying ground from the "dead" strips and also from the nearest good looking areas, and look at the difference in your sod - is one area different grass type, thicker thatch, thin root mass, thinner sod overall, dryer area, on different subgrade materials, etc ?

If DIY'ing does not solve the question for you, you can get a landscaping company to look at it, some plant and garden centers will help you with fertilizing and liming advice and soil testing if you take in a sample (locally owned ones, not box stores), or you could try a lawn treatment service like Chemlawn or TruGreen or similar for a year - though I am not real confident they are much more knowledgeable about lawn care than you can become with a bit of reading and soil test.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD


Sounds like spring dead spot or winter kill. Rake out all of the bare spots,grass strips etc.then apply a 1 half inch layer of play sand or morter sand. Keep this area watered but not overwatered and you should start seeing stolon growth within a month.if it is spring dead spot,it will need treated by a fungicide labeled for that disease. Will need to treat entire lawn since fungal spores have translocated through-out lawn. Once treated follow the top dressing procedures mentioned above

Answered 5 years ago by kstreett

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