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How to Plant Grass Seed in Bare Spots [7 Quick Steps]

To reseed a bare spot in your lawn, begin by using a rake to remove dead grass and loosen the soil in the area. Next, spread a thin layer of natural compost over the bare spot. Then, hand-spread seeds over the area until you have even coverage with several seeds per square inch. Once you’re done spreading the seeds, lightly rake the compost of the seeds to cover them. Follow this up by providing liquid fertilizer and twice-daily water to make sure you grow healthy grass sprouts. Finally, continue to water and keep all foot traffic off the new grass until it’s tall enough to mow.

How to plant grass seed in bare spots

When Should You Add Seed to Bare Spots in Your Lawn?

Seeding bare spots in your lawn works best if you seed in spring or fall. Seeding your lawn in summer can dry out grass seedlings quickly and kill them, while seeding in winter is rarely effective unless you use this surprising dormant seeding technique. When planning to spread grass seed in bare spots, keep these facts in mind:

  • Warm-season grasses grow best when seeded in spring.
  • Examples of warm-season grasses include Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede, and Buffalo grass.
  • Cool-season grass seed grows best when planted in fall.
  • Common cool-season grasses include Kentucky Bluegrass, Ryegrass, and Fescue.

Although it’s best to seed warm season grasses in spring and cool season grasses in fall, you may not want to wait several seasons before you start filling in those bare areas. Thankfully, you can seed any grass type in spring or fall. It will just take some extra encouragement to get your grass to sprout. Our bare spot seeding method will make this easy.

How Much Grass Seed Do You Need for Bare Spots?

For most grass seed types, you will need 1–2 pounds (½–1 kilo) of seed for every 1,000 square feet (90 sq meters) of bare ground. This number can vary based on the type of grass seed because some grass seeds are very small, while other grasses produce larger, heavier seeds.

  • Spread between 1 and 2 pounds of grass seed for every 1,000 square feet of bare ground.
  • Exact amounts vary based on the grass type you are growing, since grass seeds range from tiny and light, to large and heavy.
  • For smaller bare areas, spread grass seed until you can clearly see the seeds in every inch of the bare spot.

For the best coverage, review the seeding rates on the grass seed packaging. Use the higher seeding rate recommended for bare ground or new lawns, not the lower number meant for overseeding. If you are seeding a small bare patch, sprinkle seed until there are 5–10 seeds per square inch.

7 Steps to Successfully Grow Grass Seed in Bare Spots

Simply tossing some grass seed onto the bare ground and hoping it will grow will not help to recover bare spots in your lawn. You need to give your new grass seed a jump start that will fill in problem areas. Here’s how to do it:

Loosen Soil

Attack the bare spot in your soil with a garden rake, hoe, or a garden cultivator. The goal is to loosen and aerate the top 2–3 inches (5–7.5 cm) of soil. While loosening the soil, pull out any weeds and dead grass. This soil preparation makes it easy for your new grass seeds to take root and start pulling their own nutrients and water from the soil.

Layer Compost

Spread this compost over the bare area of your lawn. The compost layer should be ½-inch (1 cm) thick. Compost is great at protecting seeds and providing them with a jumpstart. Compost retains moisture, which promotes higher grass seed germination rates. Organic compost is also chock full of nutrients that help grass seeds survive the delicate early stages of life.

Spread Seed

Spread seed evenly over the bare area, on top of the compost. You can spread seed by hand if the area is small, but if there is a large bare spot, it’s better to use this seed spreader. Although it’s a good idea to use the seeding rates on the bag of grass seed, this can be difficult to calculate for small areas. Instead, spread the seed evenly over the compost. Once you have uniform coverage with 5–10 grass seeds for every square inch (6 square centimeters), you’ve spread enough grass seed.

Cover Seed

Use your garden rake to gently cover the grass seed with the compost you spread in the previous step. The compost and seed should be mixed and the seeds should be covered by no more than ¼-inch (6 mm) of compost. It’s okay if some seeds are visible, as long as most are covered. This step will create the perfect environment for grass seed and protect your seed from scavenging birds.

Apply Liquid Fertilizer

Apply this liquid fertilizer immediately after you cover the seed. This will water your new grass seed and provide additional nutrients. Liquid lawn starter fertilizer gives new grass plants the essential nutrients they need to grow healthy roots. Granular fertilizers are not advised for new seed since they take some time to break down and start feeding the soil.

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Water Frequently

Lightly water the bare area to moisten the soil in the morning and evening, to help grass grow back in a bare area. Then, continue watering twice daily until the grass seeds begin to sprout. Then, you can gradually reduce watering to once daily, and finally, twice per week. For an exact schedule for watering new grass, check out our complete guide to watering new grass seed.

Keep Off the Grass

It is essential to prevent humans and animals from walking on the newly seeded portions of your lawn for 3–4 weeks after seeding. New grass is very delicate and can be killed by heavy foot traffic and other regular use. If necessary, put a temporary barrier around the grass as you keep the soil moist and encourage healthy growth. Then, look for these signs that your new grass is ready to be mowed for the first time.

How Do You Get Grass to Grow Back in Bare Spots?

In order to get grass seed to take root and grow in bare areas of your lawn, you should:

  • Use a rake or cultivator to loosen the soil in the bare area.
  • Spread a ½-inch (1 cm) layer of compost over the soil.
  • Evenly spread grass seed over the area, until there are several grass seeds per square inch.
  • Rake the compost and seeds so that the seeds are lightly covered.
  • Apply liquid fertilizer immediately after seeding, to give your grass seeds a growth boost.
  • Continue watering twice daily until grass seeds sprout. Then, gradually reduce the watering frequency.
  • Prevent foot traffic on the grass and wait 4 weeks to mow the new grass sprouts.

These simple steps will yield an abundance of new grass. By preparing the soil, protecting the grass, and providing ample fertilizer and water, you can reclaim dead spots in your yard.

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