How to seed a patchy lawn

Updated February 16, 2017

Those bald patches in your lawn are unsightly, but simple to fix. Before planting any seed, though, consider why the area is bare. Perhaps that area gets high traffic from playing kids or your dog uses the area as a toilet. Look into grass seed developed for soccer fields that can stand up to your little athletes. If the bare patch is caused by disease or pests, consult your local garden centre to identify the culprit and find a solution before planting any seed.

Spread 2.5 cm (1 inch) of compost over the soil. Cultivate the soil lightly by raking it to remove dirt clods and loosen it. Work the compost into the soil as you rake.

Place grass seed in the spreader, according to packet directions, and walk across the bare spot, spreading the seed. Work in rows, following a back and forth pattern. Repeat the process, walking at a right angle to your original rows. For areas 1.8 metres (6 feet) in diameter or smaller, broadcast seed by hand by measuring out the recommended amount of seed and tossing it gently.

Rake the seed gently into the soil so it is covered by 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) of soil. Apply a 5 cm (2 inch) layer of weed-free hay or other lightweight, natural mulch.

Apply a granular fertiliser designed for new lawns according to packet directions. Water the grass for 10 minutes after application.

Water your newly seeded lawn three to four times per day for 10 minutes per cycle. Adjust your watering schedule for rainy or very hot weather. Continue this schedule for two to three weeks until the grass is about 2.5 cm (1 inch) high. Thereafter, water two to three times per week, allowing 30 minutes per cycle.

Mow your new grass when it is 7.5 cm (3 inches) high to a length of 5 cm (2 inches). Use a sharp blade to avoid ripping the roots out of the ground. Thereafter, mow your lawn weekly along with the rest of the lawn.


Choose a grass seed similar to what you already have growing in your lawn. If you're not sure, take a sample to a local nursery specialist who can identify it for you.

The best time to plant seed is in early autumn, after most weeds have died off and temperatures aren't so hot. Spring is also a good time for planting.

If your soil is compacted and hard, hire an aerator to aerate the soil.

For large bare areas, you may even want to till the soil and rake it before planting seed. Make a barrier from chicken wire and stakes around the newly seeded grass to keep children and pets off it until it germinates.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Grass seed
  • Seed spreader
  • Rake
  • Hose
  • Hay
  • Lawnmower
  • Fertiliser (for newly started lawns)
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About the Author

Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."