How to Patch a Smothered Lawn

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Ask This Old House landscape contractor Roger Cook reseeds a dead section of lawn and blends it in with the rest of the yard.

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Cost: $150

Skill Level: Moderate

Tools List for Patching a Smothered Lawn:
Gas powered roto-tiller
Broadcast spreader

Shopping List:
Grass seed (based on location)
Starter fertilizer (high in phosphorus)

1. Use the roto-tiller on the smothered soil to loosen it up.
2. Rake the soil to smooth it out.
3. Spread the compost over the soil with a rake.
4. Use the roto-tiller to incorporate the compost with the existing soil. Rake it out smooth again.
5. Load the seed into the broadcast spreader and apply it generously to the soil.
6. Use the back of the rake to gently push the seed into the soil.
7. Load the starter fertilizer into the spreader and apply it to the soil. If doing this wrok in the spring, select a fertilizer that also includes Tupersan to prevent weed seeds from germinating.
8. Apply a top dressing of compost to the rest of the lawn.
9. Add seed to the top dressing for the rest of the lawn a little less generously than before. Use the back of the rake to push the seed into the soil.
10. Add more starter fertilizer to the rest of the lawn.
11. Give the lawn a good watering, roughly twice a day for a few weeks until the grass gets to about 3” tall.

Roger recommended using a roto-tiller to loosen the soil, which can be rented from a home center or tool rental shop.

He then adds compost to boost soil nutrition. In the Northeast, Roger recommends using a seed blend made up of rye, fescue, and bluegrass. When planting a lawn in springtime, Roger uses a starter fertilizer that also contains tupersan to prevent weed seeds from germinating.

All of the supplies and materials for this project can be found at home centers and landscape supply stores.

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