Dry patches on lawn are immediately noticeable. They are unsightly. Why are they there in the first place? How to treat dry patches? Having a beautiful lawn is a great way to enjoy the aroma of freshly cut grass throughout the summer months.
Below are the common reasons for dry patches in your lawn, how to remove them and, possibly even more importantly, how to avoid them.
What Causes Dry Patches on the Lawn?
Dogs urinating or other animals urinating
Dog urine is usually the number one reason for finding dry or brown patches on your lawn.
Basically, a dog’s urine contains a very high concentration of nitrogen. This, in turn, causes nitrogen scorch.
Mowing too much in one cut
If you’ve not mowed for a while and have let your lawn get pretty long, then there’s a chance that the lower part of the grass blade has been getting fewer nutrients. Mainly because the longer the blade, the more it needs to stay strong.
Therefore, when you mow right down to the soil in one cut, you are likely to see dry or brown patches below.
Uneven application of lawn feed
If you use lawn feed regularly, be aware of how much nitrogen it contains. Nitrogen is great for the lawn when used correctly. However, if you spread fertilizer unevenly, then it’s likely that parts of the grass will get too much nitrogen and thereby create nitrogen scorch.
As The Relentless Gardener will tell you – Measure your area of application, weigh out the correct amount based on the application rate, then evenly spread it out by hand or using a spreader.
Don’t worry though if the patches are only light brown and not too dry, then your grass should recover itself after a few cuts.
Too much (quick release) Nitrogen Fertilizer
Now that you know the fertiliser has to be spread evenly, it’s time to get a little more complex. Basically, there are 2 different types of nitrogen you can get – slow release or quick release. Quick release gives a burst of growth over a short time period.
Slow release nitrogen breaks down over the course of 3 months and will feed the soil during that time. Slow release is much better during dry conditions, where as quick release is much more likely to scorch the lawn.
How to Fix Dry Patches on Lawn
Waiting for Dry Patches to Grow Out
It’s the least physical, but the one with the longest lead time is waiting for them to grow out. This will only work though if the grass is not completely dead.
For example, if you have a slight nitrogen scorch, then chances are they will grow out after a couple of mows.
Rake out Then Apply Seed.
This is the most physical option but possibly the most rewarding too. It can take some time for the seed to grow but you’ll have some fresh new grass to mull over once you’re done.
The first thing to do is to rake out all the dry grass so you can get right down to the soil. It’s the seed-to-soil contact that makes all the difference when it comes to seed germination.
Then once you’ve cleared the area, apply a sprinkle of seed. Water the seed into the soil and optionally apply a layer of compost or top-soil to cover the seed. One of the other benefits of this is to hide it from the birds.
If you don’t apply a top dress, then make sure you rake the seed into the soil. You can even tread into the soil and you won’t damage it but you will help it get that seed-to-soil contact.
Consider Using Organic Lawn Fertilizer
Are there alternatives to synthetic fertilizers? How can you get a lush and healthy lawn without all those pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals? Luckily, seasoned gardeners know an effective and, more importantly, safe solution, it’s an organic lawn fertilizer!
Ways to Avoid Dry Patches
No matter how much you try, sometimes you might feel like it’s impossible to avoid dry or brown patches. Here are a couple of ways.
Train your pup & water down the urine
Training your furry friend can make all the difference. You could use a ‘pee post’ in one corner of the garden so your dog can get used to using that when he or she needs to.
During the training period, you could also make sure you water down the urine immediately after it’s been done. That way, you’ll immediately reduce the amount of nitrogen and therefore significantly reduce the chances of a scorched patch
Use a Slow Release ‘Drought-safe’ Lawn Feed or Fertilizer.
The more slow-release fertiliser you use, the lesser the chance of burn happening. This means if you use a product that contains 100% slow release then you’ve practically zero chance of anything going wrong. Even if you apply it during a drought. Whereas the opposite is true for a product containing quick-release, you will get a burst of growth but there’s a much higher chance of scorch, especially when applied during a drought.
The best thing you can do when using any products is to always water them in after application.