The Top Three Reasons Most Lawn Repairs Fail

Repairs are commonplace following the winter period as lawns can struggle due to waterlogging, frost damage and excessive shade. Add un-cleared leaves to the mix and a lawn that hasn't been cared for throughout the winter will be starting the spring in need of repair. 

With this, spring can be the time for lawn repairs - however that doesn't mean they are always successful! Here are the top 3 reasons that we see lawn repairs fail – this is what you should be avoiding at all costs!

1. A Lack of Seed to Soil Contact

Grass is like any other plant in that it must be in contact with the soil to germinate. If grass seed is scattered on the lawn surface a lawn repair will fail and the seed may become bird feed! The soil must be disturbed adequately via aeration, scarification or manual methods such as forking or raking to create a ‘tilth’. With the soil surface loose, or with holes for the seed to fall into, seeding can be successful if then gently brushed into the surface.

An additional method to ensure success is following scarifying, aerating (even if on a small scale) and overseeding, is to top-dress the area. Top dressing is simply using a finely screened soil to cover over the seed, planting it just beneath the surface. This only needs to be a dusting of soil to ensure good soil contact.

Another alternative method would be to use a light garden roller. This will press the seed into the soil to achieve the desired soil contact for your lawn repair. There is more to lawn repairs than simply throwing seed around and hoping for magic!

Left: A selection of lawn aeration images - ideal work before any repairs! Double-pass aeration is included as standard on all of our Lawn Repair and Renovation calls. 

A selection of lawn aeration images - ideal preparation for lawn repairs

2. A Lack of Water...

Grass is like any other plant, requiring water, light, air and the correct temperature to thrive. Something that is often forgotten about for lawn repairs is water.

Newly sown grass seed must be kept damp. The seed will not germinate until it has absorbed sufficient water to start the process. This is often more water than many think, but it does vary with the seasons.

During the autumn, rainfall is often abundant! With shorter days, evaporation is much less. We find that our autumn lawn renovations need no watering whatsoever from the customer! Late September and October rainfall in the West Midlands, combined with some damp, dewy morning starts will be enough to help seed through within 7-14 days in most instances. We time all of our biggest and most important lawn repair and renovation work for August and September for this guaranteed success.

If speed of germination is important to you, them watering your lawn repair once or twice per day is recommended. Don’t ‘flood’ the area as the seed will struggle to take this level of water up, and may only lead to the seed rotting in waterlogged soil. Water little and often to give the seed the chance to take up this much needed water.

During the spring and summer seasons, watering will be required without doubt. Lawn repairs at this time will be more labour intensive on yourself because of this. If there is rainfall that day then you can take the day off – otherwise, water 1-2 times per day for 10 -14 days.

A Lack of Soil Warmth (or Patience!) 

Top-rated professional seed mixes can germinate in soil temperatures as low as 5c… however with the right planning we shouldn’t be putting this to the test anyway with our lawn repairs. It is good to know however that ‘winter’ germination is possible if in mild spells if you fancy a gamble!

During the months of February, March and April, the soil temperature in the West Midlands often sits between 5 and 10c. While a lawn repair is possible, expect germination to be slow – taking up to 3 weeks. Along with this, consider the amount of watering that is going to be required during this time.

If your lawn repair is something quite significant, you may be tempted to wait until late April by which time warmer conditions will either be with us, or only a few days away.

It is very difficult to predict the seasons – every year is different. Germination in previous years has been possible during February, with 15-18c temperatures and March rainfall!

If carrying out a lawn repair away from the autumn patience will be required along with ample watering.

These are by far the top three reasons why lawn repairs fail. If you can keep these in mind when planning your repair, carrying out the work and the aftercare of your newly sown seed, then your chances of success are greatly improved!

A soil probe recording temperature and pH in a mossy lawn

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