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Your lawn is often the first impression anyone visiting or driving by your home will notice and we know you want to make a great first impression.

Patchy grass is a combination of thin turf and bare spots that wreak havoc on your lawn’s appearance.

We are about to tell you what causes patchy grass and how to repair your patchy lawn.  If you need help or have a question, don’t hesitate to contact us if you are in the Spokane, Spokane Valley, or Liberty Lake area.

Patchy Grass Topics We’ll Cover

If you’re spending most of your early days scouring the internet, looking for lawn disease pictures or instructions on how to fix patchy grass, or if your searches have become increasingly desperate from “dead patches in lawn” to “how to fix brown patch in lawn” to “how to fix a dead lawn,” it may be time to hire a professional lawn care company that specializes in identifying lawn problems! At Spokane’s Finest Lawns, we know how to address your lawn care needs.

Dead Spot in Lawn

What causes patchy grass?

There are a variety of reasons for patchy grass.  It is important to diagnose why your lawn is having trouble growing grass in certain areas before attempting to repair them.

9 Common Causes of Bare Spots in a Lawn

Urine from pets

A common reason for brown spots in the grass is urea burn from animal urine. These brown spots are often ringed by green, healthy grass.


The larvae of Japanese Beetles burrow in the ground and eat the roots of the grass. If your grass lifts easily in patches, this could be the cause.

Fungus or turf disease

In moist conditions, fungal diseases that thrive with moisture can begin to grow and spread. Webbing or spotting on the blades may mean that you have a fungus problem.

Too much thatch

Grass turning brown despite watering? When organic material builds up between the grass and the ground, it makes it hard for water to get to the roots of the grass.

Compacted soil

If your soil has become hard, grass may have a hard time growing and getting air, water, and nutrients. Heavy foot or wheel traffic might lead to compaction.

Not enough or too much fertilizer

Not enough fertilizer can mean the grass lacks nutrients, while too much fertilizer can burn the grass.

Too much shade

In shady spots, where the grass doesn’t get much sun, it may become thin and patchy.

Not enough water

In drought, grass can become dormant. If sprinklers consistently miss a patch of grass, it may also become brown with lack of water.

Foot traffic/things left on the lawn

A strip of grass you often walk on, or a place where something rested on the grass for an extended period of time can leave you with dead patches.

Seeding Bare Spots in Lawn

How to repair a patchy lawn

At the end of the day, if your lawn has bare spots or thin spots, re-seeding those areas is going to be necessary.  When you re-seed all or large portions of an existing lawn, it is referred to as overseeding.

The steps to overseed your lawn largely remain the same no matter what, but there are a couple of things you will want to consider below too.

To successfully repair the spots in your lawn, you will need to do these things no matter what:

  1. Prepare the soil by scratching the surface and removing debris
  2. Sow the correct type of grass seed
  3. Water and keep moist for a minimum of 3 weeks

Do any of these factors need to be addressed before seeding?

Depending on why you have bare spots in the first place, there may be some additional steps you need to take to have success patching those bare spots.

If your lawn has urine spots, you can speak with your veterinarian about options or walk your dogs off your lawn before allowing them to pee.

If you had grubs, you will need to eliminate the grubs before re-seeding.  You will also need to do this so the grubs don’t also kill more of your lawn!

If you have turf disease or fungus, you will need to apply the proper fungicide at the correct rate over a specific period of time to eliminate this from affecting the new grass you will plant.

If you have too much thatch or compacted soil, aerating is the ticket for your success.

If your lawn has too much or little fertilizer, we feel our lawn treatment program is the best in Spokane Valley, we’d love to handle this service for you.  Contact the Spokane County Extension Office for fertilization guidelines.

If your lawn gets too much shade, cutting down or at least removing branches so sunlight can reach the lawn may be your only answer.  You can also try a seed variety that does well in shade like a creeping fescue.

If your lawn isn’t getting enough water you will simply have to supplement rainfall by watering. 

Leaves Smothering Grass

How to keep your lawn free of bare spots

Once you have identified the cause of the patchy grass in your lawn, performed any pre-seeding preparations needed as recommended above, and re-seeded the bare spots, it’s time to keep it that way!

We will cover the basic lawn care best practices below, but before we get into that, let’s talk about a couple of lawn maintenance best practices that will help immensely.  

Proper lawn maintenance is needed for a perfect lawn

Over and beyond everything else we’ve already discussed in this article, we still have some best practices to keep in mind.

Proper lawn mowing plays a large role in the health and appearance of your lawn.  Since we are focusing on repairing patchy lawns, we won’t go into great detail here.

The most important things to know include:

  • Keep your lawn mower blades sharp
  • Remove build-up from the underside of your lawn mower’s deck
  • Never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade each time you mow
  • Raising your mower deck creates healthier lawns (This does not apply to some warm-season grass varieties)
  • Change up your mowing pattern
  • Don’t let leaves or other yard debris sit on your lawn for extended periods of time
Lawn Under Stress

Best lawn care practices for a healthy lawn

Specifically, regarding lawn care, a lawn treatment program, and aerating your lawn goes a long way to reducing or eliminating patches in your lawn.

These are things some homeowners like to handle themselves, but the overwhelming majority of them prefer to leave these tasks to lawn care professionals. 

There really is a lot to know if you plan on treating your lawn with fertilizer, herbicides, and possibly fungicides.  If you are the DIY type, we encourage you to really dive into the science behind proper lawn care.

DIY aerating is not an option for many homeowners as you would need a truck, trailer, or large SUV to even be able to rent an aerating machine.  Aerating a lawn is also very hard on your body.

Have us keep your lawn beautiful

Spokane’s Finest Lawns is a locally owned and operated lawn care and lawn maintenance company in Spokane, Washington.  We service Spokane, Spokane Valley, and Liberty Lake.

Jose has perfected our lawn care program.  We like to think it is the most comprehensive lawn care program available in the entire Spokane Valley area and many of our clients agree.

If you are looking for a lawn care company you can trust, we’d love a shot at earning your business.  Call, text, or email us anytime to get started.  You can also complete any contact form on our website.

We hope to hear from you soon.  Best of luck repairing your lawn!

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