Bio Green Outdoor Services, LLC Lawn Care & Sprinkler Learning Center (703) 450-0034

It’s really upsetting to see bare spots in your beautifully manicured lawn. Bare spots can be caused by a variety of factors, so it’s important to get to the root of the problem before you take action. Read below for some common bare spot causes and solutions, and basic instructions on repairing bare spots.

Potential Causes of Bare Spots in Your Turf

Cause: Pet urine

Household pets, such as dogs and cats, generally have high nitrogen levels in their urine, which can cause burn spots in your lawn after they go to the bathroom.

Solution: There are several options to prevent pet urine from damaging your lawn, including changes to your pet’s diet, training your pet to “go” elsewhere, and watering the lawn after the pet goes to the bathroom. Read more about preventing lawn damage due to pet urine here.


Cause: Snow mold

Snow mold is a type of fungus that is caused by heavy snowfalls that trap moisture under the pressure of the snow. Although uncommon in the D.C. area, we have seen it occur when there has been a significant snowfall in the region.

Solution: After the snow is gone, rake the affected areas to help the grass grow out of the disease. If bare spots are still visible, overseeding will be necessary. Snow mold can also be prevented by applying a fungicide in the fall, though that isn’t generally needed in the D.C. area.


Cause: Heavy foot traffic

Grass is a plant and although it is designed to handle some traffic, constant heavy walking will damage your turf. If people don’t know that you’d like them to stay off the grass, there is a simple fix.

Solution: Creating a clear path to your home’s entryway will encourage people to follow the path instead of walking on the grass. To do this, you can define the path by installing a sidewalk, stepping stones, spreading gravel or planting flowers.


Cause: Grubs

Grubs are common pests found in turfgrass throughout much of the U.S. They reside just below the soil surface and feed on the root system, causing turf injury.

Solution: Investing in preventative grub control is often the best option. Having your lawn care provider apply a selective, systemic insecticide in June will be enough to prevent damage. If you experience a grub infestation, curative pesticides—carbaryl and trichlorfon—can be used to kill a grub at any stage of its life cycle.  


Cause: Chemical spills

Chemicals such as fertilizers and gasoline can cause the worst damage to your lawn if accidentally spilled.

Solution: If a solid fertilizer is spilled onto your lawn, try to remove as many of the particles as possible with a broom or rake. If a liquid fertilizer or other chemical is spilled, hose the area down immediately (only do so if this follows the instructions provided by the chemical manufacturer). This will dilute the chemical and help prevent major damage.


Cause: Thatch

Thatch is a tightly interwoven layer of living and dead grass stems and roots lying between the soil surface and green grass leaves in established lawns. It can cause bare spots on your lawn when it builds-up, creating a barrier between the grass blades and the soil.

Solution: Dethatching can be completed with several options, including power raking or core aeration. Read more about Bio Green’s preferred dethatching methods here.


Cause: De-icing chemicals

De-icing products often consist of harsh and abrasive chemicals that can be damaging to your lawn, including liquid treatments and salts.  

Solution: If your lawn has been burned by de-icing chemicals, you will need to overseed when the weather permits. In the meantime, try to flush the area with water near the time of the spill.


Cause: Buried rocks or other debris

Buried rocks or other debris can act as a barrier between the top, green grass level and the soil level, preventing the grass blades from getting the proper nutrients.

Solution: Remove the rock or debris by digging it out. Filling the area with topsoil (depending on the size of the rock/debris) and overseeding will be necessary.


Cause: Drainage issues

Standing or uncontrolled runoff water can cause serious damage to your lawn, including soil erosion, foundation damage and mold.

Solution: The first step to fixing drainage-related bare spots is investing in a drainage solution that will redirect or contain rogue water, preventing further damage. The second step is overseeding the area and growing back your lush lawn.


Cause: Shaded Lawn Areas

When areas of your lawn are not receiving the proper amount of sunlight, they may start to become bare.

Solution: Turf in shady areas can be difficult to manage, as there are multiple steps to take to revitalize the damaged area, such as proper pruning of shrub and tree cover, specific watering techniques and nutrient supplementation. For more information on shady lawn care, click here.


Repair Options

Most causes of bare spots will require you to reseed the spot to make it flush with the rest of your lawn. It’s important to remember that proper preparation must be taken and that overseeding is best done in the fall in the Northern Virginia area.

Prepare the area

Conduct a soil test to determine the proper levels of nutrients and fertilizer that will be needed to grow healthy grass. Bio Green uses the Virginia Tech Soil Lab for all soil testing. Additionally, it is important to remove any weeds and dead grass from the area prior to taking the soil sample.

Plant the seeds

Ensure you are using the same type of seed as was used for the rest of your lawn for a uniform appearance Be sure not to go too heavy on the seed and follow the seed bag’s recommendation for coverage. Properly planting all seed in the soil will encourage better root development.

Water the area

For best germination results, lightly water every other day until uniform germination. After germination, water daily for another two weeks. Remember that too much water can cause poor germination and seedling disease. As the lawn continues to grow, decrease the frequency of watering and increase the amount of water used per watering.

Wait to mow

New seedlings need time to grow and strengthen before you mow the area. Bio Green recommends you wait until the area is at least three inches tall before you mow.


If your lawn has fallen victim to unsightly bare spots for which you cannot determine a cause, Bio Green strongly recommends you contact your lawn care professional to help you find the cause and an appropriate solution.

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