The Q&A Archives: Fixing a Thinning Lawn

Question: I have lived at my current home for over 5 years and this is the first year that I've noticed that my lawn is thinning. I fertilize and mow on a regular basis so I don't believe that it's thinning from neglect. I would like to spread grass seed on the existing lawn but I have heard that this isn't very effective. How can I get a thicker lawn without tearing up the sod and starting from scratch?

Answer: First, have your soil tested. Sometimes regular fertilization without testing can cause nutrient and pH imbalances, and can lead to thatch as well. The test results will guide you in taking the right approach.

Thatch is an accumulation of a thick layer of dead stems and roots. It can build up over a period of a few years and choke out a lawn. If soil is healthy and biologically active, dead grass parts will naturally decompose, and thatch won't develop. I don't recommend dethatching by hand, because it's very hard work. You can rent a power dethatcher at most equipment supply outlets.

The quickest and easiest way to thicken your lawn is to overseed with a good quality grass seed mixture. The seeds will sprout in 10-14 days so you'll see almost instant results. (If your lawn has excessive thatch, you should remove it before overseeding.) Continue to water and mow on a regular basis, and apply fertilizer as recommended by your soil test results, and your lawn should grow thick and lush this season.

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