What causes thin, patchy grass?

Gardens & Landscapes October 10, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

Thin grass is often a sign that;

  • a lawn has not had enough fertilizer or water,
  • the soil is too compacted,
  • there is too much wear and traffic on the lawn, or
  • the lawn has a disease or insect problem.

It is important to first diagnose the cause of the thinning lawn and proceed from there. Pest problems are usually the least common reason for a thin lawn, while improper fertilizing, watering or mowing are the most common reasons. Excessive traffic from children or pets is another common cause. Once the cause has been determined and treated, routine lawn management will thicken the grass back up. The process can be shortened if the thin areas are aerated and over-seeded with a good quality seed. For more information please see PlantTalk script 1509, Patchy lawn.

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.