Question: How do I fix my burnt lawn?

By | 11/07/2018
A burnt lawn

I sent this question in June 2018 by a concerned lawn owner. It is a common question which I am asked a lot.

Hi Kris,

A couple of weeks ago I bought a 3 in 1 weed, feed and moss control lawn treatment from the local garden centre. I tried to apply it as per the instructions. However, I haven’t applied it well and it has burnt the lawn in several places. There are also dark stripes over the lawn.

How can I fix this? Thanks.

Donald

Hi Donald,

Thanks for your question. If DIY lawn weed and feed was a good quality product which was easy to apply then I would be out of a job! It is one of the most common lawn complaints I encounter from new customers.

Why do lawns burn?

Home lawn care products in the UK are designed to produce a quick green up. “Get a Lush lawn in seven days” and “quick green up” are their main marketing points. Unfortunately, these quick fix qualities are bad for your lawn. They needs to be very high in nitrogen for them to produce quick results. A high nitrogen fertiliser is very likely to burn the lawn if over-applied. This is compounded by the difficulty in applying these products. Good spreaders are expensive. Granules are difficult to apply without the correct lawn care equipment. Any spills will risk burning the grass.

Fixing a burnt lawn.

If you have burnt your lawn with weed and feed it is very unlikely to recover without some repairing. It is quite an easy fix though. Follow these basic steps:

  1. Prepare the area. Rake the burnt grass out and water the soil well. This is to wash out any product which may remain in the soil. If it particularly bad it may be best to dig the area out and replace with fresh topsoil.
  2. Overseed with fresh grass seed. Sow fresh grass seed at 35g per square meter (about a handful) and rake it into the damaged area. If you would like the area to blend in with the rest of the lawn, overseed into bordering areas too. For a major burn it may be best to re seed the whole lawn. For best results, bury the seed. It needs soil contact to germinate. Burying the grass seed will improve your chances of success.
  3. Keep it watered. After sowing the grass, sprinkle some water over it to wet the area. For the next three weeks keep the area moist and try not to let it dry out. If the weather is hot, watering several times a day may be necessary.
  4. Protect from birds and mice. Grass seed is an easy, tasty treat for small mammals and birds. Cover the seed with netting or enviromesh to reduce losses.
  5. Be patient. Grass seed can take up to ten days to germinate. Even then the new grass can be very thin and difficult to see. Only after it is starting to thicken will the area look like it is disappearing. Try not to mow the repair until the new grass is around 6 inches high. This will enable it to start to put down a good root system before being ready for a cut.

If you follow these easy instructions your burnt lawn will recover in a few weeks.

Professional lawn care

For very bad burns (like the one pictured) the lawn will need to be scarified all over and re-seeded professionally, as spot-repairs will be too difficult. Have a look at my lawn regeneration pages for details.

In future, have a think about contacting your local lawn care technician. Having your lawn cared for by a professional is not expensive and should be under a guarantee for piece of mind.

Thanks for the question. Hope the repair goes well!

Kris Lord
The Lawn Man

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