How to Fix Burned Grass

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Grass burned with fertilizer requires repair or replacement.
Grass burned with fertilizer requires repair or replacement. (Image: Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Most homeowners dream of a lush, green lawn with a thick carpet of healthy grass. The reality can be much different, however, for those inexperienced in lawn care. Yellow patches of burned grass are the result of incorrect applications of chemical fertilizer. Sometimes the damage is permanent, and sometimes it's superficial, but burned grass requires corrective action to restore the health and appearance of the lawn.

Things You'll Need

  • Metal rake
  • Leaf rake
  • Rototiller
  • Lawn aerator or spiked aerator sandals
  • Fresh grass seed or sod
  • Seed spreader
  • Water source
  • Mulch

Assess the damage. When you apply fertilizer incorrectly and find a yellowed lawn the next day, you need to take quick action. Using a metal rake, rake up a section of yellow grass. Pull up a grass plant by the crown and look at the plant crown and roots. If they are healthy and moist, the burn probably affected plant tops only. If the crown and roots are shriveled and browned or yellowed, the damage has killed the grass completely.

Rake the yellowed grass from the affected area, removing it to an active compost pile or bagging it up as yard waste.

Water the affected area well to leach away excess fertilizer before replanting--whether the grass plants were just superficially burned or totally killed.

Prepare the area for new grass. Plow grass that is dead, using the rototiller to prepare the soil for reseeding or sodding. Aerate grass that is only superficially burned by using an aerating machine.

Lay sod on newly tilled soil or spread seed with the seed spreader. Cover with grass mulch or finely chopped straw.

Water the newly planted sod or grass seed thoroughly and every morning for at least a week.

Tips & Warnings

  • Reseed or place sod using the same type of grass growing in the surrounding lawn.
  • Avoid fertilizing the new grass for at least three months until well established.
  • Do not mow new grass until it is well established and at least 2 inches high.

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