How To Fix Grass That Has Been Driven On And Damaged

Someone drove on my lawn!

One wrong turn, and now the grass is damaged.

What Can I Do To Repair It?

Whether lawn damage comes from a careless driver or construction equipment, it can feel daunting to repair.  It may be tempting just to put additional grass seed in the rut, but there will still be compacted soil underneath.

Tools for The Job

  • Garden spade
  • Spade Fork
  • Sod knife (optional)
  • Grass seed, compost, and/or sand
  • Garden hose or watering can

When to Fix Lawn Ruts

Tire damage can’t be fixed just any time of the year. It’s best to wait until the grass is in a growth spurt to remove tire ruts. This is usually in the late spring or early fall, depending on the climate and the grass.

  • Warm season grasses include Bermuda, Buffalo, Bahia, Saint Augustine, and Zoysia grasses. These usually have a growth spurt in the late spring.
  • Cool season grasses include Kentucky Bluegrass, Fine Fescue, and Tall Fescue. It’s best to wait to repair ruts until they have their growth spurt in the early fall.

How to Fix Ruts In Your Yard

Shallow ruts are 1-3 inches deep. They are usually caused by a car or a mower. Always mowing in the same direction can cause shallow ruts. You can avoid these kinds of tracks by switching directions in your mowing pattern. Mowing when the ground is wet can also cause ruts.

1.   Loosen the soil

Find the edge of the tire marks. Loosen the soil by placing a shovel or spade fork at a 45-degree angle into the rut. Since the rut is shallow, there is no need to dig very far.

2.   Lift the soil

Lift the soil until it is an inch or two above the existing grass. Carefully allow it to settle. This should fix a minor rut.

How to Fix Lawn After Construction

Construction Ruts and Damage

Lawn depressions that are deeper than 3-4 inches can be more complicated to repair. These kinds of tracks are usually caused by heavy machinery or a car driving through a wet yard.

1.   Remove the grass

Use a shovel to cut the edges of the sod and dig up any grass in the rut. A sod knife may be used, if available. Make sure to include the roots. If the sod is in good shape, carefully set it aside to use later.

It may be tempting to use a lawn roller to level the yard, but that will only compact the ground more.

2.    Loosen the soil

Use a spade fork to lift and loosen the compacted soil in the rut. The same 45-degree angle method mentioned above will work!

3.   Fill the rut

Use topsoil to fill the rut for an even better result, and use equal parts of soil, compost, and sand. Using a soil, compost, and sand mixture will ensure that the grass sends its roots deep into the existing ground. Fill the new soil to 1-2 inches above the existing soil level.

4.   Grow grass

If the sod removed earlier is still intact, simply flip it back over the new soil. If there are sparse areas, or if the sod is damaged, it’s time to plant new grass. Make sure to use the same kind of grass seed that is in the rest of the lawn. A patch of different grass will stand out and look strange!

Water the area well every day. If there is still a depression after a few weeks, use a spade to gently lift the grass area again. New soil can be added underneath the sod to raise the depressed area.