A thin, patchy lawn isn’t exactly the thick, lush, green oasis folks dream of having in their yards. But how do you fix a thinning lawn?
Will it thicken on its own? The answer is yes, grass can thicken on its own.
That said, some grasses won’t thicken on their own. Some grasses, like St. Augustine, Bermuda, or centipede grass, will creep in and fill bare spots without any help from you.
But in many cases, it’ll need a bit of assistance from you. Sometimes, the assistance comes in the form of more frequent mowing, but in others, it might translate to fertilization or aeration. It all depends on what your lawn is lacking.
Does Frequent Mowing Thicken Grass?
A regular mowing schedule can help thicken your grass. It’s an essential piece of the lawn care puzzle, and without a routine mowing schedule, your grass may begin to suffer and show signs of distress. For example, if the grass becomes too tall, it can block sunlight, water, and essential nutrients from reaching the grass roots, eventually causing thinning and patchiness.
By regularly mowing, you can ensure the grass roots can receive the nutrients they need to thrive. When you cut the grass, you remove the top portion of the blades, stimulating the plant to produce new growth.
Over time, the new growth inspired by regular mowing can result in thicker, healthier grass. However, following the best mowing practices based on your grass species, climate, and other factors specific to your home is essential.
For the most part, you should mow at least once a week during the growing season, as this helps keep your grass at an optimal height and promotes dense, healthy growth. When you mow, taking no more than ⅓ of the total grass height at a time is essential, as cutting the grass too short can leave it susceptible to pests and disease.
Factors that Affect Grass Growth
As you probably figured, maintaining a healthy lawn isn’t as simple as mowing it once a week. Like most living things, grass needs a few essential things to flourish. Here are a few key factors that affect the health and growth rate of your lawn:
Adequate sunlight is essential in growing healthy grass, as your lawn needs a certain amount of sunlight to grow. Of course, different varieties of grass prefer varying amounts of sunlight. Some grasses are more shade tolerant, requiring less sunlight to thrive.
Conversely, some grass varieties require full sun, so any extended period of shade during the day can detrimentally impact their growth. So, it’s important to consider the sunlight needs of your grass type, as too much shade could cause thinning.
If your yard is too shaded and your grass type prefers ample sunlight, consider trimming trees, bushes, or hedges to allow more sunlight to reach the grass.
Water is another critical element of the growth process. If your lawn doesn’t get enough water, it might become thin and patchy, creating an unsightly expanse around your home. In some cases, it might even go dormant, which often happens when there’s not enough water and too much heat.
Watering is essential – most grasses need around one inch of water per week, but needs vary based on the type. In scorching and dry weather, you may need to give your lawn a bit more water for it to thrive.
However, while watering is important, avoid overwatering your lawn. Overwatering can lead to a host of issues, such as drowning the grass or rotting the roots. So, if it rains heavily one day, you might not need too much that week, if at all. Adjust your schedule to adapt to Mother Nature’s plan – if it rains, water less, but if it doesn’t, stay on top of watering.
Grass needs a few crucial nutrients to grow, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. While richer soils may contain some or all of the nutrients your lawn needs, many soils fall short. When your grass doesn’t get enough nutrients, it may become thin, weak, and patchy.
This is where fertilizer comes in. Fertilizers are packed with essential nutrients your grass needs to thrive, so adding them throughout the year is ideal for dense, healthy growth. However, while important, don’t over-fertilize your lawn, as the grass can only absorb so much. The rest may end up in runoff, potentially adding to the environmental concerns.
Ways to Help Grass Thicken
If your lawn is thin and patchy, there are a few things you can do to help it thicken and become more healthy. Here are three effective methods to combat the problem:
Overseeding is an excellent way to thicken your lawn, filling in unsightly bare spots. The process is as simple as adding grass seed to your existing lawn. While there’s a right way to do it, it isn’t overly complicated.
When you overseed your lawn, ensure you choose a suitable type of grass seed for your climate and soil type. Spread the seed evenly over your lawn, focusing on bare patches to ensure thick growth. Once you’re done, cover the tiny seeds with a layer of topsoil or compost, which will protect the seeds and help germination.
Fertilizer plays an essential role in grass health, so fertilizer might be the answer if your grass isn’t doing too great. It can help promote grass growth and thickness by providing essential nutrients, ensuring your grass has the food it needs to thrive.
When selecting a fertilizer, choose one that is high in nitrogen, as this is crucial for healthy grass growth. In addition, make sure to apply the fertilizer at the correct time of year, usually during the spring and fall. Apply the amount the product label recommends and no more, as overfertilizing can have adverse effects.
Grass roots require plenty of oxygen to survive, but when soil compaction occurs over time, the grass may begin to suffer. Compaction can happen for a variety of reasons, such as heavy traffic in the area.
When the soil becomes too compacted, the roots may not have access to the air they need, leading to thinning grass. So, to correct the problem, aerate your lawn. Aeration is the process of poking holes in your lawn, which allows air, water, and nutrients to reach the grass roots easily. Since the roots have what they need to thrive, this results in thicker and healthier grass.
Aeration is usually done in the spring or fall when the grass is actively growing.
You can complete this process in several ways, like using a manual or powered aerator. Generally, these are available for rent at rental centers and lawn and garden stores. Alternatively, you can hire a professional lawn care service to handle the process for you.
Benefits of Having Thick Grass
A dense, healthy lawn looks great and offers multiple environmental benefits. Here are a few ways your lawn can benefit the environment:
- Cleaner air: Lawn grass, unlike solid surfaces like concrete, asphalt, or wood, helps clean the air. It captures air pollutants, including dirt, dust, and allergens, which can improve the air quality around your home.
- Reduced erosion: Thick grass helps keep your soil where it sits, reducing erosion from stormwater runoff. It aids in preventing the soil from washing away and causing damage to nearby bodies of water.
- Improved soil: A thick, healthy lawn can affect the soil structure, as it can increase the amount of organic matter and microorganisms in the soil. This helps improve soil health and fertility, which is beneficial for the other plants in your yard.
- Lower temperatures: Grass can aid in reducing temperatures around your home, as it absorbs heat from the sun and releases it back into the air. This process is called evapotranspiration, and in the sweltering summer months, it can make a difference in keeping your home and yard cooler.