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I had a tree taken down and the stump ground up. I cleared a majority of the tree mulch and laid top soil, seeded, and put some hay on top. It's been a couple of weeks and the grass is growing in really patchy. It looks pretty bad. It's been extremely hot lately, so I'm thinking it's probably not getting enough water.

My question is: should I rake up the hay, dig up what's currently there, and start from scratch? Or should I seed on top of the existing patchy grass? (I'll be sure to water more often this time around.)

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migrated from diy.stackexchange.com Aug 1 '11 at 23:08

This question came from our site for contractors and serious DIYers.

    
@Rob Sobers, do you have a cool-season or a warm-season lawn? I would guess a cool-season lawn since you're seeding, but that is no guarantee... –  Mike Perry Aug 30 '11 at 15:11
    
@Mike I believe I have a cool-season lawn (I live in the northeast) –  Rob Sobers Aug 31 '11 at 14:01
    
seeing as you're that far North New York, NY I agree. It would be highly unlikely to have a warm-season that far North... "aphoria" answer is a good one (IMHO). Personally, I believe now through Sept is the perfect time to reseed a cool-season lawn. Instead of straw, I use a ½inch (12.5mm) thick layer of compost to cover the seed... –  Mike Perry Aug 31 '11 at 15:05
    
additionally you may find my lawn care procedure worth a read... –  Mike Perry Aug 31 '11 at 15:14

4 Answers 4

up vote 12 down vote accepted

I would continue to water it, but not do anything else until you get cooler weather.

Then, in the fall or spring...

  • Rake it a bit to loosen the soil
  • Put down more seed
  • Cover with straw, but not too thick
  • Water
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If it's just starting to grow and coming in patchy, just give it time. It will probably fill in. If after two months it's still offensively patchy, sprinkle more grass seed on the patchy bits.

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2  
+1. Loosen up the bare dirt too, if it's become compacted and hard in the meantime. –  Niall C. Jul 31 '10 at 13:13
    
Scott's EZ Seed is also great stuff –  Jeff Widmer Jul 31 '10 at 14:12
1  
+1. And, keep watering... –  Jeremy McGee Jul 31 '10 at 15:49

If you only seeded your lawn, it could also be that the local wildlife (aka birds) have come in and swiped some of your seeds, despite the hay.

Another option you could try, along with the seeding, is to take small "plugs" from other parts of the yard and plant them in the spot you're trying to grow. This has the benefit of taking established grass with roots and putting it in a new spot. The spot where you took the plug from will regrow from the neighbouring lawn.

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You may also want to add compost and some grass starter fertilizer.

Also during the first few weeks grass is very sensitive so you need to water a little very often.

During hot days that may be 10 - 15 minutes up to 5 times a day.

An added bonus of compost is that it holds water better than regular topsoil.

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1  
+1 for compost. I just seeded a good large area this way, and am now praying for frequent showers! –  Jeremy McGee Aug 4 '10 at 19:40

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