How to patch repair a lawn

Bald patches, discolouration or holes can occur on your lawn for a host of reasons, including damage from pets, pests and grubs or removal of weeds, there are many reasons that bald or discoloured patches can appear on your lawn, from time to time. 

Before working on any repairs, if you can identify and address cause of the patch you might be able to limit the recurrence. It might be scorch marks from dog urine, which we talk about in our guide to dealing with Damage to lawns caused by animals, or perhaps the area is particularly shaded and therefore a more shade-tolerant seed or turf is required.

Whatever the cause, ‘Patch repair’ is straightforward, with either seed or new turf. 

Info Centre - Patch repairing a lawn

5 steps to patch repair with lawn seed

Commercial patch-repair products are a blend of topdressing, fertiliser and lawn seed, easily replicated by preparing your own mix. Combining the seed with the topdressing, or a light topsoil, helps to distribute the seed evenly and the fertiliser assists with germination.

It’s best to use a high quality seed as this will be more likely to germinate. A dwarf perennial ryegrass and fescue mix will be resilient, giving a good level of wear resistance, and will also have a suitable appearance. In dry, free-draining gardens, particularly in coastal areas, a strong fescue or tufted hair grasses could be used in a mix.

Medallion® lawn seed typically contains approximately 70% dwarf perennial ryegrass, and 30% fescues which includes a strong fescue cultivar.

To make your patch repair mix, you can use a ratio of two handfuls of fine topsoil to one handful of seed.

  1. Using something like a hand fork, remove any dead grass from the patch.
  2. Rough-up the surface of the ground to help the seed make contact with the soil.
  3. Apply your seed mix, level the surface by hand, using light pressure, and water.
  4.  Cover the area with a black bin liner, weed control membrane, or similar material, and peg it down. This will help to warm the soil and seed, supporting quicker germination.
  5. As soon as the seed has germinated and grass shoots start to show, remove the bin liner to allow light and air to reach it.
    Check out our full overseeding guide for details on reseeding larger areas.

Using turf to repair patches in a lawn

Returfing is a quick and efficient way to repair or replace a damaged patch. As with seeding a patch, aim to use a turf that is known for wear resistance, such as Rolawn Medallion® turf which is blended with this in mind. Alternatively, for small patches, you can take some from elsewhere in your garden, for example by enlarging a border.

  1. Create a clear edge to the patch by cutting around the outside of the area with a sharp edging tool, spade or knife, then lift the old turf. Bear in mind that it is easiest to replace square or rectangular patches.
  2. Ensure the earth is suitably loose for roots to establish, by removing any weeds and breaking up the soil, level if required and rake to a fine tilth.
  3. Apply a pre-turf fertiliser or a turf and lawn seeding topsoil.
  4. Cut the new turf to the size of the patch and lay the new turf.
  5. For large areas, lay turf in a brickwork effect, staggering the joints.
  6. Water well until rooted and mow on a high setting, only when the roots have taken.


Our ‘How to lay turf’ guide has more tips on successfully laying turf.