6 Common Reasons Your Lawn is Thinning and How to Fix it

Written By: Todd Thomasson

How’s your lawn looking these days? Do you wish you had thicker and greener grass?

You’re not alone. Everyone wants those luxurious lawns that beg to be walked on with bare feet while sipping an iced cold drink. You know it. We know it.

Maybe you look over at your neighbor’s yard thinking the grass is always greener on the other side of the Northern Virginia fence or property line. Well, you don’t have to worry anymore.

Don’t let a thin, bare lawn get you down. Let’s talk about how to fix a thinning lawn so you can have that greener, thicker grass you want … and your neighbors can envy your lawn for a while.

6 Common Reasons Your Lawn is Thinning Out

You probably have a vision of a lush, green oasis that is the backdrop to your garden parties and backyard relaxation plans in your Northern Virginia landscape.

Want to Learn More? Check Out This Complete Guide to The Perfect Lawn
But those thin spots you’re seeing don’t live up to what you long for in a lawn.

As you ponder what to do, a big question that comes up is what could be causing thinning grass. In fact, there are a few possibilities, and we can give you some ideas on how to address these challenges as well.

1. Lack of Proper Fertilizer

You might think lawns naturally have all the nutrients they need to grow well. But, over time, lawns actually leach nutrients, leaving them deficient. But to prevent thinning grass, your lawn needs the right nutrition.

lawn care expert fertilizes lush green grass

Enter fertilization. Fertilization can seem overwhelming when you first consider it with all of the options out there, as well as the complex terminology. Fertilizer contains various mixes of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium: the three nutrients lawns need to thrive. Then there are liquid and granular fertilizers. On top of that, achieving thicker grass requires proper timing and application of the right mix of nutrients.

But how do you know what combination of nutrients in what form and at what time of year to deliver them? That’s where our next tip comes into the picture.

2. Neglecting a Lawn Soil Test

A soil test is a crucial step in finding out what nutrients your Northern Virginia lawn is lacking and what fertilization and any other treatments can do to improve your grass density and color and be a key part of thinning lawn repair.

hands holding soil

For instance, if your soil’s pH is off, then the fertilizer you’re feeding it might not be working at all. Poor pH could limit nutrient uptake. In Northern Virginia, lawns tend to lean on the acidic side. Limestone applications can help to correct your soil’s pH and bring it back in a better balance to thicken up.

Also, only some lawn care professionals like Turf’s Up conduct free soil tests on their customers’ properties to ensure the custom program they develop for each lawn meets that lawn’s specific needs.

3. Compacted Soil

Water and nutrients need to reach your Northern Virginia’s lawn roots in order to prevent a lawn that is thinning out. Over time, lawns can become compact, whether it’s from foot traffic or rainfall, limiting this easy access of water and nutrients to the roots.

lawn care technician aerates lawn with ride on aerator

The solution is annual aeration, overseeding, and topdressing. This practice breaks up the soil and enables the lawn to breathe. Also, those small holes aeration creates can provide the perfect access for overseeding in thin, bare areas. An additional topdressing application then further boosts soil health.

Aeration, overseeding, and topdressing are key elements that shouldn’t be forgotten when figuring out how to fix a thinning lawn.

4. Too Much Shade

Occasionally, conditions just aren’t ideal for lawn growth. Maybe the lawn was growing around young trees, but as those trees grew, they created more shade, limiting the sun’s access to your lawn in specific areas. Sun, water, and nutrients are necessary for thick, green grass. Take one of those components away and you won’t accomplish your goal.

family sits on rock in shady lawn

Raising or thinning the tree canopy can increase the sunlight to these lawn areas, boosting sun exposure and it’s a key way in how to fix a thinning lawn.

But maybe thinning the tree canopy isn’t enough. You could have an area where grass just may not grow well. An alternative solution, such as a shade-loving groundcover, mulch, decorative rock, or a hardscape installation might be a better option than grass in these cases.

5. Insect or Disease Issues

Proper fertilization based on soil test results can ensure you don’t need thinning lawn repair.

This can naturally reduce weeds, insects, and diseases. However, these pesky lawn invaders are always lurking, waiting for the opportunity to infiltrate your grass if it shows any signs of weakness.

lawn care technician sprays for weeds

At times, certain conditions can lead to some weed breakthroughs. An excessively wet season can also result in turf disease. Keeping an eye out for these challenges and managing them quickly can make simple problems disappear versus exacerbate into bigger, more visually unpleasing results like bare spots.

A lawn care professional can offer solutions such as a combination of pre-emergent and post-emergent weed control tactics to keep all weeds at bay. Nothing blemishes your lawn faster than weeds, insects, and diseases.

6. Watering or Mowing Issues

Mowing is a seemingly simple task that you probably think you can’t get wrong when caring for your Northern Virginia lawn. But your mowing habits can have a big impact on your lawn’s performance. Mowing improperly can lead to thinning grass.

One of the largest mistakes people make is mowing their grass too short. Mowing too short can put unnecessary stress on your lawn. This can cause a dull green or yellow color, which you don’t want. It can also increase the likelihood for weeds because your lawn becomes thinner. These are all headaches you don’t need.

pop up automatic sprinkler head waters grass

The goal is to cut no more than one-third of your grass blades at any one time. Ideally you mow weekly during summer and you want to mow to 3.5 and 4 inches in height. Sharpen your mower blades to ensure a clean cut.

Plants also need water, and your lawn is no different. Watering at night can lead to excess humidity, which is a recipe for turf disease to develop. Watering when the sun is blaring during mid-day means that water may evaporate too quickly before reaching the grass roots. That leaves the ideal watering time to be between early morning just before sunrise to sunrise. This gives the grass roots a chance to absorb the water you’re applying, and as the sun comes out it’ll burn off the excess water resting on grass blades so disease doesn’t get a chance to develop overnight.

The goal is to water less frequently and long enough that your grass gets a good soaking versus shallow waterings more frequently. Watering one to two times weekly is a good idea, especially if Mother Nature isn’t already providing enough rainfall. Watering for 45 to 60 minutes is usually enough time for your lawn and a few inches of soil to get a good soaking. But the warmer and windier the conditions are, the sooner soil will dry out. The right watering plan can ensure you avoid needing thinning lawn repair.

Why Is My Lawn Thinning Out? Turf’s Up Can Help!

When you see thinning grass, you want to get your lawn back to its old self again as fast as possible. The process can take time, and it can certainly be frustrating when your first attempts to tackle your suspected problem don’t work. A bare, thin lawn is certainly not attractive to come home to.

Let Turf’s Up help. Finding a lawn care service provider who you trust can help you solve your lawn care problems quickly and easily, without taking up all of your time and energy. You certainly don’t want an inexperienced technician to make your problem worse, costing you more money later on and leaving you with a thinner, weaker lawn. You want to be confident your lawn is in the best hands and looks great, contributing to your property’s value.

We’d love to help reduce your stress, thicken your grass, and give you that worry-free lawn you’re longing to spend time enjoying that your neighbors envy.

Ready to learn why Turf’s Up could be your totally awesome choice for lawn care services in Northern Virginia? We’re stoked to learn more about you and help you have the best lawn on the block. Get started today with a free quote. Together, we can prepare a customized plan that is perfect for you and your yard.

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