Repairing a Lawn

As the weather gets milder, our thoughts turn to our outside spaces.  (In our garden centre, we reckon that the Easter weekend kicks off the gardening season for most of our customers!)  And now is a really good time to think about sorting out your lawn, if it needs it.  This mild but damp weather will help any new seed or turf to establish quickly, in good time for the sunnier months when you’ll want to be out on it. 

If your lawn is in a really sorry state, it may be best to ‘cut your loses’ and re-lay it entirely, either with fresh turf or seed.  A lawn that is constantly patched may never look as smart as a new lawn, laid with the same batch of turf or seed mix.  However, if you do only have a few areas that need attention, they can easily be sorted out. 

Here is our guide on some of the most common lawn problems and how to solve them.

How to repair bare patches

We’d encourage you to start by thinking about what caused the bare patch in the first place.  Is this an area of high traffic?  Was it caused by being too shady?  Is it just an edge that has become worn?  If it’s either of the first two, consider purchasing a seed mix or turf that is specifically designed to cope with shade or heavy footfall.  This can help prevent the problem coming back.  If it’s just a worn edge, that’s probably just life!

Regardless of the cause of the problem, the solution is the same – you patch it.  You have three choices in terms of what to patch it with: new turf; lawn seed or; a patch of existing lawn taken from an inconspicuous area.  Read on for details of each.

Repairing with lawn seed

Lawn seed is quick and easy to sow, it’s cheaper than turf and you can choose a seed mix to suit your garden conditions.  The downside is that it will take longer to establish, so you may have an area of your lawn sectioned off for a few months while it does.  If that’s not a problem, here’s how to do it:

  • Cut out a square of turf around the damaged spot and just a little bigger than it. Slice all around the edge and then slice underneath the turf to a depth of around 2 inches (5 cms).  You can use a half-moon edging tool if you have one or just a flat-bladed space will be fine.
  • Lightly fork over the soil, getting rid of any large stones if you can. You might also want to work in some top soil or garden compost for extra nutrition.  Gently firm the area over with your feet to make a level surface.
  • The seed packet will tell you how much seed to use based on the size of your patch; it’s usually around 15–25g per sq m (½–¾oz per sq yard). If it’s a larger area, consider mixing some dry sand in with the seed before you scatter it, to help you see where you’ve already sown. Try to scatter as evenly as you can, then lightly cover the seeds with some compost or top-soil to help prevent wildlife eating them.  (For a small patch, that may be enough but you could consider covering the area with garden fleece or netting to keep any determined birds off).
  • Water gently, preferably with a watering can with a fine rose attachment to avoid disturbing the seed.

Repairing with turf

Turf does provide an instant fix, whether you are using new turf or something cut from another area of your lawn.  This probably means you’ll be able to use it sooner than patching with seed.  However, the cost of new turf is usually more than seed, so that might be a consideration for you.  Here’s how to patch with turf:

  • Prepare the area as for using lawn seed:
  • Cut out a square of turf around the damaged spot and just a little bigger than it. Slice all around the edge and then slice underneath the turf to a depth of around 2 inches (5 cms).  You can use a half-moon edging tool if you have one or just a flat-bladed spade will be fine.
  • Lightly fork over the soil, getting rid of any large stones if you can. You might also want to work in some top soil or garden compost for extra nutrition.  Gently firm the area over with your feet to make a level surface.
  • If you intend to use some turf from your own garden, find an inconspicuous spot and cut out an identical-sized square of healthy turf. If you are using newly-bought turf, unroll it and cut out your square (or sections to make up a square) from the roll.
  • Place the healthy piece of turf into the prepared square, and firm down, ensuring it sits at the same level as the surrounding lawn. You can add or remove the soil from underneath if you need to adjust it a bit.
  • To ensure the edges mesh neatly, work around them pressing down with the back of a rake, then brush a sandy lawn top-dressing or some sieved soil into any potential gaps.
  • Water thoroughly.​

How to even out minor bumps and hollows

Over time, it is natural that lawns may develop hollows or bumps, perhaps where soil has settled or a large stone has worked nearer the surface.  If the difference is only minor, sprinkling on top-dressing each year may be enough to help level the area out gradually. However, if you want to resolve the issue more quickly, here’s how to do it:

  • Cut through the uneven area with a flat-bladed spade or edging tool, then make two slits parallel to each end of your first cut. This should leave you with an H-shaped incision, allowing you to peel back the turf on either side of the problem spot.
  • Now you can see the underlying soil, fork it to either remove the excess soil or stones or to add some new top soil to correct the level. Firm the soil down and replace the two folds of turf.
  • Before firming down and watering, check the lawn is level as you want it; you can always do some further adjustments now if you need to.
  • When you’re happy, compress the turf edges back down with the back of a rake and brush a sandy lawn top-dressing or some sieved soil into the joins. Water well.

How to repair lawn edges

It’s common for lawn edges to get damaged unintentionally just by being walked on or by shading from overhanging plants.  A crisp, well-defined edge makes the whole lawn look much smarter, so it’s worth repairing any worn areas and re-cutting the edges regularly.

  • Cut a square of turf that is at least twice as wide as the damaged area; you should have the damaged edge on one side and then a healthy edge on the other. It doesn’t matter if your square is fairly large; in fact, a larger turf will likely survive better than a tiny one.
  • Try to make it as truly square as you can. Remember to slice under the turf as cleanly as you can to help ensure it’s in one piece.
  • As before, fork over the exposed soil, work in some compost if you wish and then level it gently.
  • Turn your turf square through 180° so that the inner, healthy edge now aligns with your lawn edge and the damaged patch is facing into the lawn. Firm it down and water well.  This now ensures that you have a fresh, firm edge to your lawn.
  • If your damaged patch is on the large side (more than about 8 inches wide), you may want to consider infilling with some lawn seed (see our instructions above).  However, if it is smaller than that, a healthy lawn will soon grow-in to fill the gap naturally.

Take a look at our Lawncare Calendar to help keep your lawn in tip-top condition, easily, all year.




N. Haggard 20 September 2022

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say how delighted I am with my new garden.

Jon, my designer, listened to my ideas and delivered on everything I asked for. I wanted something different to any garden I’d had before, no lawn, no landscaping but packed with plants. He designed such a lovely secret garden, around a statement tree. And I have to commend him for his unwavering patience! I changed my mind a hundred times but never did he give me the impression that he was losing patience with my endless indecision. And my confidence in him led me to place an order for over £10k.

My landscaping team, Blade and Tony, were exceptional, from their work ethic, skill and knowledge, to the way they dealt with me, the customer. My standards are very high and I couldn’t fault them.

All in all, a very professional team of people. And it showed that they all care. I’m over the moon with the finished result. I will send you a before and after photo. Thank you so much.

A delighted customer.

G. Gray. May 2022

My front garden has been transformed by Andy and Bradley who both worked incredibly hard and I am delighted with the result. Andy had the vision and skill to turn my idea into reality and I can't thank him enough.

C. Haig Sept 2021

We recently had our garden landscaped by Hambrooks and I just wanted to pass on my thanks, not just for the outcome - which is superb - but for the professionalism of all the staff involved on the job who are all a credit to you company. Mike, Dave, Les and Adam.

H. Sharp Sept 2021

I just wanted to let you know how delighted I am with my new garden. Melanie was a delight to work with and the ideas she had have worked perfectly. Also Sheldon laid the patio beautifully and him and Dave were a pleaseure to have at my house. Quiet workers and polite.

B. Rendell April 2021

I would like to say how delighted we are with the work carried out. Mel, Paul and Tony all worked very hard, they totally took on board the specific need relating to safety as well as the general garden issues. Paul and Tony were excellent at consulting and discussing with me what I felt best in terms of the brief and adjusting if and as necessary, constantly pleasant and polite to deal with. Mel had picked up on particular issues from the first consultation and offered valuable advice. The outcome means a great deal less worry for me going forward.
Altogether a very positive experience and outcome which I would not hesitate to recommend to others.

Stephen March 2021

Dom and Adam's work (garden maintenance) is greatly appreciated. Dom really listened to everything we discussed very carefully and went out of his way to understand and then act upon that discussion. We are extremely pleased with the work done - both to the pond and pyracantha.


We have been coming to Hambrooks for years and it's our favourite garden centre because of its friendly helpful staff and a great selection of plants and trees and the garden design ideas.

“We wanted to write and say how pleased we are with our low maintenance garden makeover. We are very impressed with the attitude of your staff who were prepared to listen to our requirements. Your team John and Rick brushed up and left everything tidy at the end of the day. We now have a garden we can manage and it looks great. THANK YOU HAMBROOKS.”

Mr & Mrs Venables, Southampton. April 2019

“Dear Josh & Mike We just want to say you both did a brilliant job of designing our garden along with the guys who did the work who were amazing. A few weeks on its looks even better now some of the plants are blooming. Thank you!!”

Mr & Mrs Gazzard, Winchester July 2019

“To James, John & Rikki. Thank you so much, we are delighted with our new garden. We really appreciate the attention to detail, the high quality workmanship and the standard of the finished project. We are amazed at how John & Rikki resolved the difficulties of the site and by the quality of their craftmanship. It was a pleasure to work with them and thank you for making our ideas into something we will enjoy for years to come.”