Grass won't grow in certain spots

Asked August 13, 2018, 10:37 AM EDT

I have some spots in my front yard where I cannot get grass to grow. This is an established lawn, but a couple years ago the utility company dug up part of my yard-----and then re-seeded. The places where I cannot grow grass seems to be just on the perimeter of their work. Have had pretty good luck with seed in the past, and am puzzled as to why these problem areas would crop up, and then not support anything new. Am I making this too complicated?? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

The failure to grow grass on the perimeter of the utility work may be a cause and effect issue or it may just be coincidental.

Generally when grass does not grow by areas of soil disruption is that insufficient water is getting to it. Is it possible that during the utility work, large rocks and/or tree stumps were left under the areas where you are now unable to grow grass? Unfortunately you will only know if this is a possibility by digging into the ground.

Other possibilities are:

1). Ant hills may be under these brown areas. This should be easy to determine. Getting rid of the ants is a more difficult task.

2). Are these areas where dogs urinate? Recognize that these could be your neighbors' dogs..

3). Chemicals applied to your sidewalks can lead to these brown areas. Even if these brown areas are not right next to a sidewalk, remember that throwing snow from a sidewalk onto a yard can spread these chemicals around.

4). How does the elevation of these spots compare to the rest of the yard? The issue here is that when you mow these elevated areas, you may be “scalping” the grass. Is it possible that the utility work caused certain elevation changes? Also keep in mind that when the utility lines were put in, less than desirable soil (high clay content) may have been deposited on the perimeter.

The following site will describe some other possibilities:

If you are so inclined you could have the soil tested from some of these areas. This may or may not provide you significant information, especially if grass has previously grown in these areas. See:

Lastly, I would suggest that in early September you vigorously rake the areas to remove as much of the brown grass. Then spread a layer of top soil around and reseed. Water, Water, Water.

Good Luck!!