Dealing With Ruts In Your Lawn

July 21, 2021

Have you ever created a rut in your lawn because you (or someone else) thought that it was safe to drive across the lawn? We see this happen all the time on campuses, or in even worse cases, on an athletic field. “Sod Father” and Grounds Management VP at SSC Services For Education George Bernardon, has the tips and tricks you need to properly deal with these ruts in lawn and yard spaces.

The first step to dealing with ruts in your yard is evaluating the depth of the damage. By determining whether your ruts are less than 1″ deep or greater than 1″ deep, you can begin to tackle getting your lawn back in its best condition.

  • For Ruts Less Than 1 Inch Deep: When it comes to these ruts, they can be top-dressed in 2 – 3 applications to get the surface back to level. The key is to use like soil of which turf is being grown on. Punch holes through aeration or other means so that the soil blends with existing, apply approximately 1/3 to ½ of the soil required. Following this, wait a month and repeat. A third application may be required to be even with existing sod.
  • For Ruts Greater Than 1 Inch Deep: Begin by measuring and determining the amount of soil that will be required before any sod is removed. Have soil on-site and ready to go. Next, you’ll want to mark the area- go at least 6” wider on all sides. Remove the sod from the impacted area and set it to the side in the order removed.

    Scarify existing soil, add new soil, tamp moderately to settle, scarify and add soil until within 1” (remember your sod was cut at 1”). If needed, add soil again. Scarify top of soil by lightly raking. Now you are ready to place sod back in place in the order it was removed. Make sure joints are butted tightly together. Once laid, tamp to ensure soil to soil contact. After this water at least twice daily or more if needed.

    Tip: Add a little bit of organic fertilizer to the soil prior to placing the sod.

If you are dealing with a very large rut where large amounts of sod will need to be removed, a sod cutter can be rented to make the process easier. Set the depth of the sod cutter to 1″ so that you get a thick pad.

When it comes to repairing ruts, please keep in mind that you should never use dirt. Dirt was not mentioned once in these instructions for a reason. It is also important to remember that you should not use sand in the repairs- you are not repairing a golf course, and unless you live by the shore, your soil is not sand.

Take advantage of these tips to ensure you handle ruts in your yard properly. Be sure to check out our Resource Center and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for the more tips and tricks to try at home.