How to fix ruts in yard that have somehow formed and are ruining the aesthetic of your lawn is a common question among garden enthusiasts.
All you need to do is to take out one day from your busy schedule to carry out the major part of rut fixing. You will have to replant new grass seed or sod and wait for a few weeks until the whole lawn becomes even.
Carry on reading as we will discuss all these points in this step-by-step guide to fixing ruts below.
- How Do You Fix Ruts In Yard?
- 1. Prepare the Tools That You Will Need
- 2. Choose the Right Time for Fixing Ruts
- 3. Mow the Grass From That Area
- 4. Loosen the Soil
- 5. Lift the Soil
- 6. Fill the Rut With Soil
- 7. Plant Grass in the Area
- 8. Turn the Fixed Rut Into a No Go Zone
- 9. Water the Fixed Area Correctly
- 10. Aerate the Yard Each Year
- 11. Be Vigilant About Preventing Ruts in the Future
How Do You Fix Ruts In Yard?
To fix ruts in yard, first prepare all the tools that you will need and choose the right time to do the project. Remove grass and then use a spading fork to loosen the soil within the rut. Fill the rut with soil then plant grass in the area.
Find out how to fix shallow and deep ruts in a few simple steps below.
1. Prepare the Tools That You Will Need
Before heading out and fixing tire tracks in your yard, gather all the necessary tools you will need. It would help if you had a garden spade, fork, and landscaping knife. This knife is also colloquially known as the edger.
Ensure you have a long garden hose ready and attached to an uninterrupted water source. Otherwise, you will have to use a watering can, which can become more cumbersome. Buy new topsoil and grass seeds to fill the shallow marks created by the tire ruts.
2. Choose the Right Time for Fixing Ruts
An important part of fixing tire ruts is sowing new grass seeds on the fixed parts afterwards. That is why timing is an important factor in this situation. You should schedule to fix the ruts when the germination and growth of your grass seeds are at their peak. This, of course, will vary from grass species to species.
If you live in a northern state, your yard naturally has cold-season grass planted. These include popular varieties like Kentucky bluegrass, Perennial ryegrass, and fescue grasses. These cooler-season grasses germinate and grow best from late summer until early fall, and this is the best time to correct rut marks in these grasses.
Now let’s go over to warm-season grasses like Bermuda grass, Buffalo, Centipede, and Zoysia, which grow best in hotter weather. Their growth spurt accelerates from the end of spring until the beginning of summer, and this is when you can best fix rut spots within these grasses.
What if the lawn gets damaged from tires during the winter dormancy period? In that case, you should patiently wait until spring arrives.
Even cool-season grasses will grow during the early spring when temperatures are on the low side. In winter, frost will make it harder to fix ruts, and the grass seeds will also fail to germinate.
3. Mow the Grass From That Area
The grass still growing on the tire ruts needs to be removed first. If the rut is deep and large enough for a small-sized mower to work, your job will be done within a few minutes. Otherwise, you will have to manually uproot grass using a shovel.
More than just cutting off grass blades from the ground surface is required. The grass should be pulled from within the soil along with its roots.
This would make the next few steps much easier and improve the outcome of the new grass seed sowing carried out afterwards.
In the case of sod, if some of it is still intact within the ruts, try lifting all of it in one go. Use a shovel to lift the sod from the edge if possible, otherwise just cut right through it. This sod is useless now and better off discarded.
4. Loosen the Soil
The soil underneath gets compacted when the tires move over moist soil and create ruts. The heavier the machine and the deeper the ruts, the more compact soil will be. The older the compaction is, the more effort you will have to loosen it.
- This is where a shovel fork comes in handy. Stand upright in a straight posture with one hand on the handle of the fork and the other near the fork twines.
- Place the fork at an angle of 45 degrees to the edge of the rut and push it as deep into the soil as it would go.
- Next, push down on the handle so the fork and the soil come up.
- Repeat these same steps along the entire edge of the rut. If the rut is particularly deep, you will have to repeat the same process within the same spot twice, each time loosening the soil deeper and deeper.
- Even when using a spade instead of a fork, keep the digging edge of the spade at 45 degrees to the surface of the rut’s edge.
Even the deepest ruts are barely more than a couple of inches deep. You will not have to dig too deeply and will be able to complete this step in a short amount of time. Wear rubber gloves to grip the tool better and to protect your hands.
5. Lift the Soil
This is an important step only in shallow ruts; you can skip it if your ruts are deeper. Once you have used the spade fork to loosen the soil, pick up the shovel to lift the soil a few inches above the surrounding soil.
You can lift the soil using a fork, but we always find it more time-consuming. What happens is that the soil will eventually settle down on its own. In doing so, it will become even with the surrounding ground level.
Ruts that are less than four inches deep are considered shallow and will be fixed with just these few steps. Even if you lift the soil just one inch above the surrounding soil, it will settle down evenly at the correct level.
6. Fill the Rut With Soil
In the case of deep ruts that are more than four inches deep caused by a very heavy machine or vehicle, more than lifting the soil and allowing it to settle is needed.
You will have to fill the deep ridges formed with brand-new soil. Take this as an opportunity to add a fresh, well-draining soil mixture to the affected parts of your yard.
Mix equal parts soil and sand well before filling the rut with them. Another option is to mix compost and soil in equal parts and add sand.
Adding compost will make the new soil richer and help in moisture retention. Remember to add the right quantity of slow-release pellet fertilizers for the soil and sand mixture.
Adding fertilizer is important and will help the new spot fill up faster with new grass. Just pour your new soil mixture on the ridge created by the rut. Use the same shovel to smoothen the surface but with a very light touch. Otherwise, you risk compacting this newly filled spot too.
7. Plant Grass in the Area
In order to make the rut part of the lawn green again, you have several options. The first is to see if the grass you uprooted from the ruts is in good condition. In that case, you must carefully take the tufts of grass out along with intact roots and then store them in moist pieces of newspaper.
All you will have to do next is to transplant them in freshly laid soil. In most cases, the grass will take root, and if it is a fast-spreading variety like a centipede, the whole patch will soon be green again.
If it was sod that you had carefully dug out while fixing ruts, then replant it. Otherwise, buy new squares of sod and install them carefully. Try to even out the surface of the new soil perfectly so that new sod forms intimate contact with it.
The last option is to sow new grass seeds of the same grass type already planted in the lawn. Try to obtain the best quality grass seeds from your vendor. Seeds that are pre-coated with nutrients and pre-germinated will have a higher success rate.
8. Turn the Fixed Rut Into a No Go Zone
Give strict instructions to family and neighbors to keep off the rutted area for three to four weeks. This is the approximate time frame during which your newly sowed seeds will have germinated or the sod will have established roots in the soil.
If you own a dog or any other pets, they must also be kept indoors. Larger-sized animals like dogs or cats will destroy the newly sprouted grass blades or sod and end up compacting the fixed rut.
Another reason pet animals are no longer welcome on the lawn for the next month is their urine. Animal urine is super-rich in nitrogen and will burn the grass blades. Your newly fixed soil will become acidic and will have to be re-amended again.
9. Water the Fixed Area Correctly
Make sure to leave your fixed rut as it is after planting new grass in it. We all know how important constant watering is for establishing new sod and grass. Because ruts in the yard cannot be watered daily before fixing, you must be extra vigilant about watering them afterwards.
New seeds and sod need five to six daily watering sessions to take root. Using too much watering during these sessions could kill grass instead of overwatering.
It is best to use sprinklers for watering and make each session last only five minutes. Set the sprinklers to a setting with a low volume of water.
Keep the newly added soil dry up to one inch from the top for the first two weeks. Let the topsoil dry between each watering before you start the next session. From the third week onwards, you can try tapering off on watering.
10. Aerate the Yard Each Year
Yearly lawn aeration will save all your hard work from getting to waste and prevent further tracks from forming. It is a must-have lawn care step that must be performed each year, preferably during spring or fall.
Aeration is simpler than it sounds. The least effective but simplest method is to go for a spike type of aeration. Either borrow special spiked shoes that you then walk over the lawn while wearing the pair or use a pitchfork to dig three to four inches deep holes all over the lawn.
The core type of aeration is the most effective but requires a riding type of aerator. This aerator removes proper soil plugs regularly while driving across your lawn. Each plug is four to five inches deep and half an inch in diameter.
You will see a massive improvement in the condition of your yard after regular aeration. The soil will become much more spongy, well-aerated, and will better tolerate being used. There will be lesser soil compaction and formation of tire tracks in well-aerated soil.
11. Be Vigilant About Preventing Ruts in the Future
After having gone through the trouble of fixing ruts in the yard and compact soil, you should wisely prevent other ruts from forming. Let us unfold some of the most common reasons why these ruts form and what we can do to prevent them.
- Make sure to mow your lawn when its soil is wet from recent watering. Wait at least 12 to 24 hours after a rain spell or after you have sprinkled the lawn with water. When the soil is wet and soggy, even lightweight machinery moving across it will create tire marks.
- Only use heavy-weight machinery or equipment for lawn care purposes. Replace your bulky and monstrous lawn mower with a smaller and sleeker one. Especially from the softer, muddier, or wetter section of the lawn, keep these things away. Do not drive or park your car on the lawn for any reason.
- Mowing the lawn in the same pattern each time is a surefire way of creating tire marks in the lawn. The same parts of the lawn that come under the tires each time get more compacted. These tracks only get deeper and more pronounced each time. Try a different lawn mowing pattern to prevent this from happening.
As our parting words, here is a conclusive summary of how to fix ruts in the lawn in very easy steps.
- Early to late spring and late summer to mid-autumn is the best time to correct tire tracks present in your lawn.
- First, remove grass from the rut and try to remove it along with the roots so you can replant it. In the case of sod, try removing it carefully if it can be salvaged.
- Next, you need to loosen the soil by placing a spading fork at an angle of 45 degrees to the edge of the rut.
- Mix half of parts soil with either compost or sand and use it to fill the bump created by the tire.
Using only a few simple and uncomplicated steps, you can get rid of tire tracks within three to four weeks. It doesn’t take much effort, to be honest. Just a few hours’ worths of manual work and then simple watering and lawn care for the next few weeks.
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