Gas Spill on Lawn

Lawn damaged by gasoline spill. Photo:

Question: I was filling my lawn mower with gas the other day and accidentally spilled some on the lawn. Now there’s a dead patch. What should I do?

Lucas Shand

Answer: First, of course, you should never fill your lawn mower’s gas tank (or that of any other power tool, for that matter), on a lawn. Move it to a driveway or other inert surface where spills can be mopped with a few old rags. Accidents happened so easily!

This gas can claims to be spill-proof … but still, don’t use it on a lawn! Photo: SureCan

And there actually are spill-proof gas cans that greatly reduce the risk of a spill, but even so, you should still never fill a gas tank on a lawn.

A few drops of gasoline falling on a lawn won’t do any damage, but obviously enough spilled on the lawn in your case to kill the grass.

Replace damaged lawn with fresh soil, then overseed. Photo:

Much of the gas will evaporate and microbes in the soil will eventually digest the rest, but rather than wait a year or so for the grass to fill in on its own, dig out the dead patch to a depth of about 2 inches (5 cm) and replace with fresh soil, then overseed with quality grass seed. (?Helpful hint: consider using low-maintenance lawn seed.) Water regularly as the new grass sprouts. Within a month, the damage should no longer be visible. 

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

5 comments on “Gas Spill on Lawn

  1. connie l bennett

    I had a 5 gal bucket of gasoline lose its lid in a storm and the gas over flowed into my yard. Now I’ve noticed that lots of the leaves in my Bradford Pear are turned dark brown. Dead. Is this from the fuel and what can I do to stop it from killing the tree?

    • You can only water thoroughly to rince out any remaining fuel. then give the tree time to recuperate. It might go well, or it mighty not.

  2. We had lots of wind s few days ago. I was just in the back yard checking furniture and noticed a can of gasoline that was covered ended up spilling on the dirt and I noticed the above ground cap to the septic tank was off? ( this part looks suspicious). if someone poured some gas in there?what to do? And what could happen? Or if an accident? Either way not sure if how much or any got in there?

    • Honestly, if I were you, I’d check with your local municipality, maybe the fire department. I can’t imagine this is anything but a coincidence, but you might want to check it out.

  3. Arborists are often instructed to fill their saws over bare soil or ground cover so that they do not stain pavement with bar oil, or gasoline that contains engine oil. I prefer that they do it on the chipper hopper, where any spill will get whisked away by debris.

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