If you see brown patches or bare spots on your lawn, you may be dealing with a case of dead grass. This can be particularly noticeable in areas of the lawn that receive the most traffic or are most visible, such as the front yard.

Dead grass can make it challenging to maintain a neat and well-manicured lawn and can lead to more severe damage if not addressed, as it allows weeds and other invasive plants to take over the dead spots. It is first important to consider if your grass is dead or dormant.

Is my grass dead or dormant?

Dead grass and dormant grass are both brown grass, but there are critical differences between the two.

Dead grass is a grass that has died and will not recover. It is typically dry, brown, and brittle, and the blades will not bend or flex when touched.

Dormant grass, on the other hand, is a grass that has temporarily stopped growing due to environmental conditions, such as extreme heat, cold, or drought. Dormant grass will appear brown and dry, but the grass blades will still be flexible and bend when touched.

You can try a tug test on the blades to differentiate between dead and dormant grass. If they come up easily, they are dead. If they are still rooted, they are dormant.

Most common causes of dead grass

Various reasons can cause brown patches of dead grass on the lawn, and it's important to identify the cause to take appropriate action.

Fungal Lawn Diseases

Fungal diseases such as brown patch are caused by a fungus that thrives in warm, damp conditions. This disease can cause circular patches of dead or dying grass, and it is most active in the spring and fall.

Grub Damage

Grub damage is caused by the larvae of Japanese beetles and other insects that feed on the roots of the grass. This can cause the grass to turn brown and die. To prevent grub damage, you can use grub control products or take measures to prevent adult beetles from laying eggs on your lawn.

Animal Damage

Animals such as moles, skunks, and raccoons can cause damage to your lawn by digging for grubs or other insects. These animals can leave holes and patches of dead grass in their wake. To prevent animal damage, you can use animal repellents or install a physical barrier such as a fence.

Dog urine can also cause dead patches of grass because of the high nitrogen concentration in the urine. To prevent this, you can train your dog to use a specific yard area and avoid urinating in the same spot repeatedly.

Heat and Drought

Heat and drought can also cause dead patches of grass. During prolonged heat or drought periods, grass may turn brown and die. To prevent this, it's essential to water your lawn deeply and infrequently.

Poor Soil

Poor soil can lead to dead grass due to its lack of essential nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are required for the growth of the grass. Additionally, poor soil that is compacted or poorly drained can prevent the roots of the grass from absorbing the necessary water and oxygen, leading to the death of the grass.

Repaired bare spot with seeding success

Fix Dead Grass and Brown Spots on the Lawn

Fixing dead grass and bare spots on a lawn can be a challenging task, but it is not impossible. Here are some steps you can take to bring your lawn back to life:

Remove debris and dead grass.

Clear out any dead, matted turf and other debris to prevent disease and pests from spreading. The grass will germinate and root best when it comes directly to soil.

Dethatch

Dethatching removes the layer of dead grass, roots, and other organic matter that accumulates on top of a lawn. This buildup, called "thatch," can prevent water, air, and nutrients from reaching the grass roots.

Overseed or Bare Spot Repair

If the dead grass is widespread, overseeding or repairing bare spots may be necessary to revive the lawn.

Grass seed germinates best in the fall's cooler, damp conditions. This allows the young roots to get off to a good start in soil that's still reasonably warm for growth. Taking the extra time in September and October to revitalize your grass will have your yard looking thick, lush, and green in the spring.

Make grass seed germination easy with GreenView Fairway Formula Seeding Success. This is a starter fertilizer incorporated into bits of paper mulch that simultaneously takes care of fertilizing and mulching. The paper mulch is biodegradable, which means no clean-up once the grass seed germinates.

Water the lawn deeply and infrequently.

It is better to water the lawn for a more extended period once a week rather than for a short period every day.

It's crucial to keep the seedbed consistently damp until the seed is up. Dry seeds won't germinate well, if at all, and letting the soil go dry after a new grass plant has broken out of its seed may kill it before it has a chance to get going.

In hot, dry weather, you'll probably need to dampen the surface once or twice a day unless you're using GreenView's Fairway Formula Seeding Success - as the product keeps seeds moist longer while they germinate. Once the grass grows to about 2 inches tall, reduce watering to once every few days.

Mow the lawn at the proper height.

Start cutting the grass when it is about 4 inches tall. The ideal mowing height for most lawns is 2-3 inches. If the grass is too short, it can stress the plants and make them more susceptible to disease.

Practice proper lawn care.

This includes regular mowing, watering, fertilizing, and addressing any issues that arise, such as pests or diseases.

Most importantly, be patient.

Reviving a dead lawn takes time and effort, but you can bring it back to life with proper care. It's important to note that reviving dead grass depends on the cause of death, and not all situations will be the same.