Wondering about reasons for dying grass and how to revive a dead lawn? There are a number of possible causes and no easy answers. The first step to brown lawn care is figuring out why it happens.
Reasons for Dying Grass
So can a brown lawn be saved? Depending on your particular circumstances, generally, yes. That being said, you should try to pinpoint what is causing the browning in the first place. Drought: This a big problem across much of the country these days, and drought is one of the primary reasons for dying grass. Many people opt not to water their lawns during the summer, but this may be a mistake when there isn’t enough rain to keep the roots alive. Grass naturally goes dormant after two to three weeks without water, and most lawns can tolerate drought for four to six weeks, although they will turn brown. However, extended periods of hot, dry weather may kill the lawn. How to revive a dead lawn? Bad news: If the grass is totally dead due to drought, there’s no way to bring it back. However, reviving brown lawns that are simply dormant usually occurs within three to four weeks of regular irrigation. Thatch: If your lawn turns brown in spots when summer rolls around, you may have a problem with thatch – a thick layer of decomposed plant matter, roots and partially decomposed stems, that builds up under the roots. Thatch usually isn’t caused by clippings, which decompose quickly and add healthy nutrients to your lawn. To determine if you have too much thatch, dig a 2 inch (5 cm.) deep chunk of grass. A healthy lawn will have about ¾ to 1 inch (2-2.5 cm.) of brown, spongy thatch between the green grass and the surface of the soil. If you have more than that, you may have to take steps to control it. Improper Mowing: Mowing the lawn too short can stress the grass and cause it to turn dry and brown. As a general rule of thumb, remove no more than one-third the height at each mowing. Although a length of 2 ½ inches (6 cm.) is okay, 3 inches (8 cm.) is healthier during summer heat. Mow regularly and don’t allow the grass to become too long. Improper Watering: Water your lawn deeply about once a week, or when the grass looks slightly wilted, providing about an inch (2.5 cm.) of water each time. Avoid frequent, shallow irrigation which results in weak roots that can’t tolerate summer heat. Don’t water if the lawn doesn’t need it. Insects: If your lawn is brown, pull up a small area of turf. Pest-infested grass pulls up easily because the roots are damaged. Pests tend to invade overly watered, excessively fertilized lawns or neglected lawns. Keep your lawn healthy, but don’t pamper it. Grubs are the most prevalent lawn pest. Salt damage: Salt damage may be the reason if the brown lawn is adjacent to a street, driveway, or sidewalk. A good soaking should help dilute the saline concentration, but you may have to reseed the lawn if the damage is too severe. Pet spots: If your brown grass is limited to small areas, a dog may be going potty on your lawn. Water the grass thoroughly to bring it back to health and teach your puppy to relieve himself in a better spot. Fungus: Sporadic brown spots in the lawn could be the result of a fungus, a number of which can affect lawns. Now that you know some of the reasons for dying grass, you can better equip yourself in managing the problem. Healthy lawns have fewer issues.
Gardening tips, videos, info and more delivered right to your inbox!
Sign up for the Gardening Know How newsletter today and receive a free download of our most popular eBook "How to Grow Delicious Tomatoes."
A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.
15 Garden Trends To Avoid in 2024: Experts Warn Against These Outdated Designs
Garden trends come and go. We asked gardening experts to share the outdated trends that should be retired – and what you can do instead.
By Melanie Griffiths Last updated
How To Overwinter Ollas For Years Of Use: Get More From Irrigation Pots
If you overwinter ollas properly, you'll keep these unique watering pots from cracking. Here's how to protect them in erratic winter temperatures so they last longer.
By Mary Ellen Ellis Published
Sustainable Turf Species For A Greener Lawn
Click here for some of the most sustainable types of turf grass you can grow for an eco-friendly lawn.
By Bonnie L. Grant Published
How To Grow A Sustainable Lawn
Adjust your thinking about a perfect green lawn and consider more sustainable methods. Click here to learn how.
By Mary Ellen Ellis Published
Will Frost Kill Grass Seed And How To Help New Turf Survive
Learn how to help your newly sown grass survive frost and freezing weather.
By Amy Grant Published
Lawn Problems That Aren’t Really Problems
Your lawn may not require as much work as you think. Learn which common problems aren’t really problems.
By Teo Spengler Published
Why A Manual Push Mower Is Good For You And The Environment
Reel mowers are making a comeback, but why? Click here to learn about reel mower pros and cons.
By Amy Grant Last updated
Fertilize Grass In Fall For A Lush Lawn In Spring
For everything you need to know about fertilizing your lawn in the fall, click here.
By Susan Albert Published
Tips For Mowing Stripes In Lawn
Wouldn’t it be great to have stripes in your lawn like a sports field? Learn how here.
By Susan Albert Last updated
Late Summer Lawn Care Checklist
Plan to do some late summer care and maintenance of your lawn so it will be healthy and beautiful in the spring. Here are some tips.
By Laura Miller Last updated