Lack of water or poor underlying soil are the usual causes of dying grass. Because of the lesser rainfall and higher temperatures that dry out the soil in the summer, grass most frequently becomes brown and appears to be dying.
Even if grass has turned brown from a drought, it typically grows back green after a shower.
Winter grass death is typically caused by the underlying soil being flooded, which is caused by a high clay content that limits good drainage and keeps oxygen away from the roots, interfering with root respiration and turning the grass yellow.
Inadequate watering or compacted underlying soil are the two main causes of newly planted grass dying.
Digging up the patch, replacing the soil, and planting grass seed may be the answer if the grass is dying in patches.
Grass is highly resilient and can go from green to brown and dormant during dry spells before turning green again after a downpour.
Read on to find out what’s causing the problem and how to fix it to save your dying grass.
Table of Contents
Grass Dying in Patches
A combination of drought and subpar soil is typically the most frequent cause of patchy grass death. The turf is buried beneath sand or rubble, which does not hold onto moisture or nutrients, causing the grass to dry out and become brown in hot weather.
However, as I have outlined below, there are a number of reasons why grass can die in patches.
|Possible Reasons for Patches of Dying Grass||Causes of Patchy Grass Death||Symptoms|
|Applying fertilizer unevenly or in excess||Because grass is so sensitive to too much fertilizer, if too much is applied in one spot or the application is not precise, stripes or dead areas will appear on the lawn.||Where the fertilizer is concentrated highest, it appears as brown streaks or spots.|
|Drought:||There may be a connection between brown, dying areas and hot temperatures. Where the dead, brown patches have emerged, the soil beneath is typically very sandy or good draining.||Low rainfall or heat waves cause grass to turn brown or yellow.|
|Dog urine, mostly from female dogs:||Dog urine from both female and male animals has a high nitrogen content that can scorch grass and cause brown, dead patches. While male dogs spray to establish their territory, female dogs typically crouch and wee in one location that focusses on one area. Due to this, brown patches are more likely to be caused by female dog urine.||Brown burnt parts bordered by beautiful greenery.|
|spilled gasoline, oil, or oil:||Any type of gasoline or oil can burn the grass, leaving clumps of dead grass on the lawn.||Any grass in touch with fuel becomes brown and withers.|
|Underlying Clutter, Below the Turf||Particularly with newly constructed homes, construction debris or rubble is occasionally partially buried and turfed over. The grass turns brown because the underlying debris cannot keep moisture or nutrients.||Above the areas of dense rubble, brown patches develop.|
|Compacted Soil Areas:||Driving over a lawn, walking on it, or thick clay soil can all cause soil compaction to the point where roots are unable to properly grow in the soil and are subsequently unable to absorb moisture and nutrients to support the grass.||Where the earth is most compacted, there are extensive patches of brown or yellow grass, poor growth, or concentrated patches.|
|specific lawn diseases like Dollar Spot Disease and Fusarium Patch Disease.||The two most prevalent lawn illnesses, Fusarium Patch disease and Dollar Spot disease, both have the potential to turn a grass brown and die.||Small, round brown patches of illness called “dollar spot” appear all over the lawn. After deep snow has melted, the Fausarium illness appears, resulting in yellow blotches.|
How to Revive Grass Dying in Patches
The good news is that grass is remarkably resilient and may frequently be treated or revived if some patches are dying:
How to Repair Grass Dying in Patches
1. Use a half moon or spade to first make a border cut around the dead grass.
2. To remove the dead patch, lever the lawn upwards using a half moon.
3. It is recommended to fill the hole with a loam-based compost and use enough of it to raise it between 1 and 2 inches above the surrounding turf. The new grass should be the same height as the rest of the lawn because the compost will certainly compact when the lawn is used again.
Clay and organic material in compost made from loam help maintain moisture, which is essential for the growth of fresh grass seed.
After laying down the layer of compost, make sure it is thoroughly moistened before planting the seed.
4. To the soil’s surface, scatter a lot of grass seed. At this time, refrain from watering because the water will likely move the grass seed, causing an uneven distribution.
5. After spreading the seed, top it with extra compost and then lightly crush it with your hands or a flat surface. This is significant because the grass seed needs to come into contact with the compost for germination to occur.
Birds, who are likely to devour the seed, are also prevented from seeing the grass by the compost layer on top of it.
Water the top layer softly after you have sprinkled on the compost and slightly firmed it.
Within two weeks, the grass seed ought to sprout and begin to grow.
6. Two weeks later, the same area is shown, and the grass seed has substantially expanded as a result of regular hydration and lots of sunlight.
For at least a month, refrain from standing on the area or mowing it to give the grass roots time to grow and become stress-resistant.
The grass should be sturdy enough to walk on and mow after 6 to 8 weeks.
Reviving Grass Dying from Too Much Fertilizer: Because grass is so sensitive to too much nitrogen, it is essential to adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions in order to prevent applying too much and make sure the distribution technique is set up correctly. Always fertilize shortly prior to a predicted downpour to reduce the risk of burning the grass.
Give the affected areas plenty of water to dilute the nitrogen content and then let it heal. If the effects of overfertilizing are mild, then the grass may occasionally recover if it is properly hydrated.
A half moon or spade may be used to remove any dead grass, top soil or compost can be applied, and grass seed can be sown to refill the affected region, or if the damage is extensive, you can re-turf the lawn if it is a wide area that is impacted.
Restore Drought-Related Dry Brown Patches or Sharp Drainage: Grass is surprisingly tenacious and frequently recovers on its own from drought following a good period of rain, even if the grass dries out and gets completely brown. This is so that grass may survive droughts by going dormant in response to a lack of water and coming back to life when it has access to moisture.
But if specific areas of the lawn are dying and turning brown in hot, dry weather, it may be worth checking to see if the soil is too sandy and not holding the moisture the grass needs to stay green.
In that situation, I advise performing the spot treatment depicted in the photographs above, which entails removing the damaged turf and replacing it with compost or top soil before planting grass seed.
For dry, brown spots, I advise using a loam-based top soil since loam contains some clay and organic matter, which greatly aids in moisture and nutrient retention.
Dog urine-related dying patches can be revived by watering the area as soon as you can, which helps to lower the nitrogen concentration that is the root of the withering, brown patch. However, it’s frequently required to remove the damaged brown patch and reseed the region.
It should be noted that both male and female dogs can leave brown spots on the grass that are withering, but female dogs are frequently to blame since they squat when they urinate, which concentrates the pee in one area.
Fuel spills sometimes cause dying patches of grass to reappear. However, if oil or fuel has leaked from your lawnmower or other garden tools, the grass will not regrow. Reseed the area after excavating the damaged section.
To prevent spills, always refill your lawnmower in the garage or shed before using it outside.
Avoid Setting Up Hedge Cutting Equipment on the Grass After Use: When I was a landscape gardener, I made the mistake of setting up a hedge cutter on the grass after it had been in use. The small metal plate on the underside of the hedge cutter managed to scorch a small patch of the grass.
Fortunately, the grass in this case was long enough to reach the tips, where the burned brown spot was, and the charred portion was cleared after mowing, leaving no trace.
Use a fork to check whether there is debris from construction projects underneath the turf to see whether it will revive brown patches. If so, try to cut the grass without harming it, remove the debris, add at least 3 inches of top soil where it was, and then reseed the lawn.
Revive Dying Patches Caused by Soil Compaction: Compaction can happen if the underlying soil is heavy clay, if cars have driven over the lawn, or if people have traveled the same path over the lawn.
Compaction limits root development, forces oxygen out of the oil, and obstructs appropriate water penetration, all of which cause withering patches of grass.
The greatest technique to revitalize the lawn is to aerate the soil using a fork. By turning the soil over in the damaged region, you relieve compaction, allow water to properly permeate so that the grass can benefit from the moisture, and allow air to reach the roots (essential for root respiration).
After poking holes every 5 inches with a fork over the afflicted areas, hydrate the area.
If you think your lawn may have a disease, we recommend writing a separate post to address the issue.
Grass Turning Brown and Dying
- Symptoms. The grass has brown tips or has a burned appearance.
- Causes. Drought brought on by a lack of rainfall, dull mower blades mowing the grass improperly, or subpar soil beneath the turf. Cutting grass too short makes it more susceptible to drought, which raises the chance of drought-related brown grass.
The most frequent causes of browning grass include a dull mower blade, a dry climate, and sandy soil that drains too quickly for roots to absorb moisture. When grass becomes brown, it usually means there is not enough moisture, and it will normally turn green again after a significant downpour.
To keep the grass from turning brown, it’s crucial to avoid cutting it too short when mowing. To maintain moisture and a green appearance, grass should ideally be maintained at a height of at least 2 inches.
In order to keep the grass looking green, you should only mow it about 1/3 of the way through each blade.
Because the grass cannot hold moisture as effectively and the roots are exposed to more intense sunlight, cutting the grass too short also increases the risk of drought, making the lawn look scorched brown.
A razor-sharp blade is essential for lush, healthy grass.
The lawn mower blade does not cut the grass neatly and instead bruises it, leaving dark wispy tips all over the lawn if it has been used for a long time or if it has been damaged by hitting stones or tree roots.
Of fact, during a drought, grass goes brown, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that it is dying; rather, it may simply be dormant and will come back to life after a rainstorm.
It’s usually because the underlying soil is sandy or stony and drains too quickly for the grass’s root to take up, leaving the lawn dry and brown, that the grass turns brown for the majority of the Spring and Summer.
The underlying soil must hold onto moisture in order for the lawn to remain strong and green.
Be aware that some trees have roots that extend just below the soil’s surface and compete with grass for moisture. Because tree roots are so good at absorbing rainfall, the outcome is dark, drought-stressed grass.
How to Revive Brown, Dying Grass
I must stress that in most areas, grass does not typically need to be watered because it may become dormant in the absence of moisture, get entirely brown, and still turn green and revive very fine after a period of heavy rainfall.
Watering your lawn is probably a waste of a valuable resource. If you want to maintain your lawn looking green and healthy, I would only advise watering established grass if you use rainwater collected in water butts.
You can use water to water your grass together with wetting chemicals to assist the moisture seep into the soil.
If so, irrigate your lawn once each week with an inch of water, or just enough to wet the top 8 inches (to reach the grasses roots).
If you reside in a dry climate, you might consider cultivating grass species that are far more tolerant of dryness.
Grass Turning Yellow
- Symptoms. Yellowing grass and weak growth
- Causes. Most likely as a result of poor underlying soil that cannot store a lot of nutrients and a deficiency in soil moisture. Herbicide runoff can occasionally result in yellow grass. Moreover, compacted earth is a possible culprit.
When there are insufficient nutrients and moisture in the soil, grass becomes yellow. Sandy, poor-quality soil with a deficiency in organic matter in its makeup lacks the nutrients grass needs to stay green and drains too quickly for the roots to draw up moisture, leaving grass with a yellow, dying appearance.
Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are the three nutrients that grass needs the most of in large amounts. All three of these elements are water soluble in some form, so they can dissolve in rain and quickly drain away in sandy soil. The most crucial component for green grass is nitrogen.
Of course, this results in a nitrogen shortfall and a yellow tint in the grass.
For this reason, after fertilizing a lawn, the grass may initially appear green. However, following a period of continuous rain, all the nutrients disintegrate and run away in the sandy soil without being retained, turning the lawn yellow once more.
Loam soil, which is made up of clay, organic matter (leaf mold compost, for example), and a few aggregates like sand or grit, is the greatest soil for growing grass.
Because of its structure, clay can hold onto nutrients and moisture, while organic matter does the same while supporting the ecology of the soil.
In order to facilitate proper drainage and an aerated structure and to create the ideal circumstances for healthy, lush grass, the sand or grit reduces the compaction of heavy clay.
Your lawn is likely to remain yellow and have limited growth if it is planted in very sandy, dry soil.
It should be noted that compacted soil caused by heavy clay or by vehicles driving back and forth over the soil (which is very common with new build property development) can cause grass to turn yellow because it restricts root growth and respiration, which prevents the roots from accessing the nutrients they require to stay green.
How to Revive Yellow Dying Grass
- There are two solutions if sandy, nutrient-poor soil is the root of your yellow grass. The first step is to remove the turf, add top soil with a loam base, and then reseed or re-turf the lawn. Because loam soil holds nutrients and moisture, it should help to keep the grass green over the long term. This creates the ideal environment for green grass. However, it is quite labor-intensive and expensive, so it is worthwhile to request quotes from nearby landscaping businesses to determine whether the investment is justified.
- The second alternative is to feed the lawn every spring and mow the lawn without the collection box in order to combat yellow grass caused by nutrient-poor soil. The issue with fertilizing lawns with subpar soil is that after the nutrients are assimilated, the grass becomes yellow once more.
- In contrast, the green grass from the well-fed grass is evenly dispersed around the lawn if you mow without the collection box. This grass decomposes quickly and is assimilated into the soil, increasing the organic content and enhancing moisture retention. It also retains certain fertilizer nutrients, which are later recycled, increasing nutrient availability and making the grass greener. Regular mowing keeps the lawn looking neat, and the evenly spaced grass cuttings quickly aerate the surface.
- In general, lawns with yellowing grass look better after regular spring feedings and irrigation.
- The yellowing grass is probably caused by compaction if the ground feels especially solid. In that instance, aerate the lawn by poking three-inch-deep holes every six inches (preferably with a machine if the lawn is huge) or with a fork on smaller lawns. A healthier grass is the consequence of lessening compaction, allowing water and nutrients to permeate the soil and reach the roots, and facilitating root respiration.
Grass Dying in Winter
Due to the underlying soil’s excessive moisture retention caused by its high clay content and higher levels of Winter rainfall, grass dies in Winter. As a result, the grass turns yellow or brown and withers away during the season.
Because of the slower rate of evaporation in the winter and the reduced amount of light, the lawn can remain soggy for a long period after a rainstorm.
Even though established grass is quite resilient, it cannot survive in constantly saturated soil because the extra moisture prevents oxygen from the soil from reaching the roots, which interferes with their ability to breathe and causes the grass to die.
Boggy soil in winter is typically caused by a high clay content in the soil, which can become impermeable and stop water from adequately penetrating the soil. However, low lying areas or even natural springs in the garden can also cause boggy soil.
How to Revive Dying Grass in Winter
It’s crucial to reduce soil compaction in the winter to help dying grass recover so that extra water from winter rains can drain away more efficiently.
Two measures can be taken to accomplish this effectively:
- If the area is vast, aerate the soil in the spring and fall using a garden fork or an aerating machine. By making holes in the clay, more water will be able to drain more efficiently as opposed to pooling around grass roots.
- Apply compost as a topdressing to the lawn. The soil’s structure is enhanced by the addition of organic matter, making the soil more porous and improving drainage.
This technique makes it more simpler and incredibly successful at enhancing the hard clay soil’s structure, which greatly facilitates grass growth.
It may be too difficult to keep a healthy lawn over the winter if your lawn has a natural spring or if it is low lying and muddy by nature, but it may recover its appearance during the drier spring and summer months.
New Grass Dying
The only time grass is particularly vulnerable is when turf has just been installed or grass seed has just begun to grow. Grass is one of the hardiest plants in any garden.
The best course of action is to prepare the ground before installing turf, and it is ideal to install turf (or plant grass seed) in the spring to give it the best chance of surviving since the roots can set up shop in the early, cooler spring weather so they can effectively absorb moisture before the high temperatures and blazing sunshine of summer.
However, provided it receives enough water, grass can be grown almost anytime of the year (except for the winter).
It is recommended to soak new grass almost daily. Always water deeply since this encourages the roots to develop deeply in the soil, making the grass considerably more drought-resistant.
If you water your plants too little, the moisture stays on the surface, causing the roots to become shallow and more susceptible to drought stress in hot weather.
It is likely that the underlying soil drains too quickly or that the roots cannot penetrate the ground because the soil is so hard and compacted if the young grass is dying despite liberal watering.
This happens frequently on newly constructed home projects because heavy vehicles drive over the area, compacting the soil, which frequently contains construction debris.
In order to create more hospitable, aerated, porous soil for growing grass, the area should ideally be forked over or a rotavator might be employed.
Applying compost or top soil to the earth’s surface to help retain moisture before establishing grass is advised if the soil is sandy, stony, or especially quick to drain.
However, if you have already installed turf, continue providing it with a generous soak every day (watering sparingly and frequently is ineffective) until the grass begins to reappear.
Given enough water, grass may often be rejuvenated even after it has turned yellow or brown.
- The main causes of dying grass are compacted soil and dryness. Due to the high heat and little rainfall during the summer, grass becomes brown and goes dormant. When the soil is overly compacted, the grass’s roots are unable to absorb moisture and nutrients as effectively, turning brown or yellow and appearing to be dying.
- Patches of dead grass are typically caused by dog pee, excessive fertilizer, or fuel spills. Too much nitrogen in dog urine results in circular brown patches with a bright green border, whereas too much fertilizer and gasoline spills burn the patch and cause it to become permanently brown.
- Brown grass is a result of either drought or a dull mowing blade. When grass is bruised by a blunt mower blade, it turns brown and has straggly ends. Low rainfall, high temperatures, and dry, sandy underlying soil all cause grass to turn brown.
- If the soil is soaked with water for an extended period of time, grass will become yellow. Insufficient oxygen in the soil and a lack of root respiration result in the death of the roots and the stress-related yellowing of the grass. Yellowing grass may also be a sign of nutrient-deficient soil.
- Winter grass that dies is typically caused by too much moisture in the soil. Wintertime has substantially lower evaporation and frequently heavier rainfall than the rest of the year. Because of the constant flooding caused by this, the grass may turn yellow and wither.
- New grass often dies because the soil is too compacted for the roots to take hold or because there is not enough water available. Due to insufficient rainfall or hydration, newly planted grass stops growing, becomes brown, and withers. The new grass roots cannot get the water and nutrients they require if the soil is overly compacted, which causes the grass to die.
- If the soil is compacted, aerate it with a fork and wait until it rains to revitalize brown, withering grass. Even if they are entirely brown, following a hard rain, most lawns quickly recover and turn green once more.
Can grass grow back after dying?
Dead grass cannot be revived, but you can start over by planting new sod in your landscape. Your lawn will need to be seeded with new seed or have the sod replaced if you notice any brown, barren, or thinning patches.
What is the fastest way to fix dead grass?
Raking the dead grass patches first will help to break up the soil and get rid of the expired blades. Aerate the soil to encourage root growth while lightly raking the healthy parts to remove any withering grass. Once the ground has been prepped, use a rotary seed spreader to cover the dead areas with fresh grass seed.
How long does it take to recover dead grass?
The majority of turfgrass can withstand four weeks without water, and certain tough types from the Turfgrass Group can last even longer. You might try watering your grass and waiting a few days to see if it begins to green up if you’re not sure whether it’s dead or dormant.
Can brown grass turn green again?
Rain will undoubtedly revitalize a drab lawn. However, watering your grass well once a week will help it recover its green color if rainfall is insufficient.
Will watering dead grass bring it back?
Try rehydrating the grass first if your lawn remains dormant for longer than four weeks. Rehydrate your lawn by watering it until the soil is five inches deep and completely saturated. Even though it is unlikely that this will make the grass greener, it will keep it alive until better conditions arrive.