No one wants to look out on a lawn filled with brown patches of grass. But the good news is that the problem is quickly remedied so long as you identify the cause.
The most common reasons that grass turns brown are too much thatch, high heat, humidity, lack of water, acidic soil, weeds, mold, fungus, insects, and pet urine and feces. Brown patches form when there is a lack of nutrients in the soil and when the soil doesn’t contain enough food and water.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- The 8 reasons why grass turns brown
- How seasonal changes affect grass color
- How to restore a lush, green lawn
8 Causes of Brown Grass
Grass browning is often a natural part of the grass’s cycle, but you need to investigate to be sure. Here are some common causes of brown grass:
Thatch occurs when grass becomes thick with dead grass from mowing or from rapid weather changes. Decaying cut grass can smother healthy grass, leading to a lack of nutrients and brown spots.
Heatwaves and hosepipe bans can leave you wondering whether your brown grass is dead. If grass reaches a certain level of heat and dryness, it will go into a dormant state to protect its roots.
You may still have a chance of saving brown grass before it dies off if you act fast.
3. Inconsistent Watering
Automatic sprinkler systems and even manual watering with a hose sprayer can leave some areas drenched and other areas dry. You may see brown grass underneath green grass where there is an uneven distribution of water or where you water the grass in direct sunlight.
4. Soil Acidity
A lack of fertilizer, and even too much fertilizer, will unsettle the pH level of your grass. You may also notice that the fallen leaves from trees are turning the grass brown. As organic matter such as foliage decomposes, it activates microorganisms that lower the pH of your soil.
Weeds strangle grass, so how do you stop weeds from turning your grass brown? With the correct lawn care, you can prevent annual weeds such as crabgrass from propagating and turning your whole lawn brown.
Diseases from fungus and mold will discolor your lawn. Yellow grass is bad, but brown grass may be a sign that the disease has taken hold and that you will need to spend time bringing the grass back to life.
7. Bugs and Grubs
If your grass turns brown for no clear reason, it can be a sign of insects eating away at the roots. Chinch bugs and grubs will swarm between the turf and the soil. Large brown patches of grass that get larger by the day show that you need to deal with the problem quickly.
8. Pet Urine and Feces
This situation applies more to pet owners, and from the smell, the area that your pet is using should be obvious. Pet urine holds powerful urea, like in fertilizer. But the high concentration can cause fertilizer burn, which will dry out the roots turning the grass yellow or brown.
Why is My Grass Turning Brown Regardless of Watering?
Grass turning brown is one of many issues lawn owners have, even the ones putting in the time and effort. You should dig up small sections and inspect the roots of your lawn for insects, fungus, and over-watering.
Watering during the middle of a summer’s day can cause water droplets on the leaves to burn the grass. Nighttime watering or watering during the winter may cause the blades of grass to freeze, putting the grass into a dormant state.
Seasonal Changes Turning Grass Brown
Though you may think your grass would be happy to see the sun after a wet spring, the warm and humid air can turn your lawn brown. This is a normal cycle, and brown to yellow grass will bounce back.
Better weather also means that the lawn will get more use, and the increase in foot traffic will increase the chances of disease and wear.
Your lawn will start to go into dormancy to protect itself from the winter. Dormant grass will go yellow and brown but should come back to life as the spring comes around. Crabgrass will turn brown and die off, so this is a good time to dig dead crabgrass out from your lawn.
As the air temperature goes below 60oF for a week or more, the grass will go into a dormant state, turning brown and yellow. The best thing is to leave your grass and not to force it into life until the weather improves.
Dormancy is a way for the grass to preserve energy and prepare for strong growth in the spring.
The thaw that follows a harsh winter allows large amounts of organic matter to decompose. This allows all the nitrogen and carbon to be released into the grass at once. This has the same effect as dumping a large amount of fertilizer over the lawn, which would also turn it brown.
Warmer than average fall seasons encourage annual weeds to grow, hijacking nutrients and water from your grass. You may be able to prevent weed growth by spraying on herbicides.
How to Fix Brown Grass
Brown grass can lead you to wonder if your lawn will ever come back to life, but there is often an easy solution for turning brown grass green fast. There is nothing you can do about weather changes, but you can fix water levels, infestations, and soil pH levels with little effort.
What You’ll Need
- Aerator Shoes
- Grass Conditioner
- pH/Water/Soil Meter
- Grass Seed
1. Level the Dips
Start by trying to level out random high and low spots around your lawn. It is worth recording the places where puddles form as they occur so that you know where drainage is an issue.
You will need to cut and roll back that small section and then add soil to bring the dip up. You can then roll back the lawn and water the area.
2. Brown and Dead Grass
Where the grass has died and now shows soil, you will want to sow new seeds. You can also add new grass over the areas that were attacked by insects and disease. Check to see if the pH level of your soil is still suitable.
3. Clear Off the Grass
A leaf vacuum will speed up the process, but a garden rake is as effective at clearing away dead leaves, twigs, and other debris from your lawn. You want to remove all dying organic matter from the surface of your lawn to prevent brown patches.
If you spill chemicals or fertilizer over your lawn, spray the area with water to dilute the mixture.
4. Air and Drainage
Use aerator shoes to poke holes through your lawn and deep into the soil. These shoes will improve drainage and help oxygen to reach the roots.
5. Wait to Mow
After a dormant state, it will take time for your grass to go from brown to green. Even after going green, you should give the grass a chance to grow higher than you would usually allow for it to build up strength.
Waiting should prevent more brown grass from appearing after mowing.