Why is My Grass Dying? 7 Easy Solutions for Brown Spots in Lawn 

If your lawn has ugly brown spots, you may wonder, “Why is my grass dying?” As perplexing as the problem is, there is most likely a simple solution.

Below, you’ll discover 7 common reasons for brown patches in your lawn. And, of course, how you can easily fix them.

Then, instead of returning from summer vacation to a dead lawn, you’ll have a beautiful, lush lawn you can enjoy.

beautiful green lawn

CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn how you can identify problems and eliminate brown patches in your lawn, including:

  • Assessing Soil Drainage
  • Is Your Lawn Thirsty?
  • Reseeding Large Patches
  • Removing Thatch from Your Lawn
  • Not Too Short!
  • Managing a Grub Problem
  • When to Apply a Fungicide
  • Final Thoughts | Why Is My Lawn Dying?

How Can You Eliminate Brown Patches On Your Lawn?

We Americans love our lawns.

That’s why 81% of us maintain lush, sprawling grass. According to statistics, at least 600 square feet of land is dedicated to ornamental gardening. 

Having a well-maintained lawn is pleasing to look at and adds curb appeal to your home. It’s also perfect for times when you want to host outdoor gatherings or enjoy some relaxation outdoors.

On the contrary, a lawn spotted with brown patches is not a good look. It can even be embarrassing, especially if you’ve worked hard to make your yard look nice. 

Fortunately, it’s easy to revive your garden and home landscape. 

Then way, you can spend more time enjoying your yard instead of spending hours trying to make it look good.

Here’s how.

1. Assess Soil Drainage

Ideal garden soil is light and workable, not compacted and hard. The best soil is soft, airy, and most importantly, has excellent drainage. 

So, when your lawn turns brown, the first step is to check the soil quality for compaction.

How do you do that? 

With the help of a screwdriver.

It’s easy to determine whether the soil is compacted by inserting the screwdriver into the soil.

If you struggle to sink the screwdriver into the dirt, it means the soil particles are too pressed together with a reduced pore space. That could be the main reason water and nutrients cannot drain properly to the base.

And compacted soil makes it difficult for roots to grow.

This is an especially common problem in areas that get a lot of foot traffic. But it can happen anywhere in your yard. 

The ripple effect of a compacted lawn is that excess water that stays too long on the surface. This ultimately kills your lawn. 

Over time, the grass blades turn brown. 

To avoid the effects of poor drainage and compaction, soil experts say lawn aeration is the way to go. 

This involves puncturing holes through the grass into the soil using spike or slicing aerators. You can even get aerators that slip over your shoes. That way, you aerate the soil as you walk!

For the maximum benefit, it’s a good practice to aerate your lawn twice a year.

2. Is Your Lawn Thirsty?

On the flip side of poor drainage is drought. An obvious answer to “why is my grass dying” might be that it’s not getting enough water. 

When it comes to watering an established lawn, a good rule of thumb is to give it about 1-inch of water per week. This can be from natural rainfall, watering the lawn yourself, or both.

If you’ll be on vacation, you’ll want to put automatic irrigation on a timer.

But even so, some areas might be trouble spots that can’t seem to get enough water. 

For instance, some trees such as Maple trees (Acer) have extensive, shallow roots. They suck up all the water before your grass gets its fill. 

In that case, the simple solution to brown patches is to provide more water to those areas. 

That way, you’ll eliminate the brown patches in your lawn.

3. Re-grass the Area if Brown Patches are Extensive

In extreme cases, when patches are extensive, the only solution may be to re-grass the entire area. 

It might be disappointing to let go of your hard work, but it’s an effective solution. 

When growing grass seed, remember to spread a thin layer of organic matter on the surface. This will encourage quicker growth.

It’s best to scratch up the soil surface before you spread new seed so the seeds make good contact with the soil.

You’ll have good luck if you start grass seed in the cooler growing months and keep it moist until it sprouts. Even better yet, is if you reseed when the weather forecast calls for light rain.

Either way you’ll want to avoid letting the new seed dry out. 

You can also opt to install sod, which is pre-grown grass.

If necessary, you can hire experts to help so that you can get it right.

4. Regularly Remove Heavy Thatch from Your Lawn

Too much thatch is another reason your lawn may have brown patches. 

What is thatch?

Thatch is a mixture of dead stems, leaves, and roots that accumulate on lawns or grassy areas.

A small amount of finely chopped grass clippings can help retain moisture and return nutrients to the soil. Mulching mowers do exactly that.

But a heavy thatch stops the soil beneath from receiving adequate water, air, and vital nutrients. 

When your lawn has a thick layer of thatch in a particular spot, it acts as unnecessary soil cover.

The result is you suffocate your lawn. It is also known for providing the perfect breeding environment for fungi.

One way you can reduce heavy thatch is by gently raking the lawn to prevent accumulation. Alternatively, bag up any grass clippings and other organic matter and add it to your mulch pile.

5. Not Too Short!

Another cause of dying grass is cutting it too short.

This is very common when you go on vacation and come back to an overgrown lawn. So you proceed to mow it short and then it turns brown.

In general, you don’t want to cut more than one-third the height of the grass blades. Otherwise, you risk shocking the lawn.

The best solution for this problem is to hire someone to mow while you are away. If you’re mowing yourself, mow more often and raise your mower blade so you don’t cut too much at any one time.

Remember, don’t cut more than one-third!

6. Do You Have Grubs?

Grubs are disgusting little insects that can cause brown patches in your lawn. They are the immature version of beetles.

As they grown and develop, they munch on your grass roots. You’ll notice brown patches in your lawn wherever they are feeding.

The best way to find out if you have grubs is to dig up a section of the soil. If you find these white-bodied insects with an orange head and legs, you’ve got grubs.

And, they can multiply in no time. This causes significant lawn damage.

Worse, when they develop into beetles, they’ll do a job on the foliage and flowers in your garden.

If the patch of damaged grass is small, you can dig up the soil and hand pick the grubs. Then, you can dispose of them in soapy water, crush them, or put them in your bird feeders. (What a treat!) 

But that takes some time and effort – and it’s no fun if you’re even a little squeamish.

In that case, opt for an organic solution.

You’ll want to apply a bacterial treatment of Bacillus thuringiensisbt (Bt) to the lawn. This natural bio solution will address your grub infestation.

You may need to reapply, but it’s an easy task. 

And it’s much better than fighting grubs one-by-one!

7. Apply a Fungicide if the Cause is a Microorganism 

How can you determine if the brown patches on your lawn are because of fungi activity? 

Usually, when the soil is not compacted, and there is no issue with thatch accumulation or grubs, the most likely reason is fungi. 

A telltale sign is the appearance of a powdery or threadlike substance on affected portions of the grass.

It’s known as brown patch disease brought about by a fungus (Rhizoctonia).

The disease spreads if you don’t pay attention to it very early. In no time, your sprawling luscious green would become several patches of tanned grass. 

You’ll most often encounter this problem when the weather is hot and humid.

So, keep an eye out for this problem towards the middle and late summer months.

Another culprit for this fungi problem is over-fertilizing with nitrogen.

One telltale sign to recognize a fungal problem with your lawn is a smokey circular border around a ring of dead grass.

Fungicide products made specifically for these grass infections are excellent at tackling these brown patches.

(Also, you should ease up on the use of nitrogen fertilizers.)

Final Thoughts | Why is My Grass Dying?

They say “the grass is always greener on the other side.”

But that doesn’t have to be the case.

Sure, having a beautiful lawn care requires some attention and a little commitment. And while it’s true that problems may arise, you can nip them in the bud if you catch them early.

Then, you can look forward to relaxing and gazing upon the results of your efforts with pride.

And so will your neighbors.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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