Your garden may be your haven, something you spend lots of time perfecting and making into a space you’re proud of. A striking mix of colours and scents create a part of your home that you and your family love. Sometimes, though, disaster can strike, and the once vibrant space can turn into something that has seen better days very quickly.
Brown patches starting to appear on your lawn can suddenly made this well-loved area much less attractive. However, understanding the cause and taking action quickly can help save the day.
Why does my lawn have brown patches?
Looking around your garden, you may have spotted brown patches on the lawn. This can cause some alarm, especially if your garden project is something you are particularly proud of.
A lawn exhibiting brown patches means one of two things: it is either dormant or dead. Before you do anything, it’s worth fully investigating which of the two it is, as sometimes you won’t need to do much at all to get your lush, green lawn back to full health.
What is a dormant lawn?
A dormant lawn means that your grass has entered a dormant state. It is still alive, but has become dormant to protect itself. If you live in a cooler area, where cool season grass thrives your grass may goes dormant when the weather becomes warmer and there is too little rainfall to keep your grass green. Cool season grass generally thrives in cold winters and hot summers. Warm season grass, on the other hand, goes dormant when extremely cold weather hits.
Your lawn will turn brown to protect itself and will look dead, but is still very much alive. A small part of it, known as the crown, is simply waiting for moisture and once it receives some, the lawn will start to turn green again.
What is a dead lawn?
A dead lawn will appear much the same as a dormant one – lifeless and brown in appearance. A dead lawn will not respond, no matter what action you take. It is distinguishing the difference between the two that allows you to determine which steps to take next.
How will I tell if my lawn is dead or dormant?
A few simple checks can help distinguish whether your lawn is dead or just in a dormant state.
Apply a tug test
The first thing you should do is try a ‘tug test’ – simply tug at a handful of grass. If it comes up right away, the grass is dead. If you are met with a little resistance and have to pull harder to upend the grass, it is likely to be dormant.
Check how the brown patches are forming
When a lawn goes dormant, it tends to happen in a uniform manner, unless the dormant state is caused by one area not being watered as much as others. It won’t normally happen in patchy or inconsistent sections. If brown patches and spots appear despite the whole lawn receiving the same amount of sun and water, the grass is likely dead. If the lawn is uniformly brown, performing a tug test and watering will be the only other ways to determine the status of the lawn.
Test lawn dormancy by watering
When watering a dormant lawn, you will likely see results relatively quickly, with the grass growing and turning greener. However, if nothing changes after 4 weeks, your grass is likely to be dead. If it does start to show signs of life, that’s great. Just be aware that this first sign of dormancy may indicate that your current lawn care schedule needs adjusting to prevent further dormancies.
How do I care for dormant grass?
A dormant lawn isn’t a dead lawn. If dormant, a lawn needs to be well-protected first and foremost. You can return it to full health by following a few simple steps:
- Reduce footfall on the grass
- Mow only when needed
- Water just enough to keep it alive (we recommended half an inch every 2 weeks)
- Avoid fertiliser
- Remove any weeds by hand
If there is no change after 4 weeks of gentle care, you can attempt to rehydrate it. Water the lawn so that soil is wet to 5 inches deep. A change may not be apparent right away, but this may help keep it alive until the climate changes sufficiently.
What could have caused my lawn to die?
If your lawn is dead, you can prevent it from happening again by considering the following with your next lawn:
Drought – this is one of the most common causes of dead lawns. One inch of water per week is all you need to keep it thriving.
Thatch – you may not have heard this term before, but thatch is where decaying blades of grass build up and effectively suffocate the healthy grass.
Mowing – whilst mowing keeps your garden looking smart, if your blades are a little blunt, they will tear the grass rather than cut it. This causes damage to the grass and can lead to it dying.
Pet waste – our animal companions love to play outside and often use the lawn to do their business. The ammonia content of their waste can destroy patches of grass and turn it yellow. However, if you aren’t a pet owner and are still noticing these yellow spots, it could instead be due to birds, or other garden invaders like foxes or hedgehogs.
Fertiliser – using fertiliser is encouraged to keep your garden healthy. However, too much of anything is a bad thing, and too much fertiliser can certainly harm your lawn. The content can damage the roots of the grass, causing it to die and leave large brown patches.
What is the best solution for a dead or dormant lawn?
To remove the possibility of either of these happening, an artificial lawn is often the best option. Safe for pets, green all year round and easy to look after, there is no concern of unwanted pests or the elements degrading the quality of your lawn. Artificial lawns allow you to keep a family-safe, evergreen garden that required the lowest level of care. They also save on your water bill.
At The Sussex Artificial Grass Company, we specialise in Easigrass for the best-looking, safest-to-use artificial lawns. If you want to turn your garden into a visual masterpiece, contact us today to learn more. We can provide samples, quotes and even site visits. Complete with a long lasting 8-year guarantee, Easigrass is the solution to all your lawn concerns.