No one enjoys looking at a brown lawn, and many people think that a brown lawn is dead or dying. The truth is a brown lawn does not automatically mean the lawn is dead or dying. Many times it means the lawn has entered dormancy.
Dormant grass acts as some animals do when they hibernate. It has basically gone to sleep. Grass locks up moisture, nutrients, and carbohydrates to keep itself alive through stress periods. When grass goes dormant, it conserves water and energy by sending its resources to the roots, keeping them alive during stressful conditions. Stressful conditions generally occur during extremely cold, hot, or dry conditions. Cool-season grasses like tall fescue and bluegrass are likely to go dormant during the hot, dry summer months. Warm-season grasses like zoysia and bermudagrass go dormant in the winter months.
It can be challenging to tell the difference between dead and dormant grass right away because both conditions appear the same. However, a “tug test” can help: grab some of the brown grass in your hand and pull. If the grass comes out with no resistance, it is likely dead. You can replace dead grass by seeding, sodding, or installing a new type of landscaping material.
How to Judge Your Grass
To determine whether your lawn is dead or dormant, take note of the following:
- Dormant grass often happens all at once. If you have brown patches amid bright green grass, the grass is likely dead.
- If your lawn is irrigated, check your irrigation system. Sometimes patchy grass may be due to sections of the lawn being watered improperly. If not enough water or too much water reaches an area due to irrigation failures, the grass may turn brown.
- More lawns are killed with too much water than not enough. If you decide to irrigate, water deeply and infrequently.
- Beetle grubs and other insects can kill your lawn by eating the grass roots.
What to Do for Dead or Dormant Grass
It is normal for grass to become dormant under extreme weather. It is important to reduce stress on the lawn during these conditions by mowing at the proper height with sharp blades. Also, minimize traffic as much as possible. If you need to mow, do so early in the morning or late in the day. Stay off the lawn if you can. The best thing you can do for dormant grass is to wait until the weather returns to ideal conditions and note how your grass returns to life. In some cases, you may help your dormant grasses come back quickly with extra care and a proper irrigation system.
Over-seeding is recommended whether your lawn has dead spots or not. Introducing improved varieties of the desired turf makes your lawn more resistant to damage during stressful periods. Fall is the best time to reseed your lawn. Spring is the next best time. Contact a lawn care professional at Scientific Plant Service to determine if your lawn is dead or dormant.
Scientific Plant Service Is Your Go-To Source In Landscape Healthcare
Scientific Plant Service, located in Baltimore, is a privately owned corporation, chartered in Maryland in 1957 by Frank J. Burke. We started as a full-service Arborists specializing in the care of shade trees and ornamental shrubs, but today we are a Lawn Care company that is a huge part of the community. From aquatic environments and snow management to deer and mole control, SPS has services tailored specifically for your lawn and landscape.
We offer services in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia, including: Harford, Baltimore, Carroll, Frederick, Howard, Anne Arundel, Montgomery, Prince Georges, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Calvert counties in MD, as well as Loudoun County, Fairfax County, Arlington, Alexandria, and Falls Church in VA. For more information, contact us online, or call us at 410-321-0970. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest!