Homeowners strive for a beautiful, green, luscious lawn in their yard. It adds so much appeal to your home’s exterior. So when your grass is yellow or brown and the health of your yard is in question, you may be confused and concerned as to what to make of it. Brown grass can be caused by a number of reasons, so it is important to get to the root of the problem as soon as possible, that is if there is a problem.

Many people are surprised to learn that just because their grass is brown, doesn’t mean it is dead. It may just be dormant. The tricky part is that it’s hard to tell the difference between dead and dormant grass. When your grass is dead, it will not come back to life. On the other hand, if it’s dormant when the conditions are right, your green lawn can return back to its beautiful condition.

What is Dormancy?

Grass often becomes dormant to protect itself from weather conditions that are not conducive for your type of grass (i.e. hot summers or cold winters). Dormancy gives cool-season grass the ability to preserve its nutrients and energy for use later when the cool weather returns. If grass did not become dormant, it would use its nutrients and energy to remain green. But during dormancy, the grass’ resources are used to allow the roots to survive.

Dormant grass can be revived as long as it does not remain dormant for too long. Cool-season grasses are usually revived naturally once the temperatures become cooler. So the burning question many people have is: “how do I know if my grass is dead?” ISR Gardening gets this question often, so we decided to list some ways you can tell the difference between dead grass vs dormant grass.

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1. Try the Tug Test

Simply looking at brown grass won’t help you determine whether it is dead or dormant, but tugging on the grass will. Locate a section of the grass that is brown and use your hand to pull on the grass. If the grass is easily uprooted without any resistance, the grass is dead. But if there is resistance when you tug, the grass is still connected to its roots and alive. If your grass is dead, you will need to take measures to establish your lawn all over again because the dead grass is not going to grow back. You can either accomplish this through seeding or sodding. Another option you have is to do something completely different with that particular area of the yard with different landscaping materials such as mulch or rocks.

If you decide to seed, the first thing you need to do is mow the grass using a lower setting so that you can cut off more grass than you typically do when you mow. Doing this will help the seeds reach the ground more easily. Also, be sure to prepare the soil to make sure it has enough of the right nutrients to provide a healthy environment for your seeds to grow. This should be done before you plant a new seed. Seeding is the easier method of regrowing a lawn. Trying to lay sod over dead grass is more laborious because you would need to remove the dead grass completely and do all the prep work on the soil before you can install new sod. However, the decision is entirely up to you. Whichever method you use, you will need to water the ground frequently in the weeks after seeding or sodding so that your grass grows and flourishes.

2. Look for Patterns

Take some time to study your lawn to see whether there are particular areas where the grass is brown. If you notice that the entire lawn is brown, it is most likely dormant. But if there are some particular areas where the grass is brown, this may indicate dead grass patches, and there are a number of reasons for this.

Sometimes the grass is invaded by pests or infected with a disease that may cause some of your grass to die. If this is the case, you want to determine what the problem is so you can fix it. This is where the help of a professional landscaper comes in handy. Experts like ISR Gardening have the tools and the knowledge to help you diagnose and treat various diseases, or rid your grass of harmful pests that may damage your lawn.

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3. Consider Temperature Changes

Changes in temperature will impact the way your lawn looks. So yellowing or browning should be expected at certain times of the year. The type of grass you have will determine when you can expect to see it become dormant. Cool-season grasses become dormant during the summer, while warm-season grasses will become dormant when the temperatures drop during the winter months.

Knowing the type of grass you have can clear up some confusion on whether your grass is dead or dormant. During these periods, the grass will still be alive, and once the temperatures reach a favorable range again, your lawn will become green. A way to have a green lawn throughout the year, regardless of the season, is to plant a mixture of cool and warm-season grasses.

4. Follow Watering Schedule

Hot, dry weather may make grass dormant, but if the grass is not taken care of during these conditions, the dormant grass may end up dying. To prevent this from happening, make sure that your lawn is receiving enough water.

Stick to a regular watering schedule so your grass has enough moisture to survive dry conditions. With adequate watering, the dormant grass will eventually become green again. If you are watering your grass regularly and it remains brown, then it is dead.

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Dead or Dormant Grass? Restore your Lawn Today!

Brown grass is unsightly, but knowing whether your brown grass is dead or dormant will determine what you need to do to restore your lawn to its former glory. If you have any questions about your lawn, get professional insight by calling ISR Gardening. We’ll be happy to provide answers and help get your lawn back in tip-top shape again.