How to Fix Patches of Dead Grass in Your Lawn

A gardener removing patches of dead grass from a lawn.

It can be difficult work to create a lush, green lawn. Even with fertilizing, weed control, watering and constant care, you may still experience brown spots on your lawn and dead grass. If you have areas of yellow or brown in your yard, it can be caused by a variety of issues that cause patches of dead grass in your lawn.

What Causes Brown Spots on Lawn?

Grass can be fickle and if the wrong elements are present, it can kill your beautiful lawn. Lawns tend to turn yellow or brown when they’re dry or dormant. When only certain spots are discolored, there are possible causes for this phenomenon, including:

  • Dog urine patches – the high nitrogen content in dog urine can burn the grass roots and leave behind brown or yellow spots on your lawn
  • Grubs – certain grubs will eat the roots of your grass, creating patches of dead grass in lawn
  • Fungus – wet conditions, even overwatering, can allow fungal growth that can create large brown spots on lawn
  • Heavy thatch area – accumulated thatch spots can choke the grass roots and keep them from receiving air, water and nutrients to grow
  • Poor lawn care – a variety of issues from dull mower blades to over fertilizing can cause brown spots on lawn

Identifying what is causing patches of dead grass in the lawn is important. Once you figure out what is creating the problem, you can determine how to fix dead grass and restore a lush, beautiful lawn and yard.

Treatment for Brown Grass Spots

If you have areas of dead grass on your lawn, you first need to stop the damage. Even if the grass looks dead, the roots may be able to be revived if you can stop whatever is causing the problem. Some of the following treatments may be effective to stop what is killing your grass in specific areas.

Dog Urine Burns
Unfortunately, if you have a dog and a lawn, you will likely experience dog urine burns, especially with big dogs. Watering the area where your dog urinates can dilute the nitrogen for preventing brown spots. Once a spot appears, adding some topsoil and grass seed can bring back the grass.

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Grubs
There are a few different grubs that can create patches of dead grass in lawn. They eat the roots, so the blades of grass remain and die, turning brown. You can pull back the sod and see whether there are grubs in the soil – six or more in a square foot should be considered an infestation.
Grub killer can stop the grubs from destroying your lawn. It is a treatment that can be used every spring when the grubs are in the larvae stage and easier to eradicate.
Fungus or Brown Patch Disease
One of the most common grass fungus problems that causes brown spot on lawns is rhizoctonia, or brown patch disease. This occurs in hot, humid weather or with too much watering. Apply fungicide and regulate watering to help your lawn overcome brown patch disease.
Thatch
If you have brown spots on your lawn that are caused by thatch, you need to consider thatch removal. This can be performed manually with a rake to remove the dead grass and debris, or with machinery. Core aeration can also improve soil that has been compacted.

How to Fix Dead Grass

Once you address what was causing patches of dead grass in the lawn, you need to revive your grass. If the grass was destroyed from grubs or urine burns, you may need to replant. Aeration/thatching, adding new topsoil, fertilizing and reseeding are how to fix dead grass spots and regrow new grass in these spots.

Proper lawn care is vital for prevention of new brown spots. If grubs, fungus, urine or thatch are not causing your dead grass patches, it may be your lawn care. A few lawn maintenance issues that can result in brown or dead spots in your grass include:

  • Dull mower blades that rip the grass versus cutting it
  • Fertilizing too often or too heavily can burn the grass
  • Mowing too low, or scalping, can create dead spots
  • Erosion and soil compaction are issues that need to be addressed

A lawn with patches of dead grass.
There are times when the best way to fix multiple dead grass areas is to reseed or lay sod for a new lawn. Starting over with aerated soil and new seed or sod can let you start from scratch and begin a new lawn maintenance plan.

If you have patches of dead grass in your lawn, there are ways to bring it back to life. For tough brown spots in your lawn that will not go away, consider hiring a landscaper for assistance. A professional can diagnose the problem and determine how to fix the dead grass in your lawn.