A lush, green lawn is a source of pride for homeowners, but brown patches can quickly deminish its beauty and create quite the eye sore. There are several different factors and reasons that contribute to grass turning brown, often exacerbated by heat and environmental stressors. For most, when you see brown grass you think it has been underwatered, and while in some cases this is true, there are many other reasons your grass might be less than lush and green. So, why is your grass turning brown? 

      Factors That Contribute to Grass Turning Brown

      Drought Stress

      One of the most common reasons for grass turning brown is drought stress. When temperatures rise and rainfall has slowed down or stopped altogether, grass struggles to maintain its vibrant green color. The lack of water hinders photosynthesis and nutrient uptake, leading to brown, wilted patches. If you notice areas where the grass doesn’t bounce back when pulled on, it’s likely suffering from drought stress and needs more water.

      Solution: Ensure your lawn receives adequate water. Most lawns require about 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. Deep, infrequent watering encourages deeper root growth, making the grass more resilient to drought conditions, especially going into summer when your grass has adapted to heavier rainfall in the Fall-Spring months of the PNW.

      Lawn Diseases

      Fungal infections can also cause brown patches in your lawn. Diseases like dollar spot, brown patch fungus, and rust thrive in hot, humid conditions, typically manifesting as irregular brown patches with distinctive borders. These fungi weaken the grass by inhibiting nutrient absorption and disrupting cellular functions. While not as common in areas of the PNW, these infections can still cause havoc on your lawn given the right circumstances. 

      Solution: Treat affected areas with fungicides specifically designed to combat lawn diseases. Improve air circulation and reduce thatch buildup to create less favorable conditions for fungal growth.

      Soil Compaction

      Compacted soil restricts root growth and reduces the soil’s ability to hold water and nutrients to feed the roots of your grass. Over time this can lead to patches of brown grass as the roots struggle to access essential resources. Soil compaction is often exacerbated by heavy foot traffic, construction activities, or the use of heavy equipment on the lawn. Other causes are completely environmental, meaning the ground might be harder by nature, such as clay, and when installing grass/sod not enough top soil was put down prior to the grass seed or sod to provide the property nutrients long-term. 

      Solution: Aerate your lawn regularly to alleviate soil compaction. Aeration involves perforating the soil with small holes to allow air, water, and nutrients to penetrate the grassroots more effectively. Consider overseeding afterward to promote healthy grass growth.

      Insect Infestations

      Insects such as grubs and certain worms can wreak havoc on your lawn by feeding on grass roots. This feeding behavior weakens the grass, causing it to turn brown and die off in patches. Signs of insect infestations may include irregular patterns of damaged grass or the presence of larvae in the soil.

      Solution: Identify the specific pests affecting your lawn and apply appropriate insecticides if necessary. Encourage natural predators like birds and beneficial insects that prey on lawn pests. Maintaining a healthy lawn with proper watering and fertilization can also reduce susceptibility to insect damage.

      Pet Urine

      Pet urine is a leading culprit for grass turning brown. Dog urine contains concentrated amounts of nitrogen which can burn grass and create unsightly brown spots, especially in areas where dogs frequently urinate. The salts and other compounds in urine further contribute to grass damage, leading to brown patches over time.

      Solution: Dilute urine spots immediately with water to minimize damage. Encourage pets to drink more water to dilute their urine naturally. Alternatively, designate a specific area of your yard for pets to relieve themselves, such as a gravel or mulch patch.

      Excessive Fertilization or Watering

      While fertilizer and water are essential for healthy grass growth, too much of either can lead to brown spots. Excessive fertilizer application can burn the grass, causing it to turn brown and become brittle. Overwatering can suffocate roots by reducing oxygen availability in the soil, leading to similar symptoms of drought stress as mentioned above.

      Solution: Follow recommended guidelines for fertilization and watering to ensure you can manage your grass turning brown. Use slow-release fertilizers to provide nutrients gradually and avoid burning the grass. Monitor soil moisture levels and adjust watering schedules based on weather conditions and soil type.

      In order to maintain a green, healthy lawn, you have to have a deep understanding of the underlying causes of brown grass in addition to taking proactive steps to address them. Regardless of what issue you are facing, your grass turning brown is never appealing. By implementing proper lawn care practices and promptly addressing any signs of distress, you can rejuvenate your lawn and enjoy a vibrant, lush green lawn year-round.

      Remember, healthy grass not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of your home but also contributes to a cooler environment, reduces erosion, and improves air quality, so if you notice your grass turning brown, make sure to act fast. With consistent care and attention, your lawn can thrive and become the envy of the neighborhood once again now that you know how to handle grass turning brown. Ready to rejuvenate your lawn? Contact our office today!