How to Revive Dead Grass: The Step-by-Step Guide

By Britt Olizarowicz

Having a healthy lawn is a top goal of many homeowners. Unfortunately, there are times when a dead lawn can create quite a bit of work for you. In our guide showcasing how to review dead grass, we provide:

  • Step-by-step instructions for how to revive dead grass
  • How to be sure your new grass doesn’t die
  • Proper lawn maintenance techniques to keep your new lawn healthy

Whether this is the first time you have struggled with dead grass, or it’s been a recurring issue, we have the solutions you need to get a green and lush lawn again.

First: Is Your Grass Dead or Dormant?

One of the first major mistakes that homeowners make is thinking their entire lawn is dead when it is just dormant. This is a mistake that is easy to make, but one you must be aware of before you start in this process.

Many grass types will go dormant at some point throughout the year, and they will turn brown. Grasses like Bermuda may look like they are dead, and others like Zoysia may look as though they have an issue.

The key is to look at the base of the grass blade and check its health. If this area is still strong, the grass is likely dormant grass. If this spot on the grass blade is starting to wilt or whither, your grass may be dead.

Can Brown Grass Turn Green Again?

Brown grass can absolutely turn green again. A brown lawn is sometimes an issue related to water or fertilization; it can green up. In addition, dormant grass will turn green as soon as the growing season starts up again.

9 Steps for How to Revive Dead Grass

Reviving dead grass is a process that all homeowners should be well aware of. If you follow the steps to revive dead grass, your lawn can look great again in a few months.

1. Determine the Cause of the Dead Grass

One of the first steps in this process is to figure out why your grass is dead. If you simply try to remove dead grass and plant new, you could have some underlying issues that will cause all of the new grown to die. Here are some of the main causes of dead patches on your lawn.

Disease, Weeds, Thatch, or Infestations

Look at the grass and see if you can find any signs of disease, weeds, excess foot traffic, thatch, or bug infestations. Before you can revive a dead lawn, these issues need to be cleared up.

Thatch is a very common one that can leave the grass choked of oxygen and make it difficult to grow. If you are not dethatching and aerating periodically, expect to have issues with this.

Wrong Grass Type for Your Climate

Another issue that homeowners struggle with is choosing the wrong type of grass. There are two main grass types, cool season grasses, and warm season grasses, and you must find one that matches your climate. If you want a healthy root system in your grass, the soil also has to be a match for the type of grass.

Poor Lawn Maintenance

If you are scalping your lawn with the mower or not watering often enough, chances are you will see issues with brown spots and dead patches. Always ensure that you have your sprinkler on a consistent timer and use it to keep your grass green.

2. Prep Your Lawn

The next step is to prepare your lawn in order to revive the dead grass. We highly recommend raking the area and getting a good look at the issue you are dealing with. Also, decide on the area that you are going to treat and measure it.

You will need products, and having an idea as to how large your space is will help you purchase the correct amount.

3. Removing Weeds

Next, you will want to remove any weeds in the area. If you don’t take care of the weed problem now, you may struggle with it again when you reseed or sod the area. Get a herbicide that can treat the types of weeds you deal with in your climate and spread it according to packaging instructions.

Be careful using a non-selective herbicide as these can sometimes linger in the soil and will cause issues for the new grass you are trying to grow. Spot treatment of weeds is also an option, as well as natural methods and pulling them manually.

4. Dethatch the Lawn

Dethatching the lawn allows air to make it back into the soil and gives the lawn a chance at healthy growth. You can use a basic dethatching rake to do this as it will have tines that dig into the soil a bit more and remove thatch. This is also a process that many professional landscapers can handle for you.

5. Aerate the Soil (by Tilling)

Aerating the soil helps to eliminate compaction and lets water, seed, and nutrients back into the ground. If you have sandy soil or loamy soil, aeration is still essential. If your entire lawn is not dead and you are simply trying to get your lawn back, sometimes aeration and fertilization are something to consider.

6. Test Your Soil pH

Before you plant any new seed or put sod down, do a soil test to see what condition the current soil is in. To get healthy grass, soil pH is really important, and sometimes it needs to be adjusted by putting the proper nutrients back into the soil.

7. Fertilize Accordingly

Find a starter fertilizer that is specifically for new grass. When you first seed or sod an area, you must wait for quite some time before fertilization. Therefore it makes sense to put a starter fertilizer down so that current nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels are in place before the new soil goes down.

Be sure not to over-fertilize at this point; remember that more fertilizer is not necessarily better; follow the directions accordingly, or you can put too much stress on the sod or seed you are about to lay down.

8. Plant New Grass Seed or Lay Sod

The next step is to plant new grass seed or lay sod. Laying sod is considerably easier and will give you an instant lawn, but it also comes at a much higher price tag.

Planting Grass Seed: Seeding and Overseeding

When planting grass seed, be sure you are first using the proper type. Use a spreader so that the grass seed goes on evenly and covers all of the areas that you need it to. In addition, after placing the seed, try to cover it with a thin layer of soil so that it does not wash away the first time it is watered.

Planting and Rolling Sod

Sod is very simple to put down. Simply lay the pieces out where you need them to go and then cut grass into the shapes you need to landscape around beds. One of the most important things about putting sod down is to use a lawn roller after the fact so that the sod starts to take root with the soil underneath.

9. Lawn Maintenance

Once your new grass seed or sod is in place, you need to be careful about lawn maintenance. Sometimes poor lawn maintenance is how you may have gotten into this situation. It’s really important to get the right practices down and start following them accordingly.

Watering Schedule

A watering schedule should be set up to ensure your new grass gets about an inch of water a week. In warmer climates where the water may evaporate quicker, more than an inch of water is likely necessary.

In addition, when you have just planted new grass seed, it’s important to keep the soil moist at all times. Do not soak the area too much as seed can run off, and you will end up with uneven patches of grass.

Set up a great schedule, and this may mean more frequent watering for less time in the beginning. Once the grass is established, it’s much better to water for longer periods less often.

Wait to Mow and Limit Traffic

Try to keep the area where you have just planted new grass safe from kids, pets, and any excess foot traffic. The last thing a new area of turf needs is stress, and these things can add additional stress to the lawn.

Wait a few weeks to mow until you see those grassroots are really taking place, and the mower is not going to destroy the turf. If things take a while to grow, don’t mow, as you risk the grass dying.

The Best Tips for Maintaining a Healthy, Green Lawn

Now that you have a step-by-step process for how to revive dead grass, we thought it would be best to give you some of our favorite tips for maintaining a healthy green lawn. Chances are you follow quite a few of these already, but here are a few ideas to make sure that your lawn is the envy of everyone on your block.

  • Get an irrigation timer and use it; knowing how much water your grass is getting and ensuring it is consistent will help avoid potential issues.
  • Grass clippings can provide nutrients and help grass grow thicker and greener; set the mower to mulch from time to time and let the clippings sit on your lawn.
  • Try to mow grass at least once per week in the growing season; taking off a smaller portion of the top of the blade will decrease the chance of stressing your lawn.
  • Always water in the morning; when watering at night, you set your grass up for potential fungus issues.
  • Weed control should be part of your regular maintenance; using a pre-emergent weed control will make it much easier to deal with post-emergent weeds
  • Lawn fertilization should happen several times per year, do a soil test before doing it so you know exactly what your grass needs.
  • Aeration, dethatching, and raking should be added to your lawn maintenance schedule; these things cannot be ignored.

Will Watering Dead Grass Bring it Back?

If your grass is genuinely dead, watering it will not bring it back. However, grass can be dormant or just browned out due to heat stress, and in that case, it will come back. The key is to look at the roots of your grass and decide what condition it is in. If the grass is truly dead, even watering it will not help it come back.

How Long Will it Take for Dead Grass to Grow Back?

If your grass is brown or dormant, it can sometimes take a few weeks for it to grow back. If you must replace your lawn, you can expect several weeks for the new sod to root in or the seedlings to grow to full size. It’s unfortunately not a very quick process, and you will have to be patient with it.

Should You DIY or Hire a Lawn Care Service to Revive Your Dead Grass?

The great thing about having to revive dead grass is that you will have options. You can choose to do this on your own, or you can have a professional come in and handle the process for you. A professional will take all the proper steps and ensure that the grass lasts for years to come, but there could be times that the professional charges considerably more. One of the keys here is to find someone with a strong reputation in the industry.

Our Top Pick: TruGreen Lawn Care

TruGreen is the best lawn care provider for reviving dead grass. The TruGreen experts have been in the industry for more than 15 years and focus on quality and impressive customer service. With TruGreen, you can expect a free quote to help you determine the issues you have had in your yard and start focusing on getting them fixed moving forward.

Best Overall

  • Large variety of plan options tailored to homeowners wants and needs
  • All services are backed and performed by TruExpert℠ Certified Specialists
  • Services provided in 49 states

Services and Pricing

TruGreen offers pricing and packages that will work for any homeowner. Once you have them revive your old turf, chances are you will want them to take care of it, so you never have to experience this problem again.

Here are the average monthly costs for TruGreen’s services:

  • TruMaintenance Lawn Care Plan: $49
  • TruHealth Lawn Care Plan: $59
  • TruComplete Lawn Care Plan, no overseeding: $83
  • TruComplete Lawn Care Plan, with overseeding: $98
  • TruSignature Lawn Care Plan, no overseeding: $108
  • TruSignature Lawn Care Plan, with overseeding: $125

Key Takeaways

Hopefully, you now see what is involved with reviving dead grass. Unfortunately, the process does take a bit of time, and you will have to get to the root cause of the issues with your turf. However, if you are smart about the steps you take, you will be able to have a green and lush lawn again. Taking time to test the soil and treat it appropriately cannot be understated.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of using a lawn aerator?

A lawn aerator will create holes in your soil that allow nutrients, water, and oxygen to penetrate the soil. This makes it considerably easier for you to manage the turf moving forward, making things like fertilization and weed control more effective.

Can dead grass be revived with fertilizers?

Dead grass cannot be revived with fertilizers. However, if the grass is simply nutrient deprived and not yet dead, the right combination of fertilizer can help to bring it back and green it up.

Why does dead grass turn brown?

Dead grass turns brown because of a lack of nutrients. With dead grass, you will notice that the roots of the grass are shriveled up, and the grass has no chance of coming back. However, dormant grass or grass that needs water or nutrients will still have a relatively strong root in place.

How can I make my brown grass green fast?

One of the first things to check when you have brown grass is whether or not water is necessary. Watering is one of the first steps to get your grass to turn green again, and it will make a tremendous difference as it is a quick recovery when the grass is water deprived. Next, it’s wise to see when the last time you fertilized as the right fertilizer makeup can help revive brown grass.

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