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There are few things more frustrating and disappointing than seeing your once-beautiful, lush green lawn turn brown and start to die off. Unfortunately, a browning lawn is often hard to diagnose for homeowners, so the solution might seem elusive to most. This guide will explain all of the reasons your lawn might be turning brown, and we’ll provide some of the most reliable solutions to each problem.
Before we begin, it’s worth noting that the majority of homeowners benefit greatly from hiring a professional lawn care company to diagnose and treat their brown lawn problems. TruGreen is one of the best companies for the job, providing a huge array of services that goes far beyond fixing dying grass. The company’s work is backed by science as well as TruGreen’s customer satisfaction guarantee, making them a safe option for fixing your issue.
Part of the reason a browning lawn is so difficult to diagnose is that there are many reasons your grass can be turning brown. We’ll discuss the six most likely issues you might be experiencing below, and we’ll include a solution for each one.
Every grass species needs adequate water to thrive, so drought conditions or excessive heat could be preventing your lawn from getting enough water from the soil. This is a common cause of brown spots in the Southern United States, especially for homeowners who have grass species—like turfgrasses, bluegrass, or cool-season grasses—that don’t hold up well to the higher temperatures. However, it can happen in any climate if you’re underwatering your lawn.
If drought conditions or heat stress is the issue, you’ll likely notice your grass starting to wilt before turning brown. The browning will typically occur across your entire lawn and not in small sections. You might also notice that the grass blades don’t spring back up after you step on them and instead hold your footprints. Most lawns that aren’t getting adequate water will also turn a bluish-gray color before turning brown and dying completely.
As you might have guessed, the best thing you can do if you identify a lack of water as the underlying issue is to water your lawn! Many homeowners believe that they can rely on natural precipitation to keep their lawns adequately watered, but that is not advisable. You should get yourself on a schedule of providing a deep watering—an inch of water or so—once every two weeks or so or weekly if you live in a drought-prone area or a very warm climate. Using automatic sprinkler heads is the easiest way to maintain this schedule.
There are many different pests that can threaten the health of your grass, including lawn grubs and chinch bugs. Lawn grubs are larvae that feed on the grassroots and prevent your lawn from getting the nutrients and water it needs from the soil. Chinch bugs pierce the grass blades and feed on them, destroying the grass from above. Both infestations can cause brown spots on your lawn.
If lawn pests are your problem, you’ll typically notice dead patches in your lawn of irregular shapes and sizes. You might notice holes in the grass blades, excessive grub activity when digging up a portion of your lawn, or more birds and raccoons feeding on your lawn than normal.
There are a few natural ways to remove lawn pests, depending on the type you’re experiencing. You can put down beneficial nematodes, milky spore, neem oil, diatomaceous earth, or corn gluten meal. You can also dry out your lawn to minimize the insect population—this is especially useful for grub control. You also have the option of using a commercial insecticide, but you need to be extra careful not to kill off all of the beneficial insects in your lawn when using these products.
Many homeowners don’t realize how prevalent lawn diseases can be. There are many different diseases you could be experiencing that are causing your lawn to turn brown. These include brown patch disease, dollar spot lawn disease, rust lawn disease, snow mold lawn disease, summer patch, and more.
The signs of these diseases vary based on which one you’re experiencing, but most result in uniform browning on areas of your lawn. You might notice odd discoloration—like yellow or reddish-brown grass—or telling shapes of discoloration, like crescents or rings of browning grass. In many cases, it’s best to have a professional lawn maintenance company like TruGreen in to diagnose your lawn disease, as many of them look similar.
Preventing lawn disease in the first place is best, and you can do this by avoiding mowing too low by raising your mower blades, watering deeply and infrequently, and ensuring that your yard has adequate drainage. If you find a lawn disease infiltrating your property, you can use natural methods—like neem oil or compost tea—in some cases, but calling in a professional to apply the right fungicide or commercial treatment is your best bet for bringing your lawn back to its original beauty.
Many homeowners inadvertently cause brown spots on their lawn by providing too much of a good thing. For example, fertilizers are great for providing your grass with the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium it needs to thrive, and watering your lawn is essential for maintaining health. However, too much fertilizer, too much water, or too much of both can actually cause browning.
Identifying these issues will really require that you pay attention to how often you fertilize, which fertilizer you’re applying, and how often you’re watering. Symptoms of these issues will look a lot like other problems, including large patches of browning or your entire yard slowly dying off.
To fix these issues, you’ll first want to ensure you get your lawn on a proper fertilization and watering schedule. Read the instructions on the fertilizer and make sure you’re applying it accordingly. Some slow-release fertilizers should only be put down once per year, while others need reapplication every eight weeks or so. Additionally, you should aim to water your lawn deeply once every two weeks rather than do shallow waterings regularly. You can safely do a deep watering once a week if you live in a hot or dry climate.
Weeds are the bane of many homeowners’ existence, and most people will be able to tell when weeds are the issue. Most weeds—including broadleaf weeds, grassy weeds, and grass-like weeds—compete with your grass, pulling vital nutrients and water that your lawn needs to thrive.
Luckily, it’s usually very easy to identify if weeds are the issue, as you’ll be able to see them growing in your grass. Some common weeds that can cause browning include dandelions, crabgrass, quack grass, nutsedge, and white clover.
Most homeowners will turn to herbicides to treat their weed-ridden lawns, but you have to make sure you’re using the proper product at the right time. Applying a pre-emergent weed killer in early spring can help keep weeds from establishing a root system, but using a preventative product in the summer and fall will do nothing to solve your issue. It’s quite the opposite for a post-emergent weed killer. If you find that the herbicides you’re using aren’t helping, we recommend contacting TruGreen for help, as they can provide targeted weed control depending on the species you’re seeing on your property.
Finally, pet waste can be a problem for your lawn and can rapidly cause browning. Pet urine contains high levels of nitrogen. While nitrogen is an essential nutrient for a healthy lawn, too much will cause browning and eventually kill the grass, much in the same way that over-fertilizing will lead to browning.
Identifying burns from pet waste is typically easy because the brown spots are small and appear where your pets relieve themselves most frequently.
To prevent browning from pet waste, you can water the area where your pet goes after each time they go outside. This will help disperse the nitrogen compounds. If your grass is already browning, you can use a lawn reviver on the affected area and have your pet go somewhere else on your property. If the grass is dead, you can lay down grass seed to regrow your lawn.
When it comes to fixing brown spots on your lawn, you’ll have two options: implement a solution yourself or hire a professional lawn care company. There are pros and cons to each option, which we’ll discuss below.
Hiring a professional to cure your browning lawn is typically the preferred method. Brown patches can be caused by a number of underlying problems, and identifying which one is the issue can be challenging. A lawn care specialist will be able to assess your lawn using a soil test, determine the exact problem, and implement the ideal solution.
One of the best lawn care companies for treating brown spots on your property is TruGreen. TruGreen has many lawn services to choose from, including five plans and a la carte offerings, which allow you to get your browning lawn fixed and optimize your lawn health thereafter. The company’s technicians are highly trained, and their work is backed by the company’s healthy lawn guarantee.
Some homeowners prefer to save on labor costs and do the work themselves. If you’re comfortable figuring out the problem and solution yourself, you can sometimes save hundreds of dollars, depending on the problem. However, you might also make the problem worse or waste money if you fail to identify the problem properly.
If you’re going the DIY route, we recommend Sunday Lawn Care. This company provides the products you need based on a soil test but lets you do the work yourself to save on labor.
Finding brown spots on your lawn can be discouraging, especially if you take steps to maintain lush, green grass. Unfortunately, there are many things that can cause browning to occur, so identifying the issue and getting the proper treatment is difficult.
That’s why many homeowners turn to professional landscaping companies for the solution they need. TruGreen is one of the best options if you’re looking for a pro. The company has highly-trained technicians who are adept at identifying the underlying problem, professional solutions to solve it quickly, and a customer satisfaction guarantee to bring you peace of mind throughout the entire process.
Fixing brown grass is more challenging than it might seem. There are many underlying issues that could be causing the discoloration, so you’ll have to identify which one you’re experiencing and implement the correct solution, which we’ve detailed above. You can prevent brown patches on your lawn in many cases by watering and fertilizing appropriately.
If you have brown patch fungus, your best option is to reduce your watering to once every two weeks and apply a fungicide. Improving air circulation in your soil can also help, so you might need to reduce the thatch layer by dethatching or getting lawn aeration services.
Yes, but only if it is brown and not completely dead. Dead grass will not return to normal, which is why catching lawn issues and treating them before they become severe is crucial for maintaining overall lawn health.
Unfortunately, overwatering can cause your grass to turn brown, so make sure you’re following an appropriate watering schedule for your type of grass. If you’re watering as you should be, the issue is likely not drought conditions or heat stress. You should consider the other underlying causes we’ve mentioned above or call in a professional like TruGreen for guidance.
If browning is occurring only in the summer, the likelihood is that your grass is suffering from a lack of water or heat stress. You might want to consider increasing the frequency at which you water your lawn to help prevent the browning from leading to a dead lawn.
At House Method, transparency and trust are our most important values for the reader. That’s why we took the time to create an objective rating system and score each lawn company/service according to our methodology.
Our research team dug deep into the fine print of contracts, combed through more than one hundred customer reviews, and thoroughly investigated all of each lawn care service’s services, costs, and products. We’ve done the homework for you by researching nearly all of the lawn care companies on the market so you can have the information you need to make the best choice for your home.
We developed a formula to objectively determine the best lawn care companies and give each a score out of 100 based on the following criteria:
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