Common Causes of Brown Patches in Your Lawn & How to Repair Them


A beautiful, green lawn can be a source of pride for any homeowner, but brown patches can quickly ruin the look of your outdoor space. Brown patches in your lawn can be caused by a variety of factors, with the most common being over or under-watering, fungus, pests, and thatch. The good news is that once you identify what’s causing the patches, repairing your lawn is possible!

Common Causes of Brown Patches in Your Lawn

Before you can begin repairing your lawn, it’s important to identify the cause of the damage. This will help you determine the best course of action for remediation and prevent the brown patches from coming back.

Too much or too little water: When you over-water your lawn, its soil can become compacted, which makes it harder for water and air to reach your grass’s roots. It also leads to shallow root growth, which makes your grass more susceptible to damage from heat and drought.

When you don’t water your lawn enough, your grass can start to go dormant, causing it to turn brown or even die. Most established lawns need about 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week during the growing season. This keeps the top 6 to 8 inches of soil, where turfgrass roots grow, moist. You want water to soak the soil deeply to help your grass develop strong roots and drought resistance, so break up watering into one or two longer applications per week instead of shorter daily applications.

Lawn Fungus: Yards that have dead, brown sections and bare spots can be the result of lawn fungus or disease. If left untreated, the problem may continue to spread and cause severe damage. Fungus can be caused by a variety of factors but most commonly it’s due to weather conditions like heat/humidity. Overwatering or continuous wet conditions, soil compaction, or mowing your lawn too short are other factors that may lead to fungus.

Grubs: Grubs are small, soft-bodied insects with six legs. They live in soil to feed on decaying organic matter and are often mistaken for worms because they move slowly through the ground. If left untreated, grubs will destroy beautiful lawns in days by eating away at the root system, leaving you with bare spots, brown areas, and less dense sections.

Signs of grubs in your lawn include soft, spongy grass that can easily be pulled back. An increase in birds, racoons, or other wild animals digging in your lawn can also be an indication of a grub infestation.

Thatch: Thatch, or the appearance of brown and gray buildup on your lawn from dead roots, stems, and grass, compacts your lawn’s soil, leaving less room for essential nutrients to reach its roots, causing it to be stressed and turn brown. You can break up thatch using a rake.

How to Repair Brown Patches in Your LawnHow to Repair Brown Patching in Your Lawn

Once you’ve identified the cause of the brown patches in your lawn, you’ll have a better understanding of how to prevent them from happening in the future and can also begin repairs

Step 1: Remove the Dead, Brown Grass

Use a rake or shovel to remove the dead grass and any other debris in the affected area. This will help prepare the soil for new grass seed.

Step 2: Prepare the Soil

After removing the dead grass, use a rake to loosen the soil in the affected area. If you are repairing a larger area, use a lawn aerator. Breaking up the soil will improve drainage and allow air and nutrients to reach the roots of your new grass seed.

We also recommend using a pH test to determine if your soil is missing vital nutrients for healthy grass growth. In Northeast Ohio, grass typically flourishes in soil with a pH range between 6.0 and 7.0. If your soil’s pH is too acidic or too alkaline, you can correct it by adding ground limestone or compost respectively.

Step 3: Seed the Area

Once you’ve chosen the best grass seeds for your lawn it’s time to spread. The easiest way to spread the seeds evenly is to use a seed spreader, which you can typically find at a local DIY store.

Step 4: Fertilize

Fertilizer ensures your grass receives the essential nutrients it needs for proper growth and will also help it fight off weeds. Learn more about fertilizing your lawn.

Step 5: Water

After you’ve planted and fertilized your grass, it’s time to water. When watering a newly seeded lawn, it’s important to keep the top inch of the soil moist. Mist the area once or twice a day, ensuring it does not become soggy. When the grass reaches about 3 inches and can be mowed, you can begin watering one to two times per week. Learn more about watering your lawn.

Note: If your lawn has grubs, you should also apply a grub control treatment before planting new grass.

The best way to prevent brown patches from coming back is to keep up with a regular lawn maintenance routine that includes mowing, watering, fertilizing and weed control applications.

Lawn Care Services

If you need help repairing brown patches in your lawn, the lawn care experts at LawnMatters can help. Contact us to learn more.

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