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Why Is My Lawn Turning Brown?

You may be surprised that it’s not uncommon for lawns to turn a brown colour during the height of Summer. Your lawn is may not be dead. If your lawn includes any of the following cool season grasses such as, rye, fescue and bluegrass, then it’s likely that your lawn is in fact turning brown because it is entering a semi-dormancy state, which is normal for these grass types during high temperature periods. You may notice the plant doing this in both high and low temperatures in order to protect itself.

You can avoid this by watering the lawn every 3 to 7 days for between 60-90 minutes a time. Or alternatively, you could let your grass enter into it’s Summer dormancy state, knowing that it will return to normal once normal temperatures resume. The time to start worrying about dead grass would be when temperatures start to reach highs of over 85 degrees/29°C  for 3 consecutive weeks without any rain. At this point, drought damage can start to occur in these conditions. We would advise giving the lawn 60 minutes of water once every few weeks in conditions such as these (if Mother Nature doesn’t beat you to it!).

If your lawn is turning brown in patches and you know this not to have been caused by drought, it could be anyone of the following causes:

  1. Buried builders waste/soil compacted by machinery. Solution - See our advice on re-seeding a lawn.
  2. Female dog’s urine in-particular can damage grass. Solution - Water the affected areas immediately. Also, consult a vet to avoid the products that are claimed to prevent this sort of damage.
  3. ‘Scalped’ lawn from lawn mower. Solution – Raise the mowing height on your mower. See our advice on lawn repair.
  4. Chafer grubs / leatherjackets feeding on the roots. Solution - See our advice on dealing with chafer grubs and leather jackets.
  5. Lawn disease. Solution - See our advice on dealing with lawn/turf diseases including red thread, fairy rings etc.
  6. Overdose of lawn herbicides/moss controls. Solution  - Be sure to calibrate the equipment before use. Be careful when applying in order to use the correct dose of chemical product. Avoid walking over the grass immediately after spraying (use shoe covers).
  7. Overdoses of fertiliser (‘Scorching’).  Solution – Be sure to calibrate the equipment before use. Take care to deliver the correct dose of fertiliser evenly. Ideally, you should apply the fertiliser before rain, or else water the lawn just after you have fed it. Controlled release fertilisers are known to be less likely to cause scorching.

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