Dead Grass vs Dormant Grass
How to Tell If Your Grass Is Dead
You’ve taken all the steps you can to help your grass grow thick and healthy. You reseed patchy spots, water regularly, and watch for disease and pests, so why isn’t it thriving? Your grass might be dormant, or it may be dead. Learn how you can tell the difference between dead grass and dormant grass to help you determine the next steps to take.
Dormant Grass versus Dead Grass
What it is: Dormant grass is a survival mechanism grasses use to survive conditions when adequate moisture is unavailable. Many cool grasses go dormant in the summer, while warm-season grasses go dormant in the winter. During this period of time, your grass might look dead, but it is still alive and will bounce back when the conditions are favorable for growth.
Signs of dormancy: You can tell your brown grass is dormant and not dead by tugging on the blades. Dead grass will pull up from the ground, while dormant grass holds fast by the roots.
What you can do: While temperature plays a big role in dormant grass, you can support new growth by continuing to water your lawn. You should pause your mowing efforts until your lawn has regular growth.
What it is: Dead grass has root systems that can no longer support life. Tug at the blades of your browning grass, and if the roots easily come out of the ground, your grass is dead.
What you can do: Dead grass cannot be revived, so you need to figure out what caused your grass to die before planting new seed.
What causes grass to die: There are many reasons your grass might die, including:
- Grubs: This pest is the larvae form of Japanese beetles. Grubs feed on grass roots, causing grass to die. You can tell if you have grubs by digging up a small patch of your browning lawn. If you find multiple white, c-shaped bugs, you probably have a grub infestation.
- Unfavorable weather conditions: During a drought or heat wave, your grass may die if you are unable to provide water. Sometimes you can revive your drought-impacted lawn with a few good soakings of water—as long as the grass has not already died—so don’t give up hope as soon as you see brown.
- Disease: Unfortunately, some diseases can quickly kill off your entire lawn. It’s important to keep an eye out for signs of illness or fungi so you can take steps to treat any issues immediately.
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