The Q&A Archives: help with yellow spots in grass

Question: Why do I have yellow spots on my lawn?

Answer: Yellow areas in your lawn can have many causes. Whatever the reason, they're unsightly at best and could be signs of bigger problems. The good news is that in most cases these ugly spots can be easily remedied or repaired.

Before proceeding with any type of action, make sure the grass is not turning yellow/brown because it's going dormant. Dormancy is a natural reaction in turfgrasses, prompted by seasonal temperature changes. Cool-season grasses go dormant in the heat of summer, warm-season grasses in winter. Dormancy is a resting period, do not fertilize during dormancy.

It's also a good idea to do a soil test to determine what, if any, soil amendments are necessary to improve the soil. Maintaining the proper pH for your specific turfgrass keeps it green and growing.

To look and feel their best, all types of turfgrass need to be fertilized. Lawns that are not getting enough nitrogen (the key component of lawn fertilizer) will begin to change to light green and then yellow. The color change usually begins to show first in the lower leaves. Reduced growth is also a sign of nitrogen deficiency. Normally the entire lawn is affected. Adding nitrogen will help restore the green color if the fertilization is done properly. Applying too much at the wrong time can do more harm than good. Grass cycling adds nitrogen naturally to the lawn.

Yellow or brown spots may be the result of a simpler problem. Gasoline spills, over-application of pesticides, foot traffic, scalping the lawn when cutting or mowing with a dull blade can all cause discoloration. Affected areas need to be repaired and reseeded.

The high nitrogen content of dog urine can be especially detrimental to lawn grasses. For yellowing turfgrass due to pet urine, the best treatment is to flush the area with water (as soon as possible - within the hour is best). If you think you can train your pet to "go" elsewhere in the lawn, it's worth a try. You may also want to check with your veterinarian about dietary supplements made to reduce the pH and extra nitrogen in dog urine.

Hope this information helps you determine the cause of yellow spots in your lawn.

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