Answer: I can't tell without looking so start by digging up an edge of the affected lawn so you can seed the roots of both the healthy and the browning lawn. Look for differences in the roots and blades of the grass. Look for insect pests and insect eggs in the thatch and roots and also look for webbing or fungal growth at the base of the blades. If you still can't determine which it might be, take a sample to your local cooperative extension office for professional diagnosis. Helpful folks there can positively identify the problem and suggest controls. Best wishes with your lawn!
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