The Q&A Archives: Browning Lawn

Question: Planted sod last year and was beautiful, now large areas are going brown and dying. No bugs, not a watering issue. Can I save it?

Answer: There are many causes of brown areas in lawns but in order to fix the problem areas, you must determine the cause. Brown areas can be caused by drought, brown patch, take-all-patch, chinch bugs or grubs, dog urine, scalping with the mower, compacted soils and temperature extremes. Drought is addressed with watering. Brown patch is a fungus disease caused by excessive water and cured by reducing the watering and applying a fungicide. Take-all-patch is a fungus disease that is controlled by acidification with spagnum peat moss over a long treatment period. Both chinch bugs and grubs are killed by application of a soil insecticide. Dog spots are difficult because of concentrated salts in the urine. Flush the area with water as soon as possible after the occurrence. Work with your dog to use a less conspicuous areas.
Foot traffic - Aerate to relieve soil compaction and reseed. Redirect the traffic. If that proves impossible, install a walkway. Scalping (mowing too close): Raise the mower blade to the proper cutting height for your variety of turfgrass. Fix high spots in the lawn. Compacted soil - Aerate to relieve soil compaction. Add organic matter and reseed.

Extreme temperatures can dry turf out. Too much or too little water - Water only when needed. Do it as early in the day as possible to allow evaporation from grass blades. Too much or too little fertilizer- Too much causes excessive growth. Too little does not provide enough nutrition to promote the strong roots, crowns and leaves needed to withstand disease. Follow the proper feeding schedule for your turfgrass. Excessive pesticide use - Applying too much insecticide or herbicide can "burn" turfgrass. Follow the manufacturer's specifications on amount and frequency of application. Hot and cool temperature extremes Wait for a change in the weather.

I've covered all the possibilities so now you'll need to put on your detective cap to determine the cause - and the control measure.

Best wishes with your lawn.

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