Grass turning brown despite watering? Here’s what to do

There’s nothing worse than walking in your yard, taking in the beauty of nature only to look down and notice that your grass is turning brown despite how well you’ve been watering it. Don’t worry, I’ve been there many times throughout my time gardening. So what are you meant to do? Let’s find out below:

brown patches

Table of Contents

Grass turning brown despite watering

There are a number of reasons why your grass may be turning brown even when you have been watering religiously, however, the most common reason is that the grassroots are not absorbing the right amount of nutrients in order to allow the grass to thrive. With that being said, don’t jump to conclusions straight away. Grass goes through different cycles depending on the time of year. You may find that your grass is in its dormancy phase (a little like how animals hibernate through the winter).

summer lawn stress

Signs that your grass has died

Below are some simple tests that you can carry out which will indicate to you that your grass has died, have a look at them and then see if they match what you are currently experiencing in your yard:

The tug test

Take hold of a small section of grass and give it a sharp tug, if the grass easily comes out of the ground then this is a sign that your grass has died.

The water test

When grass is in its dormancy, it will regain its green color if you water it every other day. I usually just choose a patch of grass and then focus my attention on that when it comes to watering. You will know the grass is dead if you have carried this out for the best part of 10 days and there is no change.

Is the grass patchy?

If you find that the majority of your grass is a brownish color, it’s reasonable to think that it’s in dormancy (typically happens when temperatures start to drop). If there are just patches on your lawn that are brown or yellowish in color then these parts are most likely dead.

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How to Revive Dormant Grass

Below are some different methods you can use to try and revive your grass:

Mowing Height

A lot of people who take pride in the lawn tend to mow it quite regularly to ensure it maintains that neat and tidy appearance. Sometimes you have to do things that are a little counterproductive… There is a direct correlation between grass height and root depth.

The taller the grass, the deeper the roots. Deeper roots mean healthier grass which is better equipped to withstand periods of drought or when the temperatures start to get cooler. I’m not suggesting that you leave your lawn to grow wildly but try and mow your lawn a little less than usual – your lawn will thank you for this later!

The acidity of your lawn

The soil pH of your grass is probably too acidic, owing to a neighboring evergreen tree or fresh leaf mulch, which is causing it to grow slowly or, in this case, turn brown. Test the soil’s acidity with a pH meter or a soil-sampling test from your local nursery or garden center. The ideal pH for grass is between 6 and 7; if the number is lower, the soil is too acidic. You can raise it by adding garden lime, following package directions.


If your lawn is compacted, it may be due to a lack of aeration. Aeration is the process of making small holes in the soil to allow air, water and nutrients to reach the roots of the grass. A Lawn aerator can be hired from most garden centers.


Fertilizer is an important factor when it comes to keeping your grass healthy as it provides the essential nutrients required for growth. However, too much fertilizer can actually do more harm than good as this can lead to a condition known as ‘fertilizer burn‘. This is where the blades of grass become scorched or brown in color as a result of the high levels of nitrogen found in the fertilizer. It is always best to carry out a soil test before applying any fertilizer to your lawn to ensure.

green grass

Lawn disease

If you have carried out all of the above and your grass is still not looking any better, then it may be suffering from a lawn disease. The most common type of lawn disease is called ‘brown patch‘, which is caused by a fungus known as Rhizoctonia. Brown patch appears as large, circular patches on your lawn that are brown or yellow in color. If you think your grass may be suffering from lawn disease, the best course of action would be to contact a professional who will be able to diagnose the problem and offer you the best solution.

Lawn Pests

Lawn pests can be a major problem for homeowners, as they can cause significant damage to lawns and gardens. If you suspect that your lawn is being attacked by pests, it is important to take action quickly to prevent further damage. Contact a professional pest control company for advice and assistance.

Grubs (Beetle Larvae)

Grubs are the larvae of beetles and are a major problem for lawns, as they feed on the roots of grass, causing the grass to die. If you have grubs in your lawn, you will notice that the grass turns brown and dies in patches. To get rid of grubs, you need to treat your lawn with an insecticide.

Chinch Bugs

Chinch bugs are small, black insects that feed on the grass blades, causing the grass to turn yellow and eventually die. If you have chinch bugs in your lawn, you will need to treat it with an insecticide.

Sod Webworms

Sod webworms are small, brownish-black caterpillars that feed on the blades of grass, causing the grass to turn brown and die. If you have sod webworms in your lawn, you will need to treat it with an insecticide.


Armyworms are small, green caterpillars that feast on blades of grass to the nub, turning the lawn brown and killing the grass. If you have armyworms in your yard, you’ll need to contact a pest control company or treat it with an insecticide.


Cutworms can be a real annoyance to anyone’s lawn, they are small brown or black caterpillars that cut the grass blades off at the base, causing the grass to turn brown and die.

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Pet waste

Another common problem that can cause the grass to turn brown is pet waste. The urine and feces from dogs and cats contain high levels of nitrogen, which can burn the blades of grass, causing them to turn brown. To prevent this from happening, make sure you clean up after your pets immediately. To train your pets to urinate in a single spot, consistency is key for two to three weeks while they establish the routine. You may want to include a marking post like near a specific tree or behind your garden shed.


In this article, I have discussed some of the most common problems that can cause the grass in your lawn to turn brown. I have also provided advice on how to solve these problems. Let’s summarise what we’ve learnt:

  • Your grass roots are not absorbing the right amount of nutrients
  • Your grass may be dormant due to seasonal changes
  • There are three tests that you can carry out to check whether your grass is dead which is the tug test, water test and seeing if your lawn is just patchy in certain areas
  • You can revive dormant grass by increasing the height of the lawn mower when cutting, adjusting the acidity of the soil, aerating the soil and checking to see if you need to add fertilizer
  • Removing pet waste can prevent grass damage
green lawn cured

People also ask

Is it OK to mow brown grass?

No, it is not recommended to mow brown grass, as this can damage the blades of grass and make the problem worse. If your grass is brown, it is best to leave it alone and wait for it to green up again.

Why should you not cut grass when it's wet?

Wet grass clippings can block your mower’s intake, causing it to choke and spout out clusters of wet grass that may suffocate and kill your lawn if left unraked. It’s best to wait for the damp grass to dry before mowing.

Does mowing weeds spread them?

Mowing can actually help to spread weeds, as the blades of the mower can disperse the weed seeds into the lawn. If you have a problem with weeds in your lawn, it is best to contact a professional for advice on how to deal with them.

Should dead grass be mowed?

Dead grass may benefit from a fresh cut in some situations; you might try mowing the entire lawn with a small layer of dead grass clippings left behind. Because the blades contain all of the nitrogen needed by the roots, grass can act as its own fertilizer.

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Oliver Wright
Oliver Wright

I hope you enjoy reading some of the content and ideas from this site, I tend to share articles and product reviews on a daily basis, so be rest assured… you won’t run out of things to read!

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