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Advanced Lawn Care

How to revive dead grass

4 min read

how to make dead yellow grass green again

It’s never enjoyable to see your lawn turn brown and dry. Many factors play into the situation when grass starts to die off. These reasons include incorrect feeding and watering, disease, the wrong type of grass for the area, poor preparation methods, and pests.

You’ll need to uncover why your grass died and take steps to bring it back to a healthy state. We’ve provided you everything you need to know so you understand how to revive dead grass.

Take stock of the situation

Make sure your grass isn’t simply dormant. Some grass types will go dormant and turn brown. Take a look at the crowns. You’ll locate the crowns at the plant’s base. Grass blades grow from this whitish area.

Are the crowns healthy? If so, your grass is most likely dormant. On the other hand, discolored or dried out crowns mean your grass isn’t going to turn green again.

It’s time to put your DIY hat on after you’ve determined that you’re dealing with dead grass.

Prepare your site

Site preparation is your first step when you want to know how to revive dead grass. You need to create a healthy environment for the new grass sod or seed to take root in. Begin by eliminating any weeds or old grass.

Buy a nonselective herbicide and spray it over the affected areas of your yard. Keep pets and kids away from the area for at least two hours.

Most herbicides need about two hours to dry and become rainproof. We recommend performing this task on a warm, sunny day when rain and wind aren’t expected. Wait one week so the herbicide has the opportunity to remove all unwanted vegetation.

watering yard to make dead grass green

Eliminate excess thatch

Some decomposing plant materials will create a layer of build up across your soil’s surface. This is called thatch. You don’t want thatch thicker than a half inch. Otherwise, it negatively affects the movement of:

  • Nutrients
  • Water
  • Air

Too much thatch also allows for disease and insect issues because it prevents roots from developing properly. Use a power rake or vertical mower to eliminate any excess thatch.

Aerate by tilling the soil

Your next step is tilling the soil to about five to six inches in depth. This process makes good use of all existing vegetation. If you’re dealing with sandy or clay soil, then consider adding a four to six inch layer of compost as you till the vegetation. Organic matter will help sandy soil hold water more effectively. It also makes clay soil less bulky.

Fertilize the soul after testing

It’s a good idea to test the soil for phosphorus. Phosphorus helps develop healthy roots. If your test shows that phosphorus is needed, then you will evenly spread it across the lawn. You might not feel the need to perform a soil test. Purchase a grass-starter fertilizer at your local garden or hardware store in this case. This type of fertilizer is formulated to help aid the development of your new grass.

Plant new sod or seed

Planting sod: Large areas of brown lawn can be filled in with full sod pieces. Use plugs or sprigs when filling in smaller sections. The key to laying down sod is to make sure each piece is fitted firmly up against its neighbor. Their root sections need to connect firmly to the soil underneath.

Planting seed: If you’re going to plant from grass seed instead of sod, then evenly spread the seed across the affected area. Pay attention to getting proper contact between the seed and soil. Cover the seed with a thin layer of soil.

how to repair a patch of dead grass

Roll the sod

Use a lawn roller to roll the entire area after your planting is completed. You’ll find a roller at most home equipment rental outlets. The rolling process helps ensure the proper seed-to-soil contact.

After-care process

You need to water the area sufficiently after planting and rolling is completed. Don’t allow your lawn to become soggy, however. Simply keep it moist to encourage new growth.

You might need to water the area a few times each day for the first couple weeks. Lessen how much water you apply to the lawn over time. Again, the idea is to keep the layer of soil moist without getting it too wet. Grass roots will grow deeper with a deep watering technique. The roots will grow closer to the surface if you apply too many light applications.

One way to tell if grass sod roots are taking hold is to tug gently. You’ll know the roots are growing deeply into the soil when you can’t pull the sod up.

Make sure you don’t damage your new grass by running a lawn mower or other heavy equipment across the lawn too soon. Don’t walk across the area until roots have taken hold. A good rule of thumb is to wait to mow your new grass until after it’s grown out to one or two times the desired height.

You've learned how to revive dead grass. It's not a difficult goal to accomplish. It takes a little care and patience. Keep your new lawn irrigated, don't cut it too low when mowing and fertilize it in the spring and fall. Do that and we're certain that you'll enjoy it for years to come.

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