Brown spots on your home's lawn are not only unsightly but when your grass isn't healthy, it may not be able to provide maximum environmental or enjoyment benefits. Fortunately, troubled lawns usually show symptoms as to what is ailing them, clues that can help diagnose the root of their problem so solutions toward good health can be developed. Let's explore what different brown spots on your lawn might be communicating. 

Dry Spots

Dry spots start as wilted bluish-gray grass on hot afternoons. They may first appear around trees and gradually turn yellow and then brown. If your lawn has been without water for a while, the soil is apt to be powder dry.

Inspection: Check the soil with a garden trowel or pocket knife. Compare the soil in the brown spot to soil where the grass is green and appears healthy. Check the depth of soil in the brown spot as sometimes a buried object right below the soil surface may be limiting moisture available to the lawn. Check your irrigation system. Turn the system on and stand on the brown spot. If you don’t get wet, an irrigation head may not be turning or a plant may be blocking the sprinklers or perhaps there isn’t enough overlap between sprinkler heads.

Possible Solution: Adjustments to your irrigation system or spot watering should solve this problem.

 Too Much Water

 Just as dryness can cause your lawn to be unhealthy, so can too much water, as overwatering can lead to root rot diseases. 

 Inspection: Healthy grass has very fibrous roots that are white. Rotting roots are brown and become mushy and soft. Often  these areas of saturated soil have a very strong musty odor like gym socks left in a bag too long.

Possible Solution: Usually allowing the soil to dry will solve the problem without the need for a disease control treatment.  If the  area is continually wet due to poor drainage, other corrective action such as drainage installation or landscape redesign, may be  the best solution.

 "Spot" May be Causing Spots

Dog urine contains salts that may cause brown, dead areas in grass.

Inspection: One indicator of lawn damage caused by dog urine is the presence of many brown spots in the area of the lawn that the dog normally uses. Since the urine also contains a slight amount of nitrogen nutrients, these brown spots may have dark green grass around the brown spot. The soil in these spots will have an ammonia smell.  

Possible Solution: Additional watering in the pet's waste areas of the lawn will help.

 Lawn Mower Tracks

 Lawn mowers that are essential in the health of your lawn can also be guilty culprits in creating brown streaks in  the grass.

 Inspection: Drought stressed turf in hot summer weather is subject to traffic damage. When turf is wilting on a  hot  afternoon, the lawn mower wheels can crush grass blades causing them to turn brown.

 Possible Solution: The wheel tracks will green up when good soil moisture returns. If possible, mow at cooler times of the day or after the lawn has been watered.

 Insect Damage

 Damage from insects is very seasonal as lawn pests are often specific feeders, choosing  to feed on one grass species while ignoring others.

Inspection: Proper problem solving requires that you find the offending insect. Starting with the symptoms of the damage will help you know where to look for the insect and what it will look like. For instance, brown turf areas with no roots means you may have white grubs. If you have a bluegrass or St. Augustine lawn. a brown spot in the summer may be a symptom of chinch bug feeding. Brown spots with missing grass blades may mean armyworms are feasting upon your lawn.

Possible Solution: Different insects warrant different control solutions. Generally, once the pest is eliminated the lawn will return to good health.

Brown spots in your lawn are generally fairly easy to eliminate once the cause is identified and solution strategies are enacted. A lawn care expert can take the guesswork out of lawn damage and help your yard return to good health to benefit your family, your community and the environment


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