Brown Spots in Your Lawn: Causes and Cures

Few things are more maddening for a homeowner who has spent much time and money making their lawn beautiful and healthy than to wake up one morning and find a brown spot, or two or three brown spots, in the grass. They are not only unsightly, but can make you feel like you did something wrong. The good news about brown patches is that they are not necessarily your fault, and they can be remedied.

What Causes Brown Spots?

Many factors affect your lawn – temperature, precipitation, insects, mowing practices, foot traffic, fertilizer, pets and so much more. Which of these factors are most likely responsible for your lawn’s demise? Lawn care experts have identified at least five causes for brown patches in the lawn. Check to see if any of these conditions match your lawn’s recent history.

CAUSE: Overfertilizing

It is possible to put too much fertilizer on a lawn. Fertilizers are largely made of salts, and too much burns the grass and causes it to turn brown. If you’ve fertilized your lawn lately, this could be the cause of the trouble.

CURE: If the fertilizer was spilled in a small area, clean up as much as possible. If the entire lawn was over fertilized, apply water as soon as possible. Water helps to dilute and flush the mineral salts away from the roots. On the first day, water until the ground can’t soak in any more. Then water every day for about a week. Then all you can do is wait and see how bad the damage is and if your lawn will recover. TIP: Water in the morning to reduce the risk of fungal diseases.


CAUSE: Poor Drainage

Patches of standing water on the grass or soil that don’t drain well can also kill the grass and cause the area to turn brown. Have you noticed any pooling in the areas where the grass is browning?

CURE: Look into better drainage solutions or raising the area if it is too low compared with the rest of your lawn.


CAUSE: Dog Urine

Dog urine contains large amounts of nitrogen and can burn your lawn much like too much fertilizer will do. These brown spots will be smaller. Pay attention to where your dog goes when he goes and see if the places coincide.

CURE: There are several ways to combat urine spots. You can saturate the area where the dog urinates with water (a watering can is handy). You can feed your pet a high quality dog food that has more digestible protein sources so not so much will be excreted in the urine. You can train your dog to urinate in a less visible area of the lawn, or you can feed your dog a supplement specially formulated to neutralize the protein in the urine.


CAUSE: Improper Mowing

Mowing the lawn with a dull blade doesn’t cut the grass cleanly, but crushes it. This allows pathogens to get into the grass, sicken and then kill it. Also, cutting the grass too low (cutting more than one third of the blade’s length at at time) can weaken the grass and cause it to turn brown. Generally, the damage doesn’t leave a circular pattern of spots, though. The damage is likely to be equal across your lawn.

CURE: Sharpen your mower blades and cut the grass at the proper length.


Related Read: Six Tips You Need to Know When You Mow

CAUSE: Pathogens

Disease and fungi are also culprits when it comes to brown spots on the lawn. Hot, humid weather provides the ideal conditions needed for lawn fungi to grow (though some fungal diseases attack lawns even in cold weather). These fungi create round patches of brown grass up to several feet in diameter.

CURE: Give lawns a dose of fungicide and water sparingly during treatment, as fungus requires ample moisture to survive. Special fungicide is usually needed to rid your lawn of this problem.


Any homeowner in the Lubbock area who is plagued with brown patches on the lawn should get in touch with us at Ashton Walden Turf Services. Give us a call at (806) 632-3571.


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