During summer months, a lush, green lawn can transform into a brown one within weeks. Heat while oftentimes a catalyst, is not always the culprit. As a homeowner, you can take precautions to minimize the likelihood of a brown lawn.
First, let’s look at the reasons why a lawn may go brown, starting with drought stress. Drought stress is a condition caused by excessive heat and/or lack of water. Drought stress can lead to dormancy, a normal condition for grasses of all types. A good test for drought stress is to step on one of the grass’ brown patches. If your footstep remains as an imprint in the grass, it’s likely that your lawn is water-deprived. Brown spots from drought stress appear randomly and without pattern. This is different from brown spots that may occur because a sprinkler system is miscalibrated, or because some lawn sections are shaded whereas others are exposed to direct sunlight. Lawns which have been dormant for long periods of time may need to be reseeded.
Drought stress also reduces your lawn’s natural defenses against pests and disease. This includes plant-based pests such as weeds which can starve your grass of much-needed food and water, as well as insects such as lawn grubs and chinch bugs. These two forces can lead to brownout.
Lastly, your grass may be dying. Either from a lack of aeration, cutting grass too short to provide “natural shade” or over-watering among other reasons. Your grass may not live forever and when it dies, it’s likely to thin and turn brown.
The good news is that each of these conditions is non-permanent. You may not have stopped your lawn from turning brown, but, generally, you can nurse it back to being green. To water a brown lawn back to health, start with a steady watering schedule — typically 2 hours every few days (approximately 1 inch of water) — and be careful not to over-water. Then, just wait. It may take a lawn 3-4 weeks to return to its natural green color.
Then, to manage weeds, use an over-the-counter herbicide. For larger weed problems, get treatment by a professional lawn care company. The same is true for pests. Tackle them yourself, but using a lawn care company can be more efficient and effective.