Reviving Dead Grass: Fact vs. Fiction

By TruGreen December 20, 2023
Friends enjoying a nice lawn

Reviving Dead Grass: Fact vs. Fiction

As the winter draws to a close and warmer weather approaches, many homeowners look to revive their lawns for the season ahead. For some, this is pretty straightforward and involves little more than waiting for higher temperatures and applying fertilizer. For others, though, spring prep means reviving brown grass. While that may seem daunting, discoloration doesn’t necessarily mean that your grass is dead: it may just be dormant. And though reviving it is possible (we’ll get to the details momentarily), restoring an unhealthy lawn may take a bit of elbow grease. But don’t worry: The experts at TruGreen® can help. 

Here, we’ll get into the differences between dead grass and dormant grass and answer some common questions about what it takes to restore your lawn’s healthy-looking appearance. Find everything you need to know about reviving your lawn ahead.

Dormant Grass vs. Dead Grass

First things first: Brown grass doesn’t necessarily mean dead grass. In fact, in many cases, a brown lawn simply means your grass is dormant. This is especially true with southern turfgrasses such as bermudagrass and zoysiagrass. These species naturally enter a dormant period in the fall and winter, which protects them from some kinds of winter damage. They often green-up and resume growing in the spring, when the temperatures warm up. So how do you know if grass is completely dead or still dormant? While the top of the grass may be dry and brittle, if you can see any green at the base of the plants, then it is likely still dormant rather than dead. That being said, these signs can be tricky for homeowners to spot and interpret accurately. If your grass is brown in patches and doesn’t green up after a few weeks of warm weather, contact your local TruGreen expert. Our specialists have the knowledge and experience to accurately diagnose your lawn — and, more importantly, determine the correct course of treatment.

How To Revive Dead Grass: Your Questions Answered

If your grass is looking a little worse for wear after harsh weather conditions, there’s a good chance you have a few questions. Like: Can brown grass turn green again? Or, how long can grass stay brown before it dies? Here, we’ll answer some common queries and teach you what TruGreen can do to bring your lackluster lawn back to life.

Will Watering Dead Grass Bring It Back To Life?

No amount of water will revive dead grass. So long as it’s still healthy, a dormant lawn can typically survive for several weeks without rainfall or irrigation. If your lawn is dormant rather than dead, it should start to green up again once it receives the water it needs. How much water your lawn needs depends on a multitude of factors, including what type of grass it is, your location, and the area’s weather conditions. For help determining how best to care for your lawn, consult your local TruGreen expert.

Can Dead or Brown Grass Turn Green Again?

If your grass is actually dead, there’s nothing you can do to bring it back other than plant new grass. Brown grass, however, can green up following proper care. Oftentimes, that just means water, nutrients, and cooler temperatures for northern lawns and warmer temperatures for southern lawns. If your grass is brown from lawn disease or lawn-damaging insects, targeted treatment may be required. Your local TruGreen expert can help determine whether your grass is brown due to dormancy or damage, and select the appropriate course of treatment to restore its healthy appearance. 

Can You Reseed Over Dead Grass?

Reseeding is probably the first thing that comes to mind if you’re dealing with dead grass. And while reseeding can help restore your lawn, it has to be done properly for it to be effective. Tossing seeds on top of dead, thatched grass may result in poor or patchy growth. Instead, opt for a TruGreen aeration and overseeding service. First, we’ll break up compact soil and thatch, then overseed your lawn. Aeration allows for better air, water and nutrient penetration into the soil, and also improves the new seed’s contact with the soil to foster germination and establishment of new seedlings. For cool season grasses, this service is typically performed in the late summer and fall, as the soil is still warm, but the daytime temperatures are cool — the optimal conditions for grass seed to establish in time for the following spring.

Will Raking Dead Grass Help It Grow?

No, raking dead grass will not help it grow. However, raking can help remove thatch — which, as we explained above, may enable grass that is living to grow stronger and healthier. Raking is actually a good practice for lawn areas that aren't emerging from dormancy and is one piece to the puzzle to repairing injured areas.

Does Fertilizer Revive Dead Grass?

Fertilizer can be incredibly beneficial for thickening up a living lawn — but it won’t bring a dead lawn back to life. To get the best results, you should apply fertilizer when your grass is actively growing. When this is depends on a few factors, including the type of grass you have and the weather in your region. In general, fertilization is a great practice and part of the broader lawn care program your local TruGreen expert uses when creating a tailored plan for your lawn.

Should You Mow Dead Grass?

If your grass has stopped growing entirely, it’s either dead or dormant and will not grow. In either case, avoid mowing for the time being. Mowing dead grass is pointless (dead is dead) while mowing a dormant lawn can weaken your grass, leaving it susceptible to more serious damage.

When to Call TruGreen for Help Understanding Your Lawn’s Condition and Care Plan

When it comes to your lawn, remember that it’s easier to prevent a problem than to fix it once it’s taken hold. And that sentiment absolutely holds true where your lawn is concerned. Giving your lawn proper care year-round can help keep it healthy throughout the seasons, and forestall any potential issues (like browning or brittleness) before they develop. That being said, what your lawn needs may vary depending on the season and local conditions — and it may not be the same year after year. Don’t rely on guesswork to keep your lawn in shape. Let TruGreen help. Our experts are trained to give your lawn exactly what it needs, when it needs it — which means less work for you, and more time to enjoy a healthy, happy lawn. 

Contact TruGreen today and discover what we can do for you.


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