Is My Lawn Dead, or Just Dormant?

61 Responses

  1. Pam Thomson says:

    My dad put weed killer all over his lawn. It’s is now dead!! Or at least I think it is. It’s white with no sign of green grass.
    What should I do. Will a slow release lawn builder work?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Pam,

      I’m terribly sorry but your comment got lost in a bunch of spam messages! If your lawn is totally dead, you should remove all of the dead grass, and even some of the topsoil if you think it could still be contaminated with weed killer. Put down a healthy layer of new topsoil and lay sod! We have detailed instructions on sod installation here: https://ordersodnow.com/blog/2017/05/04/fresh-sod-7steps/

      All the best and happy sodding,

      OrderSodNow

  2. Tom caira says:

    I just had new sod put down. Should I water with day temps 40-60 degrees and night temps 20-30 degrees?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Tom!

      Thank you so much for your inquiry. It is certainly starting to get chilly. I would water your new sod for as long as you can without the water totally freezing. Water during late morning – mid-day when it will be the warmest. Your grass will go dormant eventually and then you can wait until spring to resume your sod care!

      I hope this helps Tom,

      Cameron
      -OrderSodNow

    • Zack says:

      When I try to rake the turf comes up like a carpet I don’t see any grabs

      • Cameron Shimoda says:

        Hey Zack,

        I would recommend reaching out to your local sod farm with an email including pictures of your lawn issues and a description. Something is clearly not right, but I would have to see it to make a better diagnosis. Let me know how things go and if you have any further concerns!

        All the best and talk soon,

        Cam
        -LearnSodNow

  3. AJ says:

    My sod was laid 2 1/2 weeks ago. There are now hay like patches through it. What is this from? It has been very dry with no rain but we water every morning.

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey AJ!

      When did the “hay like patches” show up? Have they been there since you installed it?

      It sounds like your sod overheated to me. When the sod is harvested and placed on a skid, time is of the essence! You have to return the sod to soil as soon as possible (within 12 hours in the spring and fall, 6 hours in summer heat) and if you don’t, there is a risk of your sod overheating.

      It can take a lot of work and a lot of time to revivify overheated sod. I would recommend reaching out to the sod supplier you used and seeing if something went wrong with your delivery!

      All the best,

      Cameron
      -OrderSodNow

      • AJ says:

        It was nice and green when it was installed. We got it from a sod farm literally 5 miles down the road. It started to brown about 2 and 1/2 weeks after install.

        • Cameron Shimoda says:

          Hey AJ! Perhaps there could be something wrong with the underlying soil. Usually if the sod had overheated on the skid, you would notice it almost immediately following installation. This sounds like you might have patches of contaminated soil that are damaging the turf, but I would still recommend asking your sod supplier to take a look! Without being there, it is very difficult to diagnose turf issues!

  4. Very well written information. It will be valuable to anyone who utilizes it, as well as yours truly :). Keep doing what you are doing – for sure i will check out more posts.

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Thanks so much for your comment! Have a fantastic day, and good luck with whatever sod project you have on the go 🙂

  5. Rachel James says:

    Hi we’ve just had sod put down by a gardening company. It was mostly brown when rolled out, with green edges. We thought this was just because it was rolled/dusty, but we’ve watered it all day and it’s mostly brown! It’s really warm here 30C today.
    Will this get better or is it dead before it started!!
    Thanks
    Rachel

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Rachel,

      It sounds to me like your sod overheated before they even installed it… This weather wreaks havoc on sod installations and it is very common for staging sod to overheat in just a matter of hours. Overheated sod can come back in some mild cases, however it sounds like your lawn is pretty well TOAST. I would suggest contacting your gardening company, and having them reach out their sod supplier. Clearly something went wrong between harvest and install. 🙂

      Let me know if I can help in any other way Rachel,

      Cameron
      -OrderSodNow

  6. Paul says:

    Hi we had sod installed 2-3 months ago. Is was doing well till the very hot weather arrived. Now it has turned brown. Could it be dormant?
    Thanks
    Paul

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Paul,

      This very hot weather can wreak havoc on freshly laid sod! As long as your sod’s root system established well, your lawn could be dormant. Did you keep up with regular watering for about a month after installation? You can check for sod establishment by trying to lift up a corner of your lawn and looking for roots. Let me know how things are looking Paul and hopefully your lawn will green up once we’re out of this drought!

      Best,

      Cameron
      -OrderSodNow

  7. Charlotte Toth says:

    I was away fo.r 2.5 weeks. My lawn looked like a brown paper bag when I got home. I’ve been watering night and day since. I added a bit of fertilizer and good quality grass seed. It’s all come back after 2 weeks except two patches at the front that get no shade and are on the top of a small rise. They are really brown and look dead. Should I cut them out and resod or will they dome back?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Charlotte! Thank you for your comment. How big are the dead looking areas? There’s a chance that they will still come back once conditions improve. Being on the top of a hill makes it hard for your grass to stay hydrated since the water is draining away. It might be worth leaving your sprinkler on this area for a little longer than the rest to ensure that it is getting the proper amount of water. Watch these areas closely over the next couple weeks, and if things still don’t improve, then I would suggest cutting out and re-sodding. Feel free to give us a call if you have any more questions, our contact info is at this link.

  8. Craig Hall says:

    I have no idea why my lawn died. It was fresh sod 6 years ago and very healthy but weeds were coming in the last couple of years. It was very hot in the spring and early summer and it went very brown. I watered the heck out of it for 3 weeks or two but it never came back – just a few green wisps here and there. The weeds are doing fine, taking over. I believe I have to start over again.
    To start again, should I till over the whole thing and then re-sod? Should I use killex or roundup to kill all the weeds first? How important is the layer of top soil?

    Thanks very much.

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Craig,

      That sounds like a strange situation to me too… It is essential for the layer of topsoil to have plenty of nutrients, and have good drainage. We recommend spreading a couple inches of high quality topsoil before laying sod to ensure that your new lawn will have the required nutrients available.

      As for starting again, I would recommend renting a sod cutter and removing all of the old turf and weeds. The weeds will be hard to keep away totally, however cutting out your old lawn will help tremendously. Once the old turf is removed, rototilling the soil can improve the soil profile, but this isn’t necessary if you are spreading new topsoil anyways. A Killex or Round Up application isn’t necessary either, but it would ensure that all the previously established weeds die off. (Be careful using chemical treatments, and always make sure that the compounds you use are approved by your local government)

      I hope your second time around goes much smoother Craig!

      Happy Sodding and Don’t forget, green side up 😉

      Cameron

  9. John F says:

    My lawn has a variety of different grasses due to reseeding areas over time. So, the lawn does not look uniform. It also has some patches of tall fescue mixed in, which is hard to eliminate. I would consider just starting over and have new sod installed. However, I already have an underground sprinkler system in my lawn. Seems like it would be very tricky to remove the old lawn and prepare it for new sod without potentially damaging the sprinkler lines which are buried only a few inches deep (about 3″). Can a lawn with an existing sprinkler system be resodded?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey John!

      Thanks for much for your comment. If it’s uniformity that you’re aiming for, resodding is definitely a good option. You are right that shallowly installed sprinkler systems can create complications when resodding. However, as long as the proper precautions are taken when removing sod around sprinkler heads and lines, you should be fine. Be sure to set the sod cutter you use for sod removal to a higher setting so that you don’t take away quite as much soil. Leave the delicate areas around sprinkler heads and lines to be removed by hand so that you don’t cause any damages! If you are really worried, consider hiring professionals to re-sod your lawn and they should have plenty of experience working around sprinkler systems 🙂

  10. Tucker Robertson says:

    Morning. Just laid 1500 sq ft icon zoysia 45-65 degrees) and am putting down sufficient water….its only been 4 days since install but grass has lots of brown spots….is it dead or dormant? Thanks!

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Tucker,

      Thanks so much for your comment. It sounds like something is wrong with the sod to me. When dormancy sets in, it typically effects the entire lawn more uniformly. I would contact your sod supplier and see if they can better diagnose the issue!

      Sorry I can’t be of more assistance Tucker and I wish you the best of luck with with your new lawn.

      All the best,

      Cameron
      -OrderSodNow

  11. Kim says:

    Hi There!

    We laid new sod down late last winter. Everything was fine until about a couple weeks ago. I have some patches of light green and the rest are now brown. How can I revive the grass in time for season the beginning of feb? should I water more? add fertilizer? please help!

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Kim!

      I’m distraught to hear that you’re having lawn issues! It is very difficult to diagnose your issue without seeing pictures, or even being at the site for a full assessment. That is quite strange that your lawn was looking good all year, only to have it turn bad in the last couple weeks… I would reach out to your local sod supplier directly and see if they can help identify the issue! Sometimes we can diagnose lawn issues over the phone, but like I said, for the most accurate assessment, a visit would be necessary.

      All the best,

      Cameron
      -OrderSodNow

  12. Nate Leary says:

    Thanks for the lawn care tips. I want to make my landscaping more beautiful, so I have been looking for ways to work on it. I like that you mentioned making sure you aerate your lawn so it can help the roots get air and water. I will make sure to start doing this regularly!

    • Julia VanDyk says:

      Hi Nate!
      Thanks so much for your comment! Lawn aeration is one of the best tips to get beautiful green grass. However, it is really only required one to two times per year. Continue to check in with your soil to see how compacted it is to determine how often aeration is needed. Keep an eye out on our blog for more new posts about tips to keep your lawn healthy.
      Best of luck,
      Julia
      -OrderSodNow

  13. I wanted to thank you for helping me learn more about lawns. I didn’t know that watering a lawn regularly can help revive it. I’m interested to learn if there’s a way to calculate how much you should water a lawn based on how dormant the lawn looks.

  14. Paul says:

    i had perennial ryegrass sod installed beggining of September 2018 and all was great until winter came. Now as of April 8th the whole grass is brown and straw like at the top but I can see green closer to the roots. Should I water every day? Long Island ny

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Paul,

      I would recommend taking some pictures and sending them in to your local sod farm. Any number of things could be going wrong with your lawn and I wouldn’t want to mis-diagnose it. At the moment, I would hold off on watering until you can confirm the issue. Hopefully after some good hearty rains, things will start to turn around as well. Let us know how things go Paul!

      All the best,

      The OrderSodNow Team

  15. Tracey says:

    Hi my neighbors had the turf laid in October and it’s gone completely badly and started to spread to mine 😮can you help please to stop thank you

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Tracy,

      Thanks so much for your comment! I’m sorry but I’m not quite sure what’s going on. Your neighbours laid sod, it died, and now your lawn is starting to die? It’s very difficult to diagnose without looking at it. Could it perhaps be snow mould that is spreading from your neighbour’s lawn to yours? Let me know more about what your lawn looks like and hopefully we can get things sorted out!

      All the best and talk soon,

      The OrderSodNow Team

  16. Alex says:

    We had sod laid last August when we moved into our new house and watered and mowed till 1/2 way through November. Now after a very cold and snowy winter our sod is very slow to come back and is still brown in places. How long should I be watering our sod each day to bring it back to full health?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Alex!

      Thanks a lot for your comment. Sorry to hear your spring green-up isn’t quite what you expected. Watering is a bit more of an art than a science, and you should monitor your lawn closely to know when to water. A good rule of thumb is to water deeply, and not as frequent as during establishment. You want the grass’s roots to start reaching for the water, so you don’t want to keep it constantly moist. Give your whole lawn a good half inch of water, or set out a gauge the next time we get a rain and hopefully we get close to half an inch. Watch your lawn closely and expect to water again after a few days when things start to dry up. Fertilizer is also an excellent way to get your lawn nice and green again! Look for a balanced fertilizer like a 16-16-16 and apply that according to the provided instructions for some better spring green-up results!

      Hope this helps and reach out with any further concerns!

      All the best,

      Cameron
      -OrderSodNow

  17. Reagan Jones says:

    Hello, my sod was very green in the fall before winter. It is in its first year of spring and the front lawn has come in nice and green but the back is coming back in patches. We have had a lot of cold weather and rain this spring. Wondering if it will come back fully or if I will need to re seed and use soil. When I walk on it, it is very squishy.

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Reagan,

      Thanks so much for your comment. I’m terribly sorry to hear your backyard lawn is not doing so great. Backyards can be tough because there’s often a lot of shaded area, and your sod needs at least 4 hours of sunlight everyday for maximal performance. With all this cold, rainy weather, there’s a chance your lawn is oversaturated. I would have to see pictures, or see your lawn in person in order identify ALL the possible problems. A good start would be to try and ensure your backyard is exposed to the sun as much as possible by trimming trees and bushes. Hopefully with the added sunlight your backyard will dry up and your lawn will start to come back. Feel free to send some pictures and reach out for a more accurate diagnosis and suggestions at cameron@ordersodnow.me

      All the best and talk soon,

      Cam
      -OrderSodNow

  18. Nici says:

    We had fescue sod installed about 6 weeks ago…it was beautiful for the first 4 weeks…now it looks terrible. Brown spots all over…we have watered it everyday. We live in Georgia so it’s been 90+ degrees recently. Any words of wisdom?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Nici,

      A number of things could be going wrong with your lawn! 90+ degrees makes sod instalment rather difficult even in the best of circumstances. Watering, as you clearly know, is crucial to sod establishment. However the amount of water varies as you get further from the date of install. You want to gradually decrease the amount of water you provide, so that your lawn naturally starts to look for water and reach its roots deeper into the ground. If you constantly provide water, your lawn won’t need to look for water and the sod’s roots won’t reach down. Like I said though, you could be experiencing any number of issues and it’s difficult to diagnose without seeing the lawn. We have a relationship with the Georgia sod supplier, SuperSod and I would recommend reaching out to them for a better diagnosis of your issues. They have a wealth of knowledge to help you and your new lawn. Reach out to your local store at https://www.supersod.com/storelocator

      All the best to you and your new lawn,

      Cam
      -OrderSodNow

  19. Kaci says:

    Hi, In need of help!! My garden was turfed 5 days ago.. the company told us they would put membrane over the existing grass,lay top soil then put the turf on. They didn’t do that.. they put just put top soil over the grass put fertilizer over it then laid the turf… which way is correct? They never watered the grass after they laid it.. we didn’t water it until 3 days later.. it has shrunk and gone dry, brown/yellow/green. What can we do?

  20. Anthony says:

    Hello i just lay new sod in july which is very hot day . we lay the sod in about 3-4 hours after sod was cut out in sod farm .Also did water it right after installed and set up sprinkler system to water it 3 times a day 6am 2pm and 8 pm to make sure is moist under sod .we also put starter filteraizer on top soil but sod turn in to brown but still some green
    just wonder if the sod gonna survive ?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Anthony,

      Laying sod on hot days is always a challenge. Sod can overheat very quickly in extreme temperatures, despite your best efforts to lay it quickly. There is a chance your lawn will come back, but without seeing pictures it’s tough to give a proper diagnosis. I would suggest reaching out to the sod farm that you purchased from and seeing if they can get someone to have a look and make some recommendations!

      All the best,

      Cam
      -OrderSodNow

  21. Holly says:

    We had a neighbor boy mow our lush green lawn about 3 days ago and when we got back that day it was mowed way too short and completely brown and crunchy. We’ve started watering it daily. Is there anything else we should do? Have you seen grass get mowed too short and turn brown but then return to a healthy state again? If so how long does it usually take to begin to see green regrowth? Thanks.

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Holly,

      I’m terribly sorry to hear about your damaged lawn. Watering is a great way to try and get your lawn to recover, and overseeding might be necessary if at least some of your grass is still alive. If you think that it is all dead beyond repair, a full re-sod might be necessary. If your lawn is going to recover, you should start to see it’s condition improve after about 3-4 days of intensive watering.

      I hope you’re able to get things to green up again! It would be terrible to have to fully re-sod your lawn.

      All the best and good luck with recovery,

      Cam
      -OrderSodNow

  22. Mike says:

    I have a heavy shaded back yard. Between that, soil issues, and heavy rain/lack of rain it is tough to get grass to stay back there. I aerate and seed every fall (Sept/Oct) and grass comes up nicely, it then grows thick and green in the spring. By about mid July Aug parts will turn brown and disappear. This year it looks like more grass is staying (last fall before seeding Put down new topsoil) but is turning brown and lying flat on the soil. Is there a way for me to tell what is causing the grass to go dormant/die? is it too shaded? is it soil? is it too much or too little water? Last year I put a mix of red, creeping, and chewing fescues. Thanks!!!

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Mike,

      Thanks a lot for your questions. It sounds like you have been extremely diligent with your lawn care practices, and it must be frustrating seeing poor results. All grasses require AT LEAST 4-6 hours of sunlight per day in order to grow properly. Many companies will tout “shade tolerance” as a feature of their particular grass blend, but they still require sunlight for effective growth and plant performance. If you think your lawn is getting less than the required amount of sun, consider pruning back trees and bushes in order to improve the access to sunlight. Also, be weary when watering shaded grass areas because it’s easy to oversaturate the grass. Regular watering is great for a healthy lawn that can absorb the water. However shaded areas will have a tough time dealing with additional water since they aren’t growing properly to start with. So try and open up your yard for more sunlight Mike, and cut back on watering a bit until you can be sure that the water will go down into the soil, and the surface water will dry up.

      Hope this helps and best of luck with the lawn!

      Cam
      -OrderSodNow

  23. Chris Hernandez says:

    We have had Bermuda sod laid just a week ago and it has turned yellow throughout the whole yard. When the person laid it temperature’s were over 100f. We have watered it 2 to 3 times a day and some area’s are turning green but 90% of the yard is still yellow. The temperature has been extremely hot over 100 degrees. How do you tell if my lawn is dead or just dormant?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Chris,

      It sounds like your Bermuda Grass is pretty well toast. Hot temperatures will wreak havoc on sod, and if it has been yellow since you laid it, there’s a good chance it’s dead. In order to go into dormancy, the sod needs to be established. Since it was freshly laid and has turned yellow, I’m afraid to say it won’t recover. I would contact the installer and try to work out how to rectify the situation.

      Best of luck getting it sorted out,

      Cam
      -OrderSodNow

  24. Lauren says:

    Hi, I had sod laid exactly 2 weeks ago. It was almost completely brown. I was told this is normal and to water for 1.hour per day, which we have done religiously. I would say about 50% of the grass had come back green and I just gently raked up a ton of dead stuff. My questions are: is it really normal to get brown sod, as I’ve been told? Is there something more I can do to encourage the grass to continue filling in?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Lauren!

      I am terribly sorry to hear that your fresh sod is in such bad condition! It is certainly not supposed to look like that… Perhaps your sod overheated from being rolled up on the skid for too long? It’s hard to make a proper diagnosis without seeing pictures of your yard! However if it is totally brown, I would reach out to the company that laid the sod and ask them to come make an assessment. There’s a chance that fertilizer could help depending on how bad the lawn is, but it sounds like you’ll have to replace your new lawn again if it hasn’t established by now…

      I hope this helps and let me know if you have any further concerns!

      All the best,

      Cam
      -LearnSodNow

  25. Alyssa says:

    My builder sodded the lot in front of me 6 days ago and left a half pallet of rolls since then. They watered it with a passing sprinkler but that is it. I had enough and took it today. It was brown and matted down this morning and it is more hay like now.

    Bermuda tiftuf.

    Do I have any chance at revival?
    NC

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Alyssa,

      I very highly doubt that the sod will be in good condition… 6 Days of sitting rolled up is way too long, and the sod will be long dead by now. Watering it while rolled up actually accelerates the heating process… You can imagine that since the sod is still alive when it’s harvested, it is constantly growing. Plant growth releases gases that build up in the sod roll causing damage to the plant. Watering can accelerate growth and cause the gases to build up quicker! I’d say to talk to the builder about better sod management!

      All the best,

      Cam
      -LearnSodNow

  26. Devin Scott says:

    It’s good to learn that re-sodding certain areas in your lawn are cheaper than easier than replacing your entire lawn. My wife is annoyed with our lawn looking bad. I’ll be sure to tell her that we won’t be replacing our entire lawn, just the dead spots.

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Devin,

      Depending on how big the dead spots are, you might be able to repair it with some fall overseeding! Consult your local sod farm and see if overseeding would be an option to revive your lawn!

      All the best,

      Cam
      -LearnSodNow

  27. Stephanie says:

    Hello,
    We are in Iowa and had some contractors lay sod alittle over 2 weeks ago. The grass looked immaculate and we took good care of it by watering it daily the first week and a half….then the unimaginable freezing temp and snow in end of October? Anyways the snow melted today and it looks like brown around the edges of each sod strip, is it dormant? We will get more snow this week. Currently the grass is very mushy and we will not walk back there till spring. Is this normal?

    • Stephanie says:

      Oh and by the way, typically we get snow end of November, which is why we opted to lay sod during October.

      • Cameron Shimoda says:

        Hey Stephanie,

        Thanks for your comment! Your sod situation sounds concerning. We typically say it take about 2 weeks of consistent watering for your sod to establish properly. If your sod is starting to brown just around the edges, there’s a chance that something else went wrong. Watering is a delicate balance and there’s a chance that you overwatered which can also hinder your sod’s ability to establish! In order to make a proper diagnosis we would need to see pictures of your yard. Feel free to send them to me, cameron@ordersodnow.me and I can try to make some suggestions, but ideally, you should contact your local sod supplier and see if they can provide some guidance! Every region has slightly different growing conditions and every grass blend grows a little bit differently.

        I look forward to hearing from you Stephanie!

        All the best and talk soon,

        Cam
        -OrderSodNow

  28. Melissa Uribe says:

    Hello! I live in Seattle, Washington and right now our temps are 50s during the day and 30s at night. I mowed my lawn yesterday and what used to look like a kind of green lawn uncovered a bunch of brown hay looking grass underneath it all with only a few green blades throughout. Did I kill my grass by cutting so late? And can I water it to help? Or would that just kill it more?

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Melissa,

      Mowing can be a delicate balance, especially when it comes to mowing height. We recommend to never cut any more than 1/3 of the grass blade off at a time. Any more than that and you can cause harm to your grass. With temperatures above freezing you should have been okay to mow, but once the grass gets frosty you want to try and avoid any foot traffic on it, let alone mowing. The cold temperatures make your grass rigid and as it’s going into dormancy, you want to preserve as much of the healthy plant as possible. It’s tough to make a proper recommendation without seeing pictures, and without experience growing grass in your particular climate in Seattle. I would suggest reaching out to your local sod supplier and sending some pictures over there! They will likely be able to make a better diagnosis along with some recommendations on a recuperation regiment. Let me know if you have any further concerns Melissa, and thanks for your comment!

      Cam
      -OrderSodNow

  29. Mike says:

    I had sod put down in early October. I live in New England and yesterday wanted to get one cut in before the winter. The mower was set at the shortest cut by mistake. Now I’m worried that with frost coming soon if the grass will survive being cut so short.

    • Cameron Shimoda says:

      Hey Mike,

      This is a little concerning… we recommend to never take more than 1/3 of the grass blade off at a time. That’s an easy mistake to make though, and I hope your lawn wasn’t cut TOO short. Short mowing can stress the plant out a lot and you’re right that especially going into winter this can be detrimental. I would recommend reaching out to your local sod supplier, send in some photos, and ask if they have any recommendations. A topdressing application may help to further insulate your lawn through winter, but I’m not sure if it will help tremendously depending on how short your lawn is.

      Thanks for your comment Mike and best of luck with your new lawn,

      Cam
      -LearnSodNow

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