Is My Lawn Dead, or Just Dormant?

What is Dormant Grass?

A brown lawn does not always mean that your lawn is dead, it could just be dormant! Dormancy is essentially the lawn ‘going to sleep’. It can occur in the winter as well as the hot summer months. When grass goes dormant for the cold winter months, it shuts down and turns brown in order to conserve water and nutrients. When grass goes dormant in the summer, it also turns brown. Summer dormancy occurs when the grass is stressed out by intense heat and drought. It can stay in this dormant state safely for 3-4 weeks without dying, although intense drought will kill it over time. Dormant turf is not very pleasant to look at with its unsightly brown tinge. Fortunately the grass will green up once conditions improve. dormant grass sod turf lawn dormancy

How to Revive

It can be tough to determine whether or not your lawn is dormant or if it is actually dead. A good way to determine if it is dormant is by reversing the issue: water! Water it regularly and heavily for a couple of days. This should bring your lawn out of dormancy. Also try to minimize the foot traffic on your lawn, as foot traffic can damage the root systems on dormant grass. Hold back on mowing your lawn, as longer blades of grass will provide shade for the roots. The longer blades keep the moisture from evaporating in the heat as quickly. Your watering will become more efficient and effective that way!water dormant grass turf sod lawn care maintenance revive dormancy

How to Repair

After watering there may be some patches or areas that stay brown. If there are many areas that need to be replaced or the areas are quite large, sodding is your best bet. To do so rake up and remove all of the brown, dead grass. Lay down a thin layer of good quality top soil, we suggest BigYellowBags Nature’s Blend for best results. Level the area to ensure that the sod will be laid down flat to avoid future issues. Lay down the sod and water immediately and regularly. For a more in-depth guide on laying sod, check out our 7-easy-steps for sod installation.

If the areas are small and few in number, reseeding may be the way to go. Using a good quality soil will help fill in the small areas and will be more cost effective than sodding. Rake up and remove all of the dead grass and lay down a layer of good quality soil. We suggest BigYellowBags Professional Top Dressing Mix for best results. It will provide a perfect growing environment for your seed as well as help fill in any unevenness in the areas. Spread the seed on top of the soil, and lightly rake it in to the soil. This will ensure that it does not blow or get eaten by birds. Water the area frequently to ensure proper germination and growth.

soil BigYellowBag Natures Blend Professional Top Dressing Mix Sod Grass Repair Overseed

Checking your lawn before deciding it is dead could potentially save you time as well as money. Replacing your lawn is hard work, so ensure you give it proper attention for a few days before writing it off! Re-sodding or reseeding certain areas is definitely a lot easier and more cost effective than replacing your entire lawn!

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2 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:

      All the best and happy sodding,


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