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What Can I Do About the Brown Patches in My Grass?
There can be a wide variety of reasons for dead patches on lawn, fortunately, most are perfectly treatable! Get to the bottom of your lawn problems and turn your moonscape back into a beautiful landscape today.
Some of the most common causes of dead spots include pets, underwatering, heavy traffic, pests, and lack of sunlight. Let’s take a look at each in turn.
Why Is My Lawn Dying?
Naughty Pets Can Cause Dead Grass
Pets such as dogs and chickens can create dead or damaged patches in your lawn by scratching and digging. It’s usually pretty obvious when this is the cause. The best solution is to keep your pets away from the affected area to give them time to self-repair. Apply a wetting agent fertiliser now and again in 6 weeks to speed up the repair process. The slow-release fertiliser we recommend for our lawn varieties is Lawn Solutions Fertiliser.
Dog urine can also create a dead or dry patch on your lawn. When your dog regularly urinates in the same area, it can cause burns due to the high nitrogen content of the urine. The brown patch should self-repair if you can stop your dog from urinating in this area. If this is not possible, there is a product on the market called “dog rocks” that can help neutralise the urine, so it doesn’t burn your lawn. Simply add the flavourless, dissolvable rocks to your dog’s water bowl.
Underwatering in Hot and Dry Weather
Another common cause of dead patches in your entire lawn is underwatering, which causes it to dry out. Most of our instant lawn varieties, such as Sir Walter DNA Certified Buffalo, Tiftuf Bermuda, Sir Grange, and Eureka Premium VG Kikuyu, are drought tolerant and require minimal deep watering. However, in Melbourne’s hot summer months, your lawn may not get enough natural rainfall to meet its water needs to encourage deep roots in the soil underneath.
Generally, we recommend using an irrigation system or sprinklers to water any lawn, as it encourages a more even spread of water absorption across the area. Hand watering with a hose doesn’t provide an even distribution of water and can also be time-consuming.
Whenever daytime temperatures are over 28 degrees, we recommend setting your sprinkler or irrigation system to turn on once a week for about 20–30 minutes in the early morning or after dusk. After you have watered, stick your finger into the lawn to check that it has received enough water. If it feels wet below the surface, your job is done.
Heavy Foot Traffic
Even though it is capable of self-repair, when your lawn receives heavy traffic from pets or humans – for example, after a party – dead patches can occur through excessive wear.
When this happens, you should remove all traffic from the affected areas and apply a slow-release fertiliser such as Lawn Solutions Fertiliser every 4 weeks until the area has self repaired. During Melbourne’s cooler months (May to September), self-repair and lawn growth may be slow.
Pests Can Encourage Lawn Disease
Lawn grubs can be a problem at certain times of the year, although they don’t tend to like Melbourne’s relatively dry climate and are much less prevalent here than on the more humid NSW and QLD coasts.
The best way to diagnose lawn grubs is to place a wet hessian bag or old towel on the lawn overnight. If, when you lift the bag/towel in the morning, you see an abundance of creepy crawlies, you have your answer!
Low Sunlight and Heat Exposure
Lack of sunlight can cause bare patches for some of our lawn varieties. Eureka Kikuyu Premium VG and Tif Tuf should receive full sunlight, whereas Sir Walter DNA Certified Buffalo and Sir Grange require only about 4–6 hours of sunlight per day.
If your lawn and grassroots are not receiving enough sunlight, consider pruning back surrounding trees, especially during the cooler months. You can also support your lawn to self-repair by increasing fertilising frequency to every 8–10 weeks and reducing traffic in the lead-up to and during the cooler months.
3 Ways To Fix A Dying Lawn
Aeration removes small plugs of soil from the lawn to increase airflow and water penetration. This process helps to reduce soil compaction, which can prevent nutrients and water from reaching the grassroots. Aeration can be done using a specialised machine or a simple garden fork.
Replacing instant lawn
Lawn replacement is planting new grass pieces seed in areas where the lawn is thinning or dying. Before replanting, removing any dead grass, weeds, or debris from the area and loosening the soil to ensure good seed-to-soil contact is important. Replanting should be done in the early spring when temperatures are mild and there is plenty of moisture.
Fertilisation can help to revive a dying lawn by providing essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Before fertilising, it's important to test the soil to determine the specific nutrient needs of your lawn. Over-fertilising can do more harm than good, so following the recommended application rates and frequency is important. Fertilisation should also be done with regular watering to promote healthy growth.
Frequently Asked Questions About Dead Grass
What's the best way to fix burnt patches on my lawn?
The best way to fix burnt patches on a lawn is to remove the dead grass and loosen the soil in the affected area. Once the area is prepared, replace it with instant lawn pieces and water it regularly to promote healthy growth. It's important to choose a grass variety that is suitable for your climate and soil type.
What causes round, black dead patches in my lawn?
Various factors, including fungal diseases, pests, or improper watering or fertilising, can cause round dead patches in a lawn. One common cause of round dead patches is a fungal disease called "brown patch," which typically affects warm-season grasses like Bermuda grass and Zoysia grass.
Pests like grubs and chinch bugs can also cause circular dead patches by feeding on the roots of the grass. To determine the cause of round dead patches in your lawn, it's important to inspect the grass closely and look for signs of disease or pest infestation. Once the cause is identified, appropriate treatment measures, such as fungicides or pesticides, can be taken to address the issue and prevent future damage to the lawn.
Put Down the Garden Fork and Pick up an Instant Lawn
With some simple awareness and good maintenance of your lawn, you can avoid brown patches and dead patches altogether. For a quick remedy, you can also consider any of our instant lawn solutions to repair dead patches and re-establish a healthy lawn in less time than growing from seed.