Skip to main content

Living in Ontario your lawn experiences all four seasons of weather conditions. But you might be wondering when your lawn turns brown is it dead or just dormant?

What is dormant grass?

summer winter grass

Dormant grass is basically the lawn “going to sleep” in an act of self preservation during extreme conditions. In an effort to survive this extreme stress it goes dormant to conserve nutrients and water. Typically this occurs in the winter, but can also happen in the summer during drought and extreme heat conditions that stress the turf. A dormant lawn will usually present as an evenly browned lawn rather than patchy areas.

During suspected dormancy:

  • avoid heavy foot traffic on the grass
  • don’t cut too short
  • don’t miss watering

What is dead grass?

dead grass patch

Dead grass can be hard to differentiate from dormant grass – especially during hot, dry conditions when the grass may actually be dormant. Typically dead grass will be found in patches, rather than having an evenly browned lawn. If you don’t suspect disease, you might have to wait until those conditions improve to try and revive your grass first. If revival does not work, try the tug test – explained later in this article.

Grass can die from:

  • lack of water or drought
  • lack of fertilizing
  • over-fertilizing
  • improper grass cutting
  • pet urination
  • lawn pests or diseases

How to revive dormant grass

1. Water your lawn

Watering your lawn regularly is vital for the health of your lawn. During extreme heat and periods without rain, it is especially important that you don’t miss your watering schedule.

For tips on watering your lawn, see this blog post.

2. Lawn fertilizing

Having a good lawn fertilizing program is essential for your lawns health, one of the reasons your lawn goes into dormancy is to preserve nutrient when it is low. Be sure to sign up for the Standard Package for season long fertilizing and weed control so your lawn won’t miss a treatment!

3. Topdressing Treatment

Once the drought or extreme heat has passed, try a topdressing and overseeding treatment to revive your lawn. Topdressing involves laying nutrient rich organic topsoil over your lawn followed by grass seed to promote new growth and nutrient absorption.

3. Aeration Treatment

Once the drought or extreme heat has passed, try aeration treatment to create small holes in the lawn in which water, nutrients, oxygen and fertilizer can be absorbed into the roots. This can be combined with topdressing and overseeding to treat very distressed lawns.

The tug test

dead grass

If you’ve tried revival and think your lawn is dead and not dormant, try to pick up a section of grass using your fingers. If it completely pulls out with ease without any resistance, your lawn is likely dead.

At this point you need to explore sod installation.

Visit our sod installation page for more details.

Prevention is always better than revival. Lawn replacement is expensive and can be easily avoided with a proper maintenance program and watering schedule. Let Maggio take care of it.

Visit our services page or get a quote today.