How to Fix a Dead Lawn: 6 Step Plan

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When your lawn starts to lose the lush green and the brown starts to take over, you begin to worry that I may be dying. And when this happens, taking it back to its greenish beauty can be a challenging job.

Luckily, it is not impossible. Even if your grass is already looking dark-brown and lifeless, you can still bring it back to life. Here, we’ll teach you how.

Whether it is truly dead or just dormant, we’ll teach you how to fix a dead lawn? in only a few steps (without using moss). It doesn’t matter if you’re a beginner or an experienced gardener. You’ll learn a thing or two in this guide.

Below, we explain everything you need to do and a little more – so keep scrolling!

Is Your Lawn Actually Dead?

Is Your Lawn Actually Dead?

First off, you need to determine whether you have a dead lawn or just dormant grass. This could save you a lot of effort and time, plus some money in the process.

So follow these steps to find out:

1. See the Color & State

Not the most accurate way to find out, but it works. If you can tell the difference between dead grass colors and dormant grass, then you’ll realize what is happening.

For example, dirt-like brown patches with dead spots all across the lawn mean the grass is dying. Simultaneously, any damage on the soil, signs of pests and diseases, plus a deep-brown color mean the grass is not alive.

But if you see that the grass is losing its color uniformly, then it is probably dormant.

2. Check for Weeds

Most types of grasses are pretty fragile. If invasive weed species get on the lawn, then there’s a high chance they will slowly kill your grass.

Check that you don’t have any weeds on the lawn. It is essential to prevent weed from growing if you want to fix a dead lawn. Otherwise, it will slowly die out when weed starts taking over. 

3. Do the Tug Test

If you can’t find out by just looking at the grass, you may want to perform the tug test. It is easy: just pull the grass you think is dead. If the grass pulls out of the dirt with roots without breaking, then that’s a clear sign of death. 

But if the grass looks brown but doesn’t come out easily, it’s just dormant or changing colors. 

4. Look for Patterns

Some lawns start to die because they’re not evenly watered or because people walk too much over them. When this happens, the grass only the affected parts will appear dead. 

If you see some lawn patterns getting more brown than the rest, check whether you’re watering those areas properly or people are not walking over too much. You probably aren’t taking proper care of the lawn, which is why the grass is dying out. 

Lack of watering will cause the grass to go dormant at first and then die after a few weeks/months. Too much traffic will just kill it forever. 

5. Water Effects

Lastly to fix a dead lawn, you can check by watering the whole lawn and see how it acts afterward. 

Dehydration is a pretty common issue with brown grass, especially in dry and hot places. If you don’t water consistently, then the grass will start to die out.

That’s why you can check by watering for one or two days consistently. You will see a difference afterward. If there’s no difference after watering, the grass is likely dying or already dead.

How to Revive a Dead Lawn in 6 Steps?

So, learned how to check whether the lawn is truly dead or just dormant? Below, you’ll find out how to revive it either way.

The following steps will help you bring life back to your yard, no matter what’s happening. So follow carefully for the best results:

1. Remove Dead Material

Remove Dead Material
Removing Dead Leaves on the Garden Plants by Using Small Scissors. Gardening Theme.

If your lawn is truly dead or in the process, then to fix a dead lawn, the first thing to do is remove mulch, leaves, and any other dead debris. Use a rake or a dethatcher as necessary. 

When the grass dies, absorbing nutrients from the soil, water, and sun becomes a lot more complicated. So you’ll want to clean out everything first.

But try to remove the dead material by its root. This should avoid any decomposition later on, which could cause disease.

2. Mow & Aerate 

Mow & Aerate
Mowing or cutting the long grass with a green lawn mower in the summer sun

In case there’s still a part of the lawn growing healthy and tall, be sure to mow it as well. Even though this will affect how the yard looks, it will be healthier in the long run. Another advantage is that you can use the clippings as fertilizer later on. You just need to use a catcher or a side discharge. 

Once you’ve mowed the lawn, then you can proceed to aerate the soil. We recommend only aerating on the areas where the grass is actually dead. You can leave the greenest areas alone, so you don’t affect their growth.

Aerating is all about opening holes and letting the soil receive some air. When grass dies, it blocks any air from entering the ground, killing helpful bacteria and draining it out of nutrients. To revive the lawn, you need to revert that by aerating. 

3. Spread Some Compost

Spread Some Compost

Look for a topdressing mix or compost and spread it all around the mowed and aerated grass. This will make the soil richer, fresher, denser, and more hydrated, so the grass can grow healthier and faster later on.

You don’t need to add too much topdressing, though. A thin layer will suffice. Spread a bit more on the areas with dead grass if you can.

4. Reseed the Lawn (Optional)

Reseed the Lawn (Optional)

You don’t have to reseed if the lawn is dead in only a few areas. But if the majority of the yard is gone, then reseeding comes like an excellent idea.

There are tons of different seed mixtures to pick from. We recommend getting something like Centipede or Kentucky for the faster-growing results. Even then, you must still choose the right species for your lawn, considering weather conditions and soil quality.

Spreading the seeds is pretty straightforward. You just need to apply the mixture all across the dead patches already aerated and top-dressed. Try to get them deep into the soil and topdressing for the best results. 

5. Apply Fertilizer

Apply Fertilizer
Gardener with Pesticide Spraying Equipment Fertilizing Inside Garden. Synthetic Material Applied to Soils and Plant Tissues.

If you want the reseeding and the rest of the steps to work, you will need to fertilize the lawn. This is a must if you want the lawn to grow fast and healthy.

Fertilizing doesn’t have to be difficult, though. But you must pick the right fertilizer and apply just enough. We strongly advise going for natural fertilizers (like grass clippings) as the best options. Commercial fertilizers with phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium are also super-helpful. Be sure they come from natural sources.

This will improve the effects of the compost and clippings (if you spread any). And sure enough, it will give the lawn the nutrients necessary to start growing right away.

6. Hydrate the Grass

Hydrate the Grass
Automatic watering grass, lawn maintenance, gardening and sprinklers

Finish by watering the whole grass as necessary. But you mustn’t spray water too harshly. Instead, focus on using a spray nozzle or something similar that can reduce the pressure. A soaker hose may also work. 

The focus is to prevent harming the reseeding, so the seeds stay below the fertilizer, compost, and topdressing.

This process is not a one-day thing, though. The hydration should stay on for at least 2 weeks if you want to enjoy its effects. Sure, you won’t last the 2 weeks watering all the time. But you must water the lawn for at least 30 minutes a day during this period.

Still, you must avoid overwatering the lawn. If the grass is not exactly dead but recovering from diseases, you can push it back into dormancy by spraying too much water. So try not to water them more than 1 hour a day. 

After a few weeks, you should start seeing the grass growing greenback. That means the whole process was worth it. 

Bottom Line

Now that you’ve learned how to fix a dead lawn in 6 steps, it is time to put the shovel up and get to work.

This won’t be an easy job, quick, or free to do. But it will be the only way you can give the lawn its life back.

If the problem is not dead grass but instead an unleveled yard, check our guide on how to level it.

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