How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

Last update: 2021-05-16

Wonder why your turf turns brown and looks lifeless?

Want to know how to revive a dead lawn?

Congrats! You’re landing on the right page. In the post today, our experts are going to tell you all the possible reasons causing the turf to brown, and how to revive a dead lawn efficiently. Read on!

How To Revive A Dead Lawn

Proper Site Preparation

For permanent success with your new lawn, it is essential to prepare the area properly by:

Understand the cause

Is your lawn actually dead or just dormant?

There are two methods to know: by watering or by tugging on the grass plants. A dead lawn won’t turn green when rain or when you begin watering it.

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

The grassroots are also easily pulled out from the ground. On the contrary, dormant grasses still keep their roots quickly when pulled.

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

Reasons for a brown lawn

Here are some common causes of a dormant or dead lawn that you should know:

  • Fungus

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

  • Pet spots

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

  • Salt damage

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

  • Insects

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

  • Improper watering or mowing, or both

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

  • Thatch

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

  • Drought

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

Remove weeds from your lawn

First thing first, you should identify the types of weeds in your lawn and how dense they are to find the right treatment. If there are just a few small bushes of weeds around the area, remove them manually or with a small shovel.

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

If your case is worse – weeds are everywhere in the lawn, it’s worth considering using a nonselective herbicide.

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

For the second method, remember to:

  • Only apply on warm to hot days and avoid windy or rainy weather.
  • Use the right amount of herbicide following instructions
  • Keep pets and kids a couple of hours away from the area until the chemicals dry.

Eliminate Thatch (Optional)

If thatch is one of the reasons making your turf brown, you should eliminate them.

What is thatch?

It is just a decomposing plant material buildup on the soil surface. If this layer is under ½” thick, it is still fine.

On the contrary, it might disturb the root development as well as the movement of nutrients, water, and air. This results in many diseases and insect issues on your turf.

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

To remove thatch, use either power rakes or vertical mowers.

Mow The Lawn

Whether your turf is dormant or dead, it is recommended to mow it.

Since grass contains lots of nitrogen, once being mowed, the clippings will become a sort of natural compost to feed the soil, enriching its nitrogen content to hence help new turf grow healthier, fuller, and greener.

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

Note: Choose the right mowing blade mode depending on the type of grass in your area. For example:

Type of grass

Mowing blade setting

St. Augustinegrass

2-1/2” to 3”


½” to 1.5”

Kentucky bluegrass

¾” to 2-1/2”

Tall fescue

1” to 2”

Fine fescue

1” to 2-1/2”

Perennial ryegrass

¾” to 2”

Aerate the soil

To enhance air movement in the soil, till your lawn to 5”-6” deep.

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

You can combine this task with fertilizing - spreading a layer of compost on the surface of your lawn (around 4-6” thick), then start aerating the soil. With patches of dead grasses, you can rake them from the site if wanted, or simply till it down.

This works well on both sandy soil and clay soil.

For sandy soil, aeration helps increase its water retention level. For clay soil, its bulkiness is decreased hugely.

Improve The Soil’s Nutrients

Phosphorus is a vital soil element that helps grassroots shed healthily.

Therefore, if you have just removed thatch or dead grasses from your site, it’s worth testing the soil to know if it is phosphorus-rich.

It’s lucky if your lawn soil contains enough phosphorus. In this case, you can add grass-starter fertilizers to boost the further healthy development of new grasses.

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

If the soil of your site is lacking this element, determine the right fertilizer as well as the required amount.

Whichever the case of your site, always water it well before fertilizing.

Plant New Grasses

There are two options to plant new grasses: by laying down sod or by seeds, both of which are versatile to be used for different sizes of areas.

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

After laying down sods or planting grass seeds, it is necessary to roll the area since this helps make good contact with the soil to aid in new grass establishment.

Things to remember after laying down sods or planting new grass seeds:

  • Only mow the new grass once they have grown to 1.5 times its recommended height, according to Clemson University
  • Avoid pulling hefty equipment over the area
  • Don’t run or walk on lawn

Consistent Watering

Even if grown in the hottest weather, your turf can survive well as long as it’s provided with enough water. Remember that sun heat doesn’t kill grasses, but dehydration does!

If not hydrated properly, grasses will go dormant.

How To Revive A Dead Lawn?

When watering, control the amount to avoid providing too little or too much water for your turf.

The recommended amount of water provided to a lawn should be 1” per week. With new grass sprouts, you should water them twice a day, in the early morning and afternoon.


After new grasses become established, you should adjust the irrigation, fertilizing, and mowing schedule to help you grow faster. This is the end of this article about how to revive a dead lawn. Thanks a lot for reading!

Harry Ramos
Harry Ramos

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