Turning Your Brown Lawn Green

landscape of green grass during early morning. Brown grass is not what you intended to grow when you sowed all those grass seeds, yet that’s the current colour of your lawn. Turning your brown lawn green again can be done, but it will be a process that will take a little time, effort and maybe a little help from a garden maintenance company. Lawn care is a rewarding task that will improve the curb appeal of your home and also its value. Follow these tips to help discover why your lawn is brown and how to turn it back to a lush shade of green.

What’s the Problem?

The first step is to discover what has caused your lawn to turn brown in the first place. The underlying reason may be dehydration, improper mowing, disease or pests, and until you find out what the problem is you will not be able to fix it.

Dehydration

To determine if the problem is dehydration, identify the exact type of grass you have and the amount of water it needs. Next, place four empty cans or jars at the four corners of the lawn and turn on the irrigation system for 20 minutes. Measure the amount of water collected in the cans/jars to see if the water amount is sufficient and if the lawn is receiving uniform amounts. Make adjustments to the irrigation system if needed to ensure your lawn is receiving adequate hydration.

Pets

Does the lawn have a few brown spots within healthy green areas? The problem is most likely dog urine.

Chemical Burn

It could also be caused from fertiliser burn or improper mowing. Applying too much fertiliser, herbicide or any other chemical in one spot will burn grass and turn it brown. If your lawn mower has a dull blade it will rip grass up by the roots instead of cutting off the tops and create brown spots in the lawn. Sharpen you lawnmower blades at the end of each cutting session. To restore healthy, green growing grass to the brown spot you will first have to flush the area with water to remove the irritant. Run the water hose on the brown spots until they are saturated, then allow the water to seep into soil overnight. Repeat the process on the second day. The water will dilute the irritant and remove it from the grass roots. After the area(s) has been cleansed it can be re-seeded at the right time of year, which will be spring or autumn. Making the switch from chemical food and treatments to organic products can also help prevent browning and keep the grass green and growing. Organic products are better for the environment too.

Disease & Fungi

Diseases leave behind behind different identifying trademarks, but all will turn your lawn brown. Most lawn diseases are of the fungal variety and they take on differing forms; some leave thin brown lines of dead grass across the lawn, some leave rings, other fungi leave behind slime. The more common fungi are:
  • Dollar Spot, which are small, round brown spots that spring up on cool, dew-filled nights
  • Brown Patch attacks turf during hot, humid weather
  • Fusarium Blight that attacks grass blades during times of hot, dry weather.
Different fungi require different treatment, so it’s important to identify the fungal problem. Some of these diseases will require a fungicide treatment, other will require an adjustment to the way the grass is cut. Left untreated, they will all turn the lawn brown and eventually kill it. There are various causes of fungal diseases, ranging from compacted soil over-watering, over fertilising, drought, wrong type of grass sown for your particular area, and cutting the grass too low. Aeration will correct the problem of compacted soil and and de-thatching the lawn will allow more air, moisture and food to penetrate through the soil and into plant roots. A top dressing of compost will feed the lawn organically, help prevent diseases and improve drainage.

Grass Type

If the problem is the wrong type of grass for your area, re-seed the lawn with a variety that is formulated especially for your climate. The grass will have a much better chance of not only surviving, but thriving if it is a native blend. The temperate climate of Sydney lends itself well to growing a wide range of grass types, but a type formulated for your landscape should be selected. Like a shade tolerant variety if your landscape is shady, a wear-resistant variety for heavy foot traffic landscapes and drought resistant for dry areas.

Improper Mowing

The way the grass is cut will also play a large role in how healthy and green the turf is. Set the mower at the correct height and only mow with a sharp blade. Grass is damaged and more susceptible to diseases if the blade is too low or dull. If your lawn is infested with pests or has diseased spots, wash and disinfect the blades and underside of mower after cutting the grass.

Pests

To determine if the culprit is pests, look at individual blades of grass for signs of chewing. Also look for holes in the soil where pests hide, turf that feels spongy when walked on, turf that has a purple tinge before it turns brown, and sections within the brown areas that have no grass. If any of these signs are visible, pest infestation is the underlying cause of your brown lawn. An application of chemical or organic pesticide will be needed to get rid of the pests and restore your lawn back to health. Effective pesticide products can be purchased from your local garden supply store or landscape professionals can be hired to come out and do the application for you.

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