How to Revive Dead Grass

Brown leaves and grass.

(Updated May 30, 2023)

Dead grass is an eyesore that impacts your home’s curb appeal. If your lawn is not looking its best, this guide on how to revive dead grass will help return the lush, green sheen back to your lawn.

Tips for How to Revive Dead Grass

If you’re a homeowner who’s dealing with a dying lawn, you’ll want to know how to revive dead grass fast. One question many homeowners ask is: Will watering dead grass bring it back? This depends on whether the lawn is really dead or just looks that way.

First, you’ll need to confirm if the grass is dead or just dormant. Cool-season lawns in northern climates sometimes go dormant in midsummer, especially during droughts. You can test to see if your grass is dead or dormant by grabbing some blades and seeing how easily you can pull them out of the ground. If they come out of the ground without any resistance, this is a good indicator that the grass is dead. If you have to put a little effort into removing the grass, it’s more likely that it’s dormant.

Next, carefully inspect the crowns, which are the whitish parts at the base of the grass. If the crowns are white, this is an indication they are still alive, and more frequent watering should revive your lawn. However, if the crowns are brown and dried out, the grass won’t green up again, no matter how much you water it. At this point, lawn seeding or laying sod are your best options for a healthy, green lawn. If you’re not sure how to restore your lawn, ask The Grounds Guys® for help.

If your otherwise healthy lawn just has some dead patches that need reviving, you might be able to tackle the job yourself. Try laying a sod patch over a problem area; sod is a great choice if you have several bare spots to treat. Start by removing any dead grass with a shovel. Once you’ve removed the dead grass, smooth out the area, so it’s level with the rest of your lawn. After laying the new sod, make sure you water it a few times a day within the first few weeks to give the roots a good chance to get established. If you have more than a few patches to replace, you may need help from a professional lawn care provider. They have the know-how and proper equipment to tackle this labour-intensive job more efficiently, which will save you a lot of time and effort.

Identifying the Cause of Dead Grass

If your grass has suddenly died, identifying why it happened can help prevent it from occurring again. Grass death is often caused by various lawn diseases, but they can be mistaken for other problems, such as fertilizer burn, poor growing conditions, road salt, and dog urine. Here are some of the more common ailments that may be damaging your lawn:

  • Rust disease: This disease affects the nutrients and water supply, which can cause your grass to become undernourished and stressed. It can cause grass blades to turn an orange-yellow colour and break easily.
  • Leaf spot: These tan and dark brown spots are caused by fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases, which can negatively affect the overall health of your grass.
  • Dollar spot: This lawn disease affects warm and cool-season grass, like we have here in Canada. Symptoms can appear from late spring to late fall and include round silver-dollar-sized patches.
  • Necrotic ring spot: This fungal disease usually occurs in spring and can reappear in later fall into early winter. It shows up as yellow to light green circular patches on your lawn. Over time, these thinning grass patches turn brown and die.
  • Powdery mildew: Does it look like your grass has been sprinkled with talcum powder or flour? If so, your grass may have powdery mildew. Typical symptoms include white, isolated spore masses on the grass blades.

Lawn diseases aren’t the only culprits when it comes to lawn damage. Insects, weeds, and small animals can also cause grass to die. Some of the most common insects found in northern-climate lawns include chinch bugs, white grubs, and sod webworms. We recommend that you inspect your lawn often to detect pest problems and other issues early. If you’re concerned about the condition of your grass, talk to The Grounds Guys. Our experts will be happy to provide a free on-site evaluation.

Removing Dead Grass and Debris

It’s essential to remove dead grass and debris. Any buildup can weaken the grass and cause it to die. You don’t have to remove all the grass; breaking up the top layer of thatch will usually suffice. You can use a regular rake for the removal process. However, if there’s a large area of dead grass, a dethatcher or power rake might work best.

Save yourself the time and hassle of removing dead grass by hiring The Grounds Guys. We provide free estimates and stand by all our work with the Neighbourly Done Right Promise™, so you can rest assured that we’ll make it right if you’re not completely satisfied.

Improving Soil Quality

If you’re wondering how to get grass green again, improving your lawn’s soil quality can help. When your lawn’s soil is healthy, it thrives. Fertilizing is one of the best ways to enhance soil quality. Here in Canada, early spring and fall is the best time to fertilize. Fertilizing in the spring or fall gives your grass time to strengthen before the arrival of more extreme weather. Applying fertilizer encourages the roots of the grass to penetrate deeply into the soil. It stimulates biological activity, which can help your lawn resist diseases, stress, and insect damage.

Choosing the Right Grass Seed for Your Lawn

Overseeding is an excellent step in restoring your lawn to good health. Spreading grass seed can bring back your lawn’s thick, lush, and healthy green appearance. But selecting the right grass seed for your lawn is essential. Of course, the best grass seed is a matter of preference, location, and climate. You can always contact one of our lawn care experts to learn more about which type of seed is best for your region. .

Here are some of the best seed choices for grass in Canada:

  • Kentucky Bluegrass
  • Tall Fescue
  • Perennial Ryegrass
  • Annual Ryegrass
  • Bermuda Grass
  • Canada Bluegrass

Proper Planting Techniques for Reviving Dead Grass

Preparing the affected area is a critical first step in restoring your lawn to good health. Depending on the size of the area you’re dealing with, be sure to choose a day or two when the weather is relatively nice. You don’t want to be doing this work when it’s windy, cold, or rainy. Once you have chosen the days, follow these planting guidelines to successfully complete the project:

  • Pull weeds or use herbicide (one that is safe for lawns) to remove unwanted weeds from the area.
  • Dethatch the existing lawn to promote the circulation of air, water, and nutrients to the soil underneath this layer of decomposing plant material.
  • Till the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 centimetres. You can also add organic compost to increase nutrient content, reduce the bulkiness of clay soil, and improve the water-holding capacity of sandy soil.
  • Test the soil to see if there’s enough phosphorus. Adding grass-starter fertilizer can assist in the healthy development of new grass.
  • Reseed or plant sod. Spread grass seeds over the area and top the seeds with a thin layer of soil. Alternatively, you can lay down sod. Make sure the new pieces sit firmly against the existing ones and that their roots make firm contact with the soil. Learn whether you need to seed or sod your lawn.

Maintenance Tips for Keeping Your Revived Grass Healthy

Knowing how to revive dead grass is just the beginning. Proper maintenance practices can keep your revived grass looking healthy all year. Keep it healthy by mowing properly, fertilizing, aerating, topdressing, overseeding, and watering. We’ll expand on these lawn care practices below.

Once you have revived your dead grass, keep it looking great with these tips:

  • Irrigate the newly restored patches by watering daily to keep the soil moist (but not soggy) for the next two to three weeks. Gradually reduce the frequency of watering as the new lawn establishes itself.
  • Mow about once a week to maintain grass that’s a few inches long. Keep your mower’s blades sharp because your lawn can recover faster when it has a clean cut.
  • Fertilize every four to five weeks through the spring and fall. After the first year, fertilize your lawn once in the spring and again in the fall.
  • Aerate and dethatch every couple of years to help the soil breathe.
  • Overseeding your lawn regularly keeps it looking dense. It’s best to spread grass seed in late summer to early fall. You’ll also want to topdress with compost or topsoil at the same time. Learn more about how to overseed your lawn here.
  • Keep dogs off the lawn. Some dogs have acidic urine that kills grass. If you have no other choice, dilute the spot with water immediately after.
  • Move above-ground swimming pools and waterslides around the yard so that one area of grass doesn’t suffocate all summer long.

Using Professional Lawn Care Services to Revive Dead Grass

Some homeowners prefer the DIY approach to lawn care. However, maintaining a green, healthy lawn all year long can be challenging. Laying sod, overseeding, adding fertilizer, mowing, and other best practices is labour-intensive, time-consuming work. If you don’t have the knowledge, tools, or time to revive your dead grass, leave professional lawn maintenance to The Grounds Guys. Why bother with the hassle if you don’t have to? We provide a full range of lawn care services, from mowing and trimming to aerating and fertilization.

With The Grounds Guys, you get:

  • Free estimates
  • Timely service
  • Professional, top-quality work
  • Upfront pricing
  • Local lawn care experts that take pride in their community.

Our professionals are experts when it comes to how to revive dead grass, so let us do the work for you. We know how to get grass green again! Contact us today and request a free estimate!