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Lawns Turning Brown - Reasons and Solutions

Lawns turning brown, or even a yellow color is a cause of concern for most lawn owners, and is a signifier that we may have problems with our lawn which can be either mild or more severe in nature, depending on what the cause is of the lawn turning brown or yellow.

So when lawns do start appearing yellow or brown, it’s a simple case of tracking down whatever it is that could be causing the problem by going through a simple checklist to determine which of the possible issues is responsible for our own lawn turning brown or yellow in color. Once the cause is determined, we can then take remedial action to repair our lawns and bring them back to health.

Lawns Turning Brown In Winter

This can be a common cause of warm season lawns such as Saint Augustine, Zoysia and Bermuda lawns to lose their dark green color during the colder months of the year. Often the colder the region where the warm season lawn is being grown, then this would often equate to the possibility of that lawn losing color and turning brown or even yellow during the coldest months.

The colder the climate, the higher the possibility of a warm season lawn losing color in Winter.

There is not a lot which can be done to fix this situation, but the following options may possibly be of help:

  • adding an Iron supplement to fertilization in the Fall - Iron is great for Winter lawn care
  • fertilizing the lawn in Fall, with a quality slow release lawn fertilizer
  • mulch lawn mowing in Fall, and Winter if the lawn is to be mowed in Winter at all
  • possibly choosing a different lawn variety which is better suited to your region - look around to see which lawn types do best in Winter in your local area

Lack Of Water

A lawn which is being under-watered, or incorrectly watered, will obviously lose health fast. The determinant of this will be the lawn dying off, gaining bare patches, thinning out, and often turning into a straw type of color and straw-like in appearance in places on the lawn.

The solution is usually simple:

  • ensure the lawn is receiving adequate water for each season's demands
  • ensure good watering practices are being used, as it is possible to be giving the lawn enough water yet the lawn being unable to use that water
  • try to create a drought tolerant lawn, which is a watering method that trains lawns to send down very deep roots into the soil, so as that the lawn then requires less water, less watering, and is far more heat and drought resistant

Soil Deficiency

A lawn which is trying to survive in very poor soils, or in situations where very few nutrients are available to it, will naturally be unhealthy year round, and will present as being brown or yellow or even just a paler shade of green than what should be normal.

Options to investigate to improve the soil and lawn are:

  • ensure a good year round fertilization program, using quality fertilizers, is being adhered to
  • is mulch mowing a possibility on the lawn, in order to feed the soil with nutrients from grass clippings?
  • can a clay-breaker product be used on heavy clay soils?
  • can a clay based soil be aerated and the holes filled with a course sand?
  • can sandy soils be improved via mulch mowing, or with natural manure based fertilizer products, and with top-dressing the lawn with a rich organic topsoil?
  • what is the pH level of the soil, and does the pH need to be adjusted?

Sunburnt Lawns

Sunburnt lawns will definitely turn brown, and even straw-like in appearance. General causes for sunburnt lawns include:

  • lawn fertilizing during hot weather, fertilizer left sitting on lawn without being watered in for too long during hot weather
  • a shallow lawn root system has dried out in hot weather and caused damage to the lawn, this is caused by lawn watering which is too frequent and without enough water being applied at each watering
  • just bad luck, a sudden and unexpected heat wave came out of nowhere

Solutions to the above problems are easily arrived at.

Lawn Disease

Most lawn diseases will appear as brown patches or spots on the lawn, or sometimes as very dark green irregular patches on lawns, and will rarely be seen as covering an entire lawn: so the entire lawn never look uniformly discolored or brown. So lawn disease is unlikely as being the cause of an entire lawn turning yellow or brown.

Take All Root Rot lawn disease can possibly do this type of damage and is usually incurable, though this disease is rare and will unlikely to be the cause of the discoloration of the entire lawn, unless we are one of the rare unlucky ones.

Lawn Pests

Lawn pests are unlikely to make a lawn turn brown. Usually this type of damage is easily diagnosed as being lawn pests as the turf itself is often eaten away at, and at great speed too.

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