Is it possible to water your lawn and bring it back from the brink of death if it has turned brown? That is dependent on whether it is dead or dormant.

It is critical to distinguish between dead and dormant grass. You should also understand how long dormant grass can be before dying and how to effectively bring dormant grass back to life.

If the grass is truly dead, no amount of water will revive it. Brown grass, on the other hand, could be dormant grass. In that case, you have the option of resurrecting it. Take care not to overwater, and be patient as it may take some time.

In addition to expert advice and personal experience, I created a spreadsheet that shows what temperatures cause different types of grasses to go dormant and when you can expect them to go dormant and start turning green again.

Dormant vs. Dead

It can be difficult to tell if your grass is dormant or dead. A variety of factors can cause your lawn to go dormant. When grass goes dormant, it is conserving energy and water. This can help it survive harsh conditions. The roots will receive a lot of moisture and nutrients, allowing the grass to survive. Because the resources are being directed toward the roots, the blades will eventually turn brown.

There are a few things you can do to determine whether your grass is truly dead or if it can be revived into a green lawn again.


This is a good test for determining whether your grass is dead or just dormant. Pull out a section of the brown grass. If the grass comes out easily and with little to no resistance, it is dead. If this is the case, you will need to replace the dead grass with seed or sod.


If your entire lawn is brown, it is possible that it is dormant. However, if there are only a few brown spots scattered throughout the lawn, those areas are most likely dead. It is a good idea to look for patterns that may indicate disease or pests. You can also have your soil tested. If the problem is caused by disease, fungus, or pests, you must first eliminate the source of the problem before repairing your lawn.

Another thing to keep in mind is lawns that contain more than one type of grass. This is a popular technique, particularly for cool-season grasses. If you have a mix of grasses that go dormant under different conditions, your lawn may appear patchy even when the grass is dormant. This is due to the fact that one type of grass may be dormant while another remains green and growing.


Irrigation is another way to tell if your grass is dead or dormant. After a few days of additional watering, a dormant lawn should turn yellow-green. However, if the weather is hot and dry, this may take longer.

Examine for Pests

If there are pests in your lawn near the brown spots, it is more likely that your lawn is dead and that you must remove the pests before reseeding or sodding. Grubs are usually easy to find beneath the soil’s surface around dead patches. A large number of birds on the lawn can also indicate the presence of grubs or other pests.


If the patches appear frequently where people or animals walk, this is most likely the cause. This is especially true if the dead spots are located in areas where animals urinate. Urine has the ability to kill grass and leave brown spots in your yard.

What Is the Cause of Dormant Grass?

Grass typically goes dormant in harsh conditions. Some grasses go dormant in the winter and others in the summer. It also depends on where you live. Warm, dry weather is more likely to be detrimental to cool-season grasses. Warm-season grasses typically go dormant when the temperature drops below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but this can vary depending on the grass type.


Most established, healthy lawns can withstand three or four weeks of dormancy caused by drought and remain alive. However, if the weather is expected to remain dry for an extended period of time, it is best to water the lawn. Water the lawn early in the morning so that direct sunlight does not evaporate as much of the moisture. Water your lawn just enough to keep it alive. This does not imply that the lawn will turn green until the drought ends.


Northern cool-season grasses can withstand colder temperatures better than warm-season grasses. However, if the weather is consistently cold enough, the grass will go dormant. If the temperature has recently changed dramatically, your grass may be dormant rather than dead.


Heat usually only affects cool-season grasses. Every summer, some grasses go dormant. This is particularly true in cooler-season grasas climates. Some warm-season grasses, however, will go dormant in extremely hot weather.

How to Bring a Dormant Lawn Back to Life

There are some things you can do to help your dormant lawn’s revival process. The main thing is that the temperature should be in the appropriate range for the type of grass. There’s nothing you can do about it, but there are some things you can do to help it along the way.

To begin, grass requires adequate water to thrive. Most grass can go dormant for 3 to 4 weeks without being watered. However, you must continue to water your lawn so that the soil is moist all the way down to the grass’s roots. This typically means that it should be moist for 5 inches below the surface in order to adequately water the roots. This will keep the lawn healthy while it is dormant, allowing it to quickly turn green and lush when the temperature returns to normal.

Furthermore, before the dormant season begins, always ensure that the grass is adequately watered. This improves survival chances and delays the negative effects of drought or other harsh conditions. It is always best to stick to a regular watering schedule. This reduces the likelihood that the grass will flood or dry out at any time.

Another option is to fertilize your lawn. You don’t want to fertilize the grass too much while it’s dormant. Some people mistakenly believe that fertilizer will help their dormant lawn come back to life. This is not true. However, if you fertilize during the growing season, the blades will grow faster and stay healthier. This will also keep it healthy, allowing it to emerge from dormancy sooner. Fertilizer should be applied at the start of the growing season.

Another important aspect of maintaining a healthy lawn is weed control. While the grass is dormant, some weeds thrive. In dry weather, some grasses go dormant, while weeds proliferate. Weeds will deplete the grass’s nutrients. They will also consume the water required by the grass to survive during dormancy. Apply herbicide or pull weeds when they are young. This way, your grass can stay healthy while dormant and recover faster when the weather is favorable.

Also, it may not appear necessary to mow the grass while it is dormant or semi-dormant. However, if you notice that it is growing, continue to care for it as you normally would. Because the grass will be healthier if it is kept at a consistent height, it will emerge from dormancy more quickly. The same is true for excessive lawn traffic. If there are too many people walking around the yard, the grass blades will be damaged. This increases the risk of severe dehydration.

If patches of grass die while the rest of the lawn is dormant, they must be replaced or reseeded. This will assist you in maintaining a lush lawn throughout the year.


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