lawn covered in brown, dying grass

Help! Is My Grass Dead or Just Dormant?

If you're a Missouri homeowner, you know that the winter and summer can be tough on your grass. But how can you tell if your grass is dead or just dormant? And what can you do to keep dormant grass from becoming dead or damaged? Keep reading to find out!

What Is Dormant Grass?

Dormant grass has stopped growing due to cold or hot weather, but it’s not actually dead. Grass goes dormant in the winter or summer to conserve energy, but it will start growing again during its preferred growing season.

Did you know that there are cool season grasses and warm season grasses? These types of grasses have different growing seasons and dormant seasons:

  • If your lawn is covered with cool season grass, you can expect your lawn to go dormant during the hottest months of the year.
  • If your lawn is covered with warm season grass, expect it to go dormant during the coldest months.

This is why you might have a brown lawn during winter while your neighbor's lawn is still green.

Why Does Grass Go Dormant?

Grass goes dormant because the temperatures are too hot or too cold to grow. Grass enters a resting state to preserve its energy and nutrients, protecting itself. It’s a survival tactic that helps it get through the hottest and coldest months of the year.

How Can I Tell If My Grass Is Dormant or Dead?

There are multiple methods to determine if you need to grow a new lawn or if you simply need to tend to a dormant one. Below are the simplest ways to tell if your grass is dead or dormant:

  • Is the grass brown in patches or uniformly brown? The easiest way to tell whether your grass is dormant or dead is to look at how it's browning. Dormant grass typically browns uniformly. Conversely, dead grass usually browns in patches, resulting from problems like pests, diseases, dog urine, or inadequate water and sunlight exposure.
  • What happens when you perform the "tug test?" The "tug test" is simple. Grab a section of your grass. If the grass comes up easily, it's likely dead. If the grass resists coming out, your grass is most likely dormant and will start growing again when the temperatures become more favorable.
  • What is the grass's texture? Dormant grass may feel a bit stiff and crispy, but dead grass will feel brittle, crumbly, or even slimy.

Tips to Avoid Damaging Dormant Grass

If your grass is just dormant, not dead, there are a few important tips to keep in mind when tending to it:

  • Avoid mowing the grass during its dormant season, as this can damage the turf.
  • Keep watering your lawn; otherwise, your dormant grass will become dead grass.
  • Be mindful of fertilizer application during a grass's dormant season. Too much fertilizer can damage the grass and delay its recovery.
  • Check for pests and diseases, as these can kill dormant grass.
  • Avoid a lot of foot traffic over your grass to avoid damaging it.
  • Carefully rake your lawn to remove dead grass and debris that could smother the grass.

By following these tips, you can ensure your dormant grass survives the winter or summer and returns in the spring or fall ready for a healthy season of growth. You can keep your Missouri lawn looking its best with proper care and attention! Good luck and happy gardening!

Lawn Care in Wildwood, MO

TurfOne Landscape Management is the answer to all your lawn care needs. Our Wildwood team is dedicated to providing top-notch lawn care services to keep your lawn looking healthy and beautiful year-round. Contact us today at (314) 310-7357!