Brown Grass Despite Adequate Watering? Common Reasons & How to Fix It

By: Ken Wilson

There must be something wrong if your once beautiful, lush green lawn suddenly turned into a vast expanse of brown turfgrass even with proper irrigation. Grass that turns brown despite proper watering is brought about by several different reasons: bug infestation, nutrient deficiency, possible fungal disease, and issues with the soil’s pH levels.

Let’s discuss the most common reasons your lawn grass turns brown despite adequate watering and what you can do to restore your turf to its former green glory.

6 Common Reasons of Brown Grass Despite Watering

Below are the six common causes of blown grass despite watering:

1. Lawn Disease

Several lawn diseases and fungi may be the culprit behind why your lawn is turning brown. This is increasingly common when your watering is in full spring, and there are high humidity levels. If the fungus is everywhere and it isn’t removed, what seems like small patches of brown grass may turn into vast islands of dead turf.

What to do

Use a fungicide that’s specifically designed for your brown patch problems. Don’t worry. After eliminating the fungus, the grass will most likely grow to be lush green once more. The regrowth usually takes around 28 to 30 days on average.

Keep the diseased lawn clippings in a bag when mowing to prevent spreading. Always follow good lawn care practices, such as adequate watering in the early morning, regular mowing, thatch control, etc. This will help you protect your lawn from being susceptible to lawn diseases.

Other types of common lawn disease:

  • Red Thread
  • Rust Diseases
  • Snow Mold
  • Summer Patch

Prevent Fungus with Aeration

Another thing to prevent fungus from taking over our lawn is to have it adequately aerated in the fall.

After some time, the soil and the underlying thatch lawn may be compacted, affecting the turf's ability to thrive. Compacted soil struggles to breathe correctly, so the grassroots cannot absorb nutrients or water from the earth. As a result, it eventually dies.

2. Lawn Pests

Lawn pests can be invisible to the naked eye. But, these intruders may leave behind extensive damage to your beautiful, green lawn. Common pests such as chinch bugs and white grubs may chew on the grass blades and munch on the tender roots. Some even drag grasses into their burrows as a food resource.

Here are two of the most common lawn pests that may be turning your lawn brown:

  • White Grubs: Your green grass may turn brown (despite frequent watering) due to an infestation by white grubs. A few of them won't be enough to do the damage, but a full-blown infestation will destroy the picturesque lawn you've been working so hard to achieve. Grubs usually begin to make an appearance around August. These pests hide in the topsoil, munching away on your turf and destroying the grassroots. Accordingly, your grass will be unable to absorb all the necessary nutrients it needs to remain lush green. To deal with this, you can use commercial insecticides for grub control. It grubs are a persistent problem in your neighborhood; there are controlled-release mixtures to consider. Controlling a grub infestation as soon as possible gives your lawn a better chance to recover ASAP and grow healthy.
  • Chinch Bugs: Another common lawn pest is chinch bugs, which may be why your grass is turning brown. These pests feed on the turf by sucking out the essential plant juices and leaving behind salivary fluids in the leaves. This blocks out water and food, eventually killing the grass. Most commonly, chinch bugs thrive in hot, dry, sunny environments. Your lawn will initially look wilted before it turns yellow and then brown. Even with regular watering, you'll find these dead patches will only continue to spread.

What to do

Apply early insecticide sprays to decrease the spring population of chinch bugs, around April or early May. Adult chinch bugs usually have finished their spring migration, with the nymphs starting to become active.

A slightly damaged lawn will recover in no time given light fertilization and regular watering. Meanwhile, heavily infested turf will need to be reseeded, especially if it has lost a lot of healthy grass.

3. Pet Waste

If you have furry friends at home, prevent them from frequently urinating on your lawn. Canine and feline urine has acid and salts, which may kill the turf. This may also leave behind dead, brown patches that cannot revive by themselves. Instead:

  • Walk your dog to the nearby park or field instead of letting him run around the lawn
  • Train your pets to urinate in a specific spot in the yard. Do this for two to three weeks to establish a routine

What to do

If your dog urinated on the lawn regardless, have the spot heavily watered to dilute the urine immediately and minimize potential damage.

You can try to revive the dead grass by covering it with a layer of ground limestone (2 to 5 pounds per 100 square feet), which helps restore the soil's pH balance. Leave the limestone for the week before adding a topsoil cover and planting the new grass seeds.

4. Weed Activity

Weeds and tree roots siphon essential nutrients from fertilizer and water intended for grass, leaving you with a brown, lifeless lawn.

Dig up the weeds or spray the lawn with a specific herbicide that eliminates the weeds but doesn't harm the grass. Sprinkle a pre-emergent herbicide over the turf after weed eradication to prevent new weed seeds from growing.

5. Acidity

Because your grass prefers a pH range of 6 to 7, a nearby evergreen tree or new leaf mulch has likely made the soil excessively acidic. These plants are frequently acidic, and their presence alters the pH of the soil over time.

To be sure, get your soil tested. You'll need to make certain adjustments if the pH level is less than 6. If you roll your grass sod to the side, you can use lime to raise the pH of the soil. The grass should recover and start fresh green growth after being treated.

Apply sulfur to your lawn as a short-term treatment for reducing soil pH and restoring grass color if the pH is higher than 7.2. The more sulfur is required, the higher the initial soil pH and the "loamier" or clay-based the soil becomes. To achieve an ideal soil pH of 6.5, sandy soil with a starting pH of 7.5 requires just 10 to 15 pounds of sulfur per 1,000 square feet, but a loamy soil with the same pH needs 20 to 25 pounds of sulfur per 1,000 square feet.

Reduce the frequency with which you water your lawn as a long-term remedy, as over-watering lowers iron uptake in the grass and can lead to yellowing or browning. (Related: Visible Yellow Spots on Your Lawn: Possible Causes and Quick Solutions)

6. Weather And Mowing

Drought stress, often known as summer lawn stress, is one of the most prevalent causes of your green grass becoming brown. Your grass may be just reacting to the heat. When the temperature cools down, the grass may green up.

Also, be cautious when mowing. Check the sharpness of your mower blades. Each session, trim one-third of the grass blades' height. If you do this regularly, your grass will be able to tolerate the stress that creates brown patches.


I'm sure we all desire a picturesque green and healthy lawn. Who doesn't? But if you're currently dealing with dead, brown turf, regardless of all your hard work following proper lawn care practices– there must be some underlying issue that needs your attention.

We've discussed some of the most common ones above, so hopefully, your journey to revive your lush, green lawn goes successful soon!

About the author 

Ken Wilson

Long time career in the home services industry from remodeling to patio construction. Currently residing to in SWFL and active contributor to multiple home & garden publications.