Fall Lawn Care Tips: What Causes Those Brown Spots?

By: dpyle Friday November 1, 2019 comments

With the beginnings of late autumn in Florida, the crisp, cool, sunshine-filled days are here. (Wondering how to maintain your lawn in cooler weather? (Find some special fall lawn care practices here.) This season is a welcome relief for Floridians, but it can bring brown-tinted grass to normally lush, green lawns. 

Although some dead grass is a normal part of fall, sometimes localized dead spots will crop up in the middle of otherwise healthy, beautiful turf. Brown patches aren’t just ugly - they damage the overall health of your lawn. Thankfully, there are many possible culprits that you can easily address in your lawn care!

Photo by Simon Matzinger from Pexels

Your Mower

Dull mower blades can damage grass. Prolonged damage will eventually cause the grass to die. Also, a mower set too low can cause scalping of the lawn. Keeping up with regular maintenance and checking the settings of your lawnmower is one of the easiest additions to your lawn care routine that can prevent dead spots in your grass! 

Chemicals and Gasoline

Common herbicides and pesticides are designed to treat problematic weeds and pests while not harming other growth. Fertilizers help plant life flourish. But, even these normally beneficial chemicals, if applied in too high a concentration, can cause damage to a yard. Fertilizers that are applied too heavily or spilled can cause what’s known as fertilizer burn. All of these chemicals, and others such as gasoline, can scorch your grass and cause brown spots. 

If chemicals are spilled or applied too heavily, applying water will help dilute them. Prevention is also the best medicine in these scenarios! Taking care to mix chemicals in the correct concentrations, and on a surface other than the grass, will help prevent damage. When applying fertilizer, ensure it is spread evenly. Of course, a professional lawn care company will ensure your lawn gets the proper treatment of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizer.

Animal Urine

Dog, cat, large bird, and other animal urine leaves a distinctive straw-like dead spot that is often encircled with a patch of darker green grass. The urea (the waste product in urine) kills the grass, while the higher nitrogen content is what causes the perimeter grass to overgrow. If you observe the animal urinating, you can water the spot as soon as possible to help prevent damage.

Inhospitable Conditions

Poor soil, buried debris (such as rocks), erosion, roots from larger plant-life, droughts, and seasonal dormancy make up the myriad of problematic conditions that can cause turf death. Thankfully, these issues can be easily treated with the proper lawn care techniques.

For compacted soil or nutrient-depleted soil, you can aerate it and incorporate organic matter. Remove any debris, including rocks, you find in the turf - during the summer, rocks can get so hot they actually burn the grassroots! To prevent erosion, consider planting ground cover if your yard is significantly sloped. Apply mulch around large plants such as trees to cover areas where grass doesn’t grow well.

Thatch

As dead grass decays, it can begin to pile up. If a pile becomes too thick, it will actually begin to choke out the healthy grass beneath. In order to keep your lawn healthy, you'll want to keep an eye on decaying grass and remove the buildup wherever you see it. Regular lawn maintenance from a lawn care company can take care of this issue for you!

Grubs and Turf-dwellers

Beetle larvae, also known as grubs, live in the soil and they love to munch on the roots of the grass above. While lawns can pretty well tolerate a low level of grub infestation, the larvae can become problematic if the population gets too high. The best way to diagnose grub activity is to find a dead patch and tug on it. If it comes up easily, that’s a strong sign of high grub concentration. Grub control products are available for purchase.

Chinch Bugs

These bugs are uniquely problematic. They suck the moisture from healthy grass and inject a poison that disrupts the flow of moisture in the grass blades, causing the grass to die. Chinch bugs are resistant to most pesticides, but products that target them are available.

Fungal Diseases

Fungal disease is most likely to develop on lawns in moist, warm conditions. If your lawn is subjected to a disease, regular well-rounded maintenance habits should remedy the situation without having to take extreme measures.

Incorrect Sprinkler Coverage

Sometimes, sprinkler coverage might miss a patch of your lawn. When the system is active, observe it to ensure that all areas are getting hit! If you’re unsure whether your irrigation system is working efficiently or needs adjustment, ask a lawn care company to take a look at it. They can help your system run smoothly so that it does the most good for your lawn.


Some of these grass ailments require special interventions, and we can help with that! But most of the time, regular lawn maintenance
will help prevent these issues from arising in the first place. Get your free lawn care quote from Pyles today!

About the Author: dpyle