Brown Spots & Patches: What it Could Mean for Your Spring Lawn

Submitted on March 7, 2019

Spring is here – is your lawn still brown? If so, this is a common concern among homeowners as the last remnants of winter snow begins to melt away. There may be a few different culprits behind this common discolouration, and a proper diagnosis of the problem is important for determining the appropriate treatment and course of action. In order to get to the bottom of it, you will have to do some good old fashion investigating! Here are the most common reasons for a brown spring lawn:

Possible Cause #1: Lawn Disease

One of the most common lawn diseases seen in the spring is pink and gray snow mould. Snow mould is a fungal disease that usually presents with patches of light yellow or grayish-brown turf. After the snow melts away, matted down areas of grass often have a web-like fungal growth coating the grass blades. These areas should be raked and fertilized, and if the spots do not recover, reseeding may be necessary.

Possible Cause #2: Winter Kill

The harsh weather conditions experienced over the winter can sometimes result in winter kill. If you notice that areas of your lawn arean’t greening up with the rest of your turf, it is possible these spots were damaged over the course of the winter months. Cultural practices and lawn history should be looked at when determining if this is the cause. If your lawn has an excessive thatch layer or history of insect infestation and disease, then it may be more susceptible to winter kill. If these spots don’t respond to watering and fertilization, you will need to reseed the affected areas.

Possible Cause #3: Pet Damage

Housepets, especially dogs, tend to be a common culprit for causing yellow and brown patches in your lawn. When you let your pets out into the yard, take note of if they are using the same spots to go to the bathroom. If you notice a correlation between those spots and the patches in your spring lawn, that is likely the cause. These spots tend to appear straw-like and are often surrounded by a ring of green, otherwise healthy grass.

Possible Cause #4: Dormancy

Over the winter, our lawns transition into a dormant state as a way to preserve valuable resources. The plant uses all of its nutrients to keep its crown alive, which causes your grass blades to turn yellow or brown. When ideal growing conditions return, dormant lawns should quickly recover and begin to green up. If your lawn doesn’t quickly recover, this could be a sign of potential damage or disease.

Possible Cause #5: Salt & Snow Removal Damage

If you notice that the brown patches on your lawn border your driveway and sidewalk, this a sign of salt and snow removal damage. While shovelling or plowing the driveway, homeowners sometimes accidentally damage the edges of their turf. Salt used to melt ice can also be a culprit. Typically heavily watering these areas can help dilute heavy concentrations to a less toxic level.


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