What causes brown patches in lawns

What causes brown patches in lawns

3rd Apr 2024

Understanding and Treating Brown Patches in Lawns

Are you tired of seeing unsightly brown patches spoiling the lush green beauty of your lawn? You're not alone. These common lawn nuisances can be a real headache for homeowners and garden enthusiasts alike. But don't despair! Understanding the causes of brown patches and knowing how to treat them effectively can help restore your lawn to its former glory.

In this blog, we'll delve into the world of brown patches, exploring their common characteristics, what causes them, and most importantly, how to prevent and treat them. From environmental factors and pests to improper lawn care practices, we'll leave no stone unturned in our quest to help you achieve a healthier, greener lawn.

So, whether you're a seasoned gardener or a novice lawn owner, stick around. You're about to embark on a journey to a patch-free lawn. Let's get started!

Identifying Brown Patches in Lawns

Before diving into the specifics of brown patches in lawns, it's essential to understand what we're dealing with. Brown patches, as the name suggests, are areas of grass that have turned brown, disrupting the uniform green of a healthy lawn. Identifying these patches is the first step towards restoring your lawn to its former glory. This section will guide you through the process of identifying brown patches in your lawn, focusing on their characteristics and common locations. Armed with this knowledge, you'll be better equipped to tackle this common lawn issue.

Characteristics of Brown Patches

Brown patches in lawns are a common issue that many homeowners face. They are typically characterised by irregularly shaped areas of brown, dead grass. These patches can vary in size, from a few inches to several feet in diameter.

The grass within these patches often appears sunken or flattened. This is due to the weakening of the grass blades and their subsequent collapse.

Another characteristic of brown patches is a distinct border. The edges of these patches are often sharply defined, with a clear contrast between the healthy, green grass and the brown, dead grass.

In some cases, you may notice a 'smoke ring' around the edge of the patch. This is a thin, greyish ring that forms on the grass blades at the outer edge of the patch.

The grass within the patch may also show signs of rot. This is indicated by a slimy, dark brown or black appearance.

In severe cases, the grass may die off completely within the patch, leaving bare soil exposed.

It's also worth noting that brown patches can appear at any time of the year, but they are most common during hot, humid weather.

Remember, correctly identifying brown patches is the first step towards treating them effectively. So, keep an eye out for these characteristics in your lawn.

Common Locations for Brown Patches

Brown patches can appear anywhere in your lawn, but there are certain areas where they are more likely to occur. These are typically areas that are exposed to specific conditions that promote the growth of fungi or the presence of pests, both of which can cause brown patches.

One common location for brown patches is in areas of your lawn that are constantly damp. This could be due to poor drainage, overwatering, or a lack of sunlight. These conditions create a perfect environment for fungi to thrive, leading to the development of brown patches.

Another common location is in areas of your lawn that are heavily trafficked. Constant foot traffic can compact the soil, making it difficult for grass roots to penetrate and access necessary nutrients. This can lead to the grass becoming weak and susceptible to disease, resulting in brown patches.

Brown patches can also frequently appear in areas where pets often urinate. The high nitrogen content in pet urine can burn the grass, causing it to turn brown.

Furthermore, if you have a habit of leaving toys or other objects out on the lawn for extended periods, you may notice brown patches developing underneath these items. This is because the grass underneath is deprived of sunlight and can become weak and discoloured.

Lastly, areas of your lawn that are not properly maintained, such as those that are not regularly mowed or fertilised, are also prone to developing brown patches. This is because these conditions can lead to the build-up of thatch, which can suffocate the grass and cause it to turn brown.

What Causes Brown Patches in Lawns

Understanding the causes of brown patches in your lawns is the first step towards a healthier, greener yard. These unsightly spots can be a result of various factors, from environmental conditions to diseases and pests, or even improper lawn care practices. By identifying the root cause, you can implement effective solutions to restore your lawn's vibrant green hue. Let's delve deeper into what causes these brown patches and how you can prevent them.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors play a significant role in causing brown patches in lawns. One of the main culprits is drought. When lawns don't receive enough water, they start to dry out, leading to brown patches.

Another environmental factor is excessive heat. Lawns can get scorched under the intense summer sun, resulting in brown patches.

Also, poor soil conditions can lead to brown patches. If the soil lacks essential nutrients or has poor drainage, it can cause the grass to turn brown.

Furthermore, shade can also be an issue. Lawns that don't get enough sunlight can develop brown patches.

Lastly, lawns can also suffer from frost damage in the colder months, leading to brown patches.

Disease and Pests

Brown patches on your lawn can often be attributed to diseases and pests. The most common culprits are fungi and grubs. Fungi, such as brown patch and dollar spot, thrive in humid conditions and can cause irregular brown patches on your lawn. Grubs, on the other hand, eat grass roots, leading to brown patches that widen uniformly over time.

Dog urine can also cause brown patches due to the high nitrogen content. This typically results in a brown centre with a dark green outer ring.

Another pest that can cause brown patches is annual weeds. When these weeds die back, they can leave behind dead spots on your lawn.

It's important to identify the cause of the brown patches to effectively treat them. Fungal diseases can be treated with fungicides, while grubs can be controlled with specific insecticides. Dog urine burns can be fixed using specially designed lawn repair products.

Remember, the best way to prevent these pests and diseases is through proper lawn care practices. Regular mowing, watering, and fertilising can help keep your lawn healthy and resistant to pests and diseases.

Improper Lawn Care Practices

Improper lawn care practices can often lead to the development of brown patches in your lawn. One such practice is inadequate watering. Lawns need a consistent supply of water to maintain their lush green appearance. When they don't receive enough, they can start to dry out and turn brown.

Another common mistake is over-fertilising. While fertilisers are essential for promoting healthy growth, using too much can burn the grass and cause brown spots. It's crucial to follow the instructions when applying fertilisers to avoid this issue.

Similarly, mowing the lawn too short can stress the grass and lead to browning. 

Leaving objects on the lawn for extended periods can also cause brown patches. Items such as toys, garden furniture, or even a forgotten hose can block sunlight and kill the grass underneath, resulting in a brown spot.

Thatch build-up is another common cause of brown spots. Thatch is a layer of dead and decaying plant material that can prevent water and nutrients from reaching the roots of the grass. If left unchecked, it can lead to the development of brown patches.

Lastly, ignoring weed growth can lead to brown spots. Weeds compete with grass for resources, and when they die back, they can leave behind bare patches that turn brown.

Preventing Brown Patches in Lawns

Preventing brown patches in lawns is a proactive approach that saves you the hassle of dealing with unsightly spots on your green haven. By understanding the key factors that contribute to the health of your lawn, you can create an environment that is less susceptible to the common causes of brown patches. This section will delve into the importance of proper watering, appropriate feeding, and regular lawn maintenance in preventing brown patches from appearing in your lawn. Let's explore these preventative measures and how they contribute to a lush, healthy lawn.

Proper Watering Techniques

Watering your lawn correctly is crucial in preventing brown patches. The first step is to understand the watering needs of your grass type. Some grasses require more water than others.

Next, consider the time of day you water your lawn. Early morning is the best time. This allows the water to soak into the soil before the sun's heat can evaporate it.

Avoid watering in the evening. This can leave your lawn damp overnight, creating a perfect environment for fungus to grow.

The amount of water is also important. Overwatering can lead to waterlogged soil and root rot, both of which can cause brown patches.

Instead, aim for a deep, thorough watering. This encourages the roots to grow deeper, making your lawn more resilient.

Lastly, remember to adjust your watering schedule based on the weather. In hot, dry weather, your lawn may need more water. In rainy weather, you can cut back.

By following these proper watering techniques, you can help prevent brown patches in your lawn.

Appropriate Feeding

Fertilising plays a vital role in preventing brown patches in lawns. It's not just about applying any fertiliser, but the right one.

Nitrogen-rich fertilisers are often recommended for lawns. However, excessive nitrogen can lead to brown patches.

So, it's about striking a balance.

Remember, over-fertilisation can be as harmful as under-fertilisation.

It's also important to consider the timing of fertilisation.

Generally, it's best to leave this to So & Mo to worry about!

This is when the grass is actively growing and can utilise the nutrients effectively.

In conclusion, appropriate fertilising is key in preventing brown patches in lawns.

It involves using the right type and amount of feed, at the right time, and in the right way.

Remember, a healthy, well-fertilised lawn is more resistant to diseases and pests, including brown patches.

Regular Lawn Maintenance

Regular lawn maintenance is a key factor in preventing brown patches in your lawn. This involves a combination of activities that ensure the health and vitality of your grass.

Firstly, mowing your lawn regularly and at the correct height is crucial. This helps to promote a dense, healthy turf that is more resistant to diseases and pests. However, avoid cutting the grass too short as this can stress the grass and make it more susceptible to brown patches.

Secondly, aerating your lawn can help to alleviate soil compaction, allowing water, air, and nutrients to penetrate the soil more easily. This can be particularly beneficial in areas of high foot traffic where the soil tends to become compacted.

Thirdly, scarifying your lawn can help to remove the layer of dead and decaying plant material that can build up between the grass blades and the soil. This thatch layer can prevent water and nutrients from reaching the grass roots, leading to brown patches.

Finally, regular inspections of your lawn can help to identify any potential problems early on. Look out for signs of disease, pests or nutrient deficiencies and take appropriate action as soon as possible.

Remember, regular lawn maintenance is not just about keeping your lawn looking good, it's about creating a healthy environment for your grass to grow and thrive. This will help to prevent brown patches and keep your lawn looking lush and green.

Treating Brown Patches in Lawns

Treating brown patches in lawns can be a daunting task, but with the right approach, you can restore your lawn to its former glory. This section will delve into the various methods you can use to treat these patches, from choosing the right lawn repair mix to using turf builders and applying lawn feed and seed. With a little patience and the right products, you can bring your lawn back to life and keep it looking lush and green.

Applying Lawn Food and Seed

Applying lawn feed and seed is a crucial step in treating brown patches in your lawn. These products nourish the soil and encourage the growth of healthy grass.

Remember, applying lawn food and seed isn't a one-time task. Regular feeding and seeding are necessary to maintain a lush, green lawn.

Also, always follow the instructions on the product packaging for the best results. Over-application can do more harm than good (not possible with So & Mo, we send the right amount).

Common Mistakes in Treating Brown Patches

In our quest to maintain a lush, green lawn, we sometimes make mistakes that can exacerbate the problem of brown patches. These errors often stem from a lack of understanding of the underlying causes of the brown patches and how to properly treat them. Overwatering, incorrect use of lawn products, and ignoring signs of disease or pests are common missteps that can lead to further damage. In this section, we'll delve into these mistakes, shedding light on what to avoid when treating brown patches in your lawn.


Overwatering is a common mistake when treating brown patches on lawns. It's a natural instinct to water more when you see brown patches, but it can lead to more harm than good.

Excessive water creates a damp environment that encourages the growth of fungi. This can exacerbate the brown patch problem.

Moreover, overwatering can also lead to waterlogging. This suffocates the roots, hindering their ability to absorb nutrients.

It's crucial to understand that brown patches can be a symptom of both overwatering and underwatering.

The key is to maintain a balanced watering schedule. This can vary depending on the type of grass, soil, and climate.

Remember, it's not just about the quantity of water, but also the timing. Early morning is the best time to water your lawn.

Overwatering is a common mistake, but it's easily avoidable. With the right knowledge and care, you can maintain a healthy, green lawn.

Incorrect Use of Lawn Products

The misuse of lawn products is another common mistake when treating brown patches. It's not uncommon for homeowners to apply too much or too little of a product, or to use a product at the wrong time. For instance, applying a weed killer when the lawn is dormant can cause more harm than good. Similarly, using a granular lawn fertiliser in excess can lead to nutrient burn, causing brown patches to appear or existing ones to worsen.

Lastly, it's important to remember that not all brown patches are caused by the same issue. Using a fungicide to treat a lawn affected by pests, or vice versa, will not solve the problem and may even exacerbate it. Therefore, correctly identifying the cause of the brown patches before choosing a product is key. You can always send us photos for us to confirm the problem.

Ignoring Signs of Disease or Pests

Ignoring signs of disease or pests is a common mistake that can exacerbate the problem of brown patches in your lawn.

Pests such as grubs and diseases like fungus can cause significant damage to your lawn if left untreated. These issues often manifest as brown patches, and ignoring these signs can lead to a widespread problem.

Grubs, for instance, eat the roots of your grass, leading to brown patches that widen over time. Fungal diseases, on the other hand, can cause irregular patches of brown grass, especially in humid or rainy weather.

Ignoring these signs and failing to take appropriate action can result in a lawn that's more brown than green.

It's essential to regularly check your lawn for signs of disease or pests. If you notice brown patches, don't just assume it's due to lack of water or nutrients.

Investigate further to identify the cause. This could involve checking the roots for grubs or looking for signs of fungal disease.

Once you've identified the problem, you can take steps to treat it. This might involve using a specific lawn product, such as a fungicide or grub killer.

Remember, the key to a healthy, green lawn is vigilance. Don't ignore the signs of disease or pests.

Take action at the first sign of trouble, and you'll be well on your way to maintaining a lush, green lawn.

Achieving a Healthy, Green Lawn Free of Brown Patches

In conclusion, maintaining a healthy, green lawn free of brown patches is achievable with the right knowledge and practices. Understanding the causes of these unsightly patches and implementing effective prevention strategies can help keep your lawn vibrant and lush. If brown patches do occur, prompt treatment using recommended products like So & Mo ® Lawn Feed and So & Mo® Grass Seed can restore your lawn's health and beauty. Remember, overwatering and incorrect use of lawn products can exacerbate the problem, so it's crucial to follow the recommended guidelines. With patience and regular maintenance, you can enjoy a verdant, patch-free lawn that's the envy of the neighbourhood.

Ready to be proud of your garden?

Ensure your lawn never goes hungry with our personalised feeding plan. Delivered through you letterbox exactly when you need it.

  • Get Started
  • Performance Lawn Feed

    Ensure your lawn never goes hungry again

    • Liquid lawn feed for super easy, precise application
    • Year round performance with only six annual feeds
    • See visible results in just three days!