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The Dutchess DIYer

Learn how to properly care for your property, discover tell-all signs of maintenance needs

and how to become a better homeowner.

  • Dutchess Lawns

Landscaping: Why Grass Has Brown Spots

Grass can have brown spots due to things that people do to the grass. The lawn can have brown spots due to things that people have no real control over. Some of the things that people do to their lawn to help it look green can cause brown spots.

What you can control:


Cutting grass too low or unevenly will produce brown spots. The green leaf of the grass collects the light that produces the food for the rest of the plant. Cutting the grass too short will cut off the food supply for a time and make brown spots.

Scalping the grass will produce the same results.

Mower Blades

Dull mower blades tear the blades of the grass. The grass can die eventually. Sharp blades cut cleanly and allow the grass to grow back at a normal rate. Dull blades also produce an uneven look to the lawn.

Fertilizers and Weed Control

The overuse of fertilizer and weed control can produce brown spots in the lawn. The grass gets killed. The usual cause is the improper use of the spreader to distribute the fertilizer or weed killer. The wrong setting on the spreader can cause the use of too much of the chemicals.

Machine chemicals

Gas and oil that leak from mowers and other lawn equipment can kill grass and cause brown spots in the lawn.


Pet urine will kill some grasses. Allowing the cat or dog to use the yard as the bathroom can produce brown spots.

What you cannot control (or what you can control with a lot more elbow grease):


Grass needs water to thrive. Extended periods of no rain or low rain will produce large areas of brown spots and can lead to grass death.

Dead things

Tree stumps that you do not know are in your yard and burrowing animals like moles can die under the ground and cause large brown spots in the grass as they decay. Buried lumber can do the same thing as it deteriorates.

Bad Soil

The yard may have patches of bad soil or even concrete left by contractors. This will make grass wither and produce brown spots.

Plants and trees

Plants and trees fight for limited water supplies with grass and win due to the larger root system that plants and trees have. The grass around plants and trees will have brown spots.

Insects and diseases

The insect and disease problems that cause brown spots are usually climate related. A common problem is the build up of thatch. Thatch is the grass trimming that gets cut off. Too much thatch chokes the living grass off from water and nutrients.

Fungi can thrive when the grass is exposed to seasons of constant moisture. The appearance of a slight pink hazy mist on the grass that is visible in the early morning sun is an indication that there is a fungus problem.

The good news is that all of the problems that cause brown spots in grass can be treated and cured so the entire yard looks green and stays green.

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