front lawn

Asked January 17, 2014, 7:00 PM EST

can you tell me why my lawn looks so bad? The lawn was put in a year ago October and looked beautiful all last winter and spring and summer, it started looking bad this winter. Most of the yard looks good the dead looking grass is out by the street and side walk.

Clackamas County Oregon

8 Responses

It is a puzzle when one portion of the lawn looks so different than most of it. I'll troubleshoot this with you though it may mean some back-and-forth Q&A.
What is different about the damaged area? Did people or pets walk there when it was frozen? Perhaps it was declining earlier and once the winter came you notice the damage? Is this area sloped so that watering isn't soaking in the same during summer irrigation? How did you care for your new lawn (fertilizer and irrigation)? Is this area shaded? Perhaps the soil isn't the same here? Lawn health will be different where it grows over shallow pipes, buried drainage areas, and tree or shrub roots.
Send me a wider-angle photo of the area if possible, showing the whole lawn area and surroundings.
Plan to replant this area of the lawn in the spring, as healthy turf is the best defense against weeds and moss. This article and the publication it recommends will be helpful even if you are dealing with the lawn this spring: Renovate your lawn after summer dormancy,

Thank you for your response.The damaged lawn is on a slight slope.But as you can see from the pictures the parking strip is damaged as well. I had a lawn service install the lawn and maintained it until mid July. the same damaged spots would turn yellow in the summer months I had the yard service come out and they said it needed more fertilzer. watering my lawn I made sure I was getting 1inch of water I watered once every 3 days.You mentioned Frost I did rake leaves but i did not see any frost on the grass.

The photos are great, thanks. The way there are patches, and on the parking strip it is almost in lines, makes me wonder about uneven fertilizer application, or chemical application. Did it get fertilized more? Did those parts get more water, do you think? After you answer, I may need to refer this to another expert with more lawn experience, but this is sure worth finding out about.

the Parking strip got one inch of water like the front yard. I fertilize with a hand held rotary spreader.

Studying the photos of your lawn, there are ridges or lines in the parking strip. The lawn appears to be clumps or humps of grass. Even toward the back where it is more green the uneven pattern continues. Nowhere does it appear to be a smooth, thick, or strong turf. The turf may have failed to establish well, and the stressed high-sun and sloped areas look worse.
This OSU Extension publication, Maintaining a Healthy Lawn in Western Oregon,, gives correct water and fertilizer rates for lawns. You'll find it helpful as you renovate this lawn.
To continue the trouble-shooting: How was the lawn installed; seed or turf? What seed or turf grass blend was used? How was the soil prepared before the installation? What method of watering did you use; hand held, hose with sprinkler, or sprinkler system? What do you think may have caused the lines or ridges of live and dead grass in the parking strip?

the lawn was installed with Perennial rye grass turf.As far as the soil I was not home at the time it was installed, but I do know that it was tilled. Also I have a in ground sprinkler system. I believe the cause of the lines in the parking strip is from mowing and I used a thatch rake pulling toward the sidewalk.

I think that, for some reason, the turf did not establish well. April is generally a good time to dethatch and renovate your lawn. (Such a recent planting of turf might not have needed dethatching. Alternate the mowing pattern to reduce those marks.)
I don't expect you have insect pests, because the pattern of unevenness is the same throughout. I recommend you follow the steps for renovation this spring and build a smooth, even turf. (Publications listed in prior responses.)
If you'd like to take the diagnosis further, consider taking a sample to the Clackamas County Extension Master Gardeners Volunteer clinic. Bring a 4" X 4" patch, at least 2 inches deep. If possible, half green grass, half brown. If it's not possible to bring in a sample, dig the above described patch, then take close-up images. The photos should show the underside of the 2-inch chunk, as well as a side view (a profile).
Clackamas County Extension Office contact information:
Master Gardener Phone: 503–655–8631 Email:
Office Address: 200 Warner–Milne Rd. Oregon City, OR 97045 MG Volunteer
Phone and Walk-In Hours: Monday – Friday 9 AM – 12 Noon and 1 PM – 4 PM.

Thank you for your help I will see what happens this spring.