Grass Died over Winter?

Asked April 28, 2019, 12:34 PM EDT


I’m trying to figure out what happened to my lawn over winter and how to revive it. I attached pictures of how the lawn appeared after the snow melted and spring emerged. There are lots of dead spots and I can’t figure out why.

I had the lawn nuked and reseeded in the fall of 2016 and the seed came in great. Last year, parts of the lawn looked better than others (darker green vs lighter green), but the lawn was still full. However this spring, those areas that may have been lighter green last summer appear to have died. I follow(ed) all the good practices of frequent and tall mowing, infrequent and deep watering, and proper fertilization/grub control/pre-emergent/weed controls.

Can you take a look at the pictures and have any idea what appears to be the problem with those dead areas? Thanks,

- Matthew Race

Wayne County Michigan

1 Response

Perplexing yes, but something is lacking. No we cannot diagnose from pictures as there are a number of potential possible reasons. Lack of color usually means lack of nutrients or fertilization. If you are as you say fertilizing properly, the end of August early/September and the winterizer in late fall (Halloween), it should be all that is necessary for spring greenup. Soil compaction comes to mind, something that happens to most lawns over time. The fix for that as well as a recommended procedure at other times is a core aeration that pulls out 3 inch plugs, best done in September/October. This relieves the compaction that stifles healthy turfgrass growth and allows nutrients a path to the root zone. Some people do this every year or two, something that never hurts but can be highly beneficial. Common also at this time of year is lingering effects from snow mold, of which there are two types, one sometimes a turf killer. If mowing high, it doesn't look like it from this vantage point, the single best thing you can do for healthy turfgrass. Then there are a range of diseases that can only be diagnosed in the lab. You could send a sample to Diagnostic Services for a small fee. There are also a host of diseases that you can look at at this site: Click on the Browse Diseases tab. What I am seeing is browning but the patches are not dead yet and could still green up with better weather conditions.

Then a soil test might also prove valuable to learn your soil makeup and nutrient
levels. There is no other way to know what is in your soil without a soil test.

Water is another potential troublemaker if your lawn is not getting the minimum of 1 inch per week that it needs. Michigan's climate will not support a season long lawn, meaning supplemental watering will be necessary. How you do this makes a difference too for timely uniform watering. In ground irrigation gives you complete control while dragging garden hoses around for a large lawn does not work well.

Finally here is another link to browse a selection of potential possibilities:

Best idea might be to involve a professional lawn care business that can do a site
evaluation first hand and work with you on the numerous possibilities.

Good luck