What Does it Mean When Grass is Dormant?


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What Does it Mean When Grass is Dormant?

August 16, 2022     

Like all of us, grass and plants struggle with the heat, especially when there’s a lack of water. The first half of this year has officially been the driest since 1976; receiving only a fifth of the rainfall we’d usually expect. Which essentially means we’ve missed out on 2-3 months worth of rain. A visible reaction to this is that our lawns start to look more like the Sahara Desert rather than the rainforest green we’d prefer. So why has our grass changed colour?

Let’s go back to basics…

Grass turns brown when its roots aren’t absorbing important nutrients. This tends to occur during the winter months and is a natural part of grass’ lifecycle, allowing it to lay dormant during this period (a bit like hibernation). But it can also happen during extreme weather conditions, such as a heatwave.

Like the leaves in plants, grass blades have tiny little holes called stomata that are an essential part of the photosynthesis process. When there’s limited water in the ground, the grass closes the stomata stopping water escaping from the blade and returning it back to the root. Once the soil rehydrates the grass will awaken, restart its cycle and return to its natural colouring.

How to rescue brown grass

The important thing to remember is that your grass is dormant, not dead. It’ll just need a little TLC to wake up and there are a few things you can do to help:

  • Avoid mowing or if you do, increase your mow height. A grass blade’s height correlates to the depth of its root, and it’ll need a deep root to extract more nutrients from the earth.
  • Use a wetting agent. Extremely dry ground will struggle to penetrate any water, so by applying a wetting agent to the turf it’ll help move water from the surface and absorb further into the soil.
  • Only irrigate (watering) if you plan on doing it regularly throughout the summer. You can cause further stress to your turf if you only water it sporadically.
  • Remove any thatch (dead material such as weeds or leaves) from your lawn to let light in and encourage new growth.

What if I’ve laid down new turf?

New turf can take around 6 weeks to build strong roots. If you have just rolled out a luscious new lawn then it might still be establishing its root system. It’s important to not let your fresh lawn go dormant, so ensure you’re removing any thatch, don’t mow it too short and regularly irrigate it.

When will brown grass go back to green?

With regular irrigation this can take about 3-4 weeks. But like we said, only start irrigation if you plan to be consistent throughout the summer. You also need to bear in the mind the current water levels and monitor the amount of water being used or wasted.

Is your turf dormant or dead?

Another reason your grass might not look as fresh as usual is because the grass has died. This can be caused by several factors but here are a few tests you can try to check whether your turf is dead or dormant:

  • Tug it — if there’s resistance then it’s dormant. If if comes away easily, then the roots have died.
  • Monitor it — if brown patches are in direct sunlight, the roots may be dormant from dehydration. If they’re in shaded or wet areas, they may be dead.
  • Water it – dormant grass will turn green with regular irrigation, whereas dead grass will remain brown.

Your local turf supplier

If your grass has died or the dry summer has inspired you to refresh your lawn, then look no further! We have a range of high quality turf to suit any style of garden. Or if you’re looking for something with a little less maintenance, our artificial turf may be the best option. If you’re unsure, ready to order or need further advice then please get in touch, our friendly team are ready to help.

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