How to Spot and Treat Brown Spots in Your Lawn

Everyone dreams of a beautiful, vibrant green lawn, so when you notice brown spots in your grass, it can be frustrating. Knowing how to eliminate brown spots before they worsen and take over your yard is essential to maintaining a healthy lawn. If you notice small brown patches developing in your yard, read our guide for common causes and simple treatments to restore your lawn.

Common Causes of Brown Spots

There are numerous reasons you may be noticing brown spots on your lawn, and the first step to treating them is understanding what may be causing them to develop. 

Here are some of the most common reasons your lawn may be developing brown spots. 

Insects and Grubs

Insects and grubs in the grass may be why you are noticing brown spots on your lawn. While certain bugs and insects are an essential part of maintaining healthy soil and grass, others, such as grubs, can cause problems. Grubs are a type of beetle larvae that can cause serious root damage. They eat the roots of the grass, causing the grass to turn brown and eventually die. Grub damage may also cause the grass to roll up like a carpet or take on a spongy texture.

If your grass is experiencing grub damage, you will likely see a uniform brown color in large spots or swatches. Once you’ve effectively treated your lawn for grubs, you may want to replant the dead patches. Spring or fall provide the best conditions for helping your new grass grow. 

Fungal Damage

Various grass diseases can cause brown spots throughout your lawn as well. One of the most common causes includes fungal damage, which can cause parts of the lawn to become brown or yellow. The fungus attacks the sheaths of grass throughout a lawn during cooler periods, but it is much more severe during humid or hot weather.

Fungal damage, also known as brown patch disease, is often worse during mid-to-late summer when the weather is at its hottest. Some of the most common things that worsen a fungal outbreak in your lawn include high humidity, excess heat, moisture, nitrogen, thatching, soil compaction and inadequate drainage. 

Foot Traffic

Foot traffic is common on the grass, especially if pets and children frequently play or roam around the lawn. While enjoying your lawn is part of its purpose, repeated foot traffic may cause the grass to become brown or sustain damage. If you and your family regularly walk the same path across your lawn, you will likely start to see these effects.

Lawn chairs, decorations or even forgotten toys may also contribute to lawn discoloration. Any item covering a section of grass will block the sun from the lawn, resulting in the grass dying and browning. Forgetting a toy or item on the lawn for even a few days can result in brown spots. You may want to consider regularly moving umbrellas and lawn furniture to prevent the grass from dying beneath it.


Thatch is an accumulation of dead or decomposing organic material between grass and its root system. While a small amount of thatch can be beneficial, anything over half an inch thick can strangle the grass, reducing the flow of water, air and nutrients. Without these vital elements, the grass is much more likely to experience pest infestations and diseases.

You can dethatch your lawn and ensure proper aeration to reduce the likelihood of brown spots. One simple way to dethatch your lawn is to use a rake and break up the organic material. 

How to Treat Brown Spots

While brown spots in your lawn can be frustrating, there are many tips and tricks you can use to restore your lawn’s uniform green color. These are some of the most important treatments for brown spots in your lawn.


Overwatering your lawn can increase the risk of developing fungi or brown patches. Brown patches from watering often occur when the grass is wet, and the soil is dry. If you water your lawn, you should only water it about one to two times a week or every three to four days. It is also suggested to water your yard in the early morning before the afternoon’s stronger sun.

If you water your grass during a hot afternoon, the moisture may become trapped at the surface of the grass and not penetrate the soil. You should also avoid watering your lawn in the evening because it will remain wet at night, which can lead to fungal development. 

Mowing Techniques

Your mowing techniques may also contribute to brown spots in your lawn, especially if your mower bladers are dull. Dull blades tend to tear up and damage the grass rather than cleanly and evenly cutting it. Shredded grass often dies, causing brown patches. To improve brown spots in your lawn, you can sharpen your mower blades every fall and spring or purchase new blades.

Another area of concern when mowing is cutting the grass too short, or scalping, which can occur even if you have sharp mower blades. Even though grass grows quickly during the spring and summer, cutting your grass too short can lead to brown spots developing. When grass is too short, it can’t effectvively absorb the necessary nutrients and water. 

When mowing your lawn, you want to make sure your blades are raised enough that you only cut a third of the grass blade off at a time. 


lawn aerator can help lower humidity and reduce the likelihood of brown patches from developing. Aeration using a spike aerator or liquid aeration device can remove small cores of soil from the grown or perforate the soil with small holes, allowing for proper water drainage and nutrient flow. In many cases, aeration is often performed with dethatching to improve the health of a lawn.


Fertilizing your lawn is essential for keeping it healthy. It is also vital you choose the right brand and blend of fertilizer for your yard. A fertilizer that introduces too much nitrogen into your yard can cause a bloom of fungi, leading to brown spots. You should also avoid fertilizing your lawn during humid or hot weather. Most lawns only require one or two light fertilizations each year to remain healthy.

Lawn Care Services From OrganicLawns

At OrganicLawns, we are a family-owned and operated Maryland business, and we pride ourselves on helping our customers get the lawn of their dreams. In addition to lawn packages, we offer various lawn care services, including starter fertilizationweed control, and annual soil testing. We are also proud to provide slice seedingnutsedge control and more.

If you are interested in having your lawn treated organically, contact us for a free lawn estimate or call 410-536-5800.

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