Receding Lawn? How to Get Ahead of a Dying Lawn to Bring It Back

Posted October 13, 2021 by in Lifestyle

Lawns are generally fairly forgiving. It takes a lot for you to kill it off by accident or for it to suddenly die on you. However, there are conditions in which it can start looking haggard and recede away. It can look patchy or just start disappearing in some areas.

It’s a shame to look out over your yard and rather than see a lush and green expanse you see a patchy and brown lawn that needs a lot of TLC. Think of the receding lawn as screaming out for help. It is letting you know that there is a problem. 

There are a number of reasons that this is happening but it isn’t obvious right away what the issue is. In this article, we will go over several scenarios that could be causing your lawn to have dead spots and recede:

Why Is the Lawn Patchy?

Before you call in a turf company to install an artificial lawn, it pays to get to the root of the problem so it can be reversed.

The response that is going to work best is one that takes into consideration what caused the problem. Bringing those dead spots back to life doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all response.

You have to go through a series of possibilities and use the process of elimination to zero in on the one most likely to be responsible so you can then go through some remedies. 

Dog Urine

Many dog owners are aware of how dogs like to pick a specific area of the lawn where they like to do their business. There is a telltale sign that they are damaging the lawn by some spots of yellow grass. The urine, over time, starts discoloring the grass which is causing the spots. If it were a one-time thing it wouldn’t be a problem: it’s the fact that they use the same spots all the time. 

The remedy for this is not very complicated. It is simply a matter of training the pooch to find another area to go to and not use the same spot over and over. Once there are more areas for him to go then the grass will start rebounding on its own. If it doesn’t grow back and start turning green again, it could be something other than dog urine. If you pull on the grass and it comes up easily then there is likely a fungus killing the grass. 

Getting the dog to drink more will also help save the grass as the urine will be diluted and not so harsh on the grass itself. Of course, if the problem persists it’s time to put in some dog urine-resistant grass


Grubs are immature Japanese beetles that have been hatched from the eggs laid in the soil under the grass. When you have a lot of them in your yard, they eat the root mass of the grass and kills it. Since they are generally clustered in groups across the yard, they create dead zones of patchy grass.

If you see many areas with dead grass then it is likely from grubs. You’ll also have confirmation if you see a lot of crows in the yard pecking into the grass and leaving holes all over the place. They are eating the grubs, which is good. The yard gets even more damage from the crows, which is bad. The true test is to peel up the dead and dying grass and inspect for grubs.

At this point, there will need to be a treatment performed to get rid of the grubs. The best time to start treatment is in the late summer or early fall when they are close to the surface of the soil. There are a number of insecticides to choose from to kill grubs, but a natural one is best. If you have pets or children that play on the grass then it is very important to not use a harsh chemical.

Neem oil is a good product that is all-natural and works well as an insecticide. Add some to the water and spray the lawn with it. It will also prevent the beetles from coming back and laying eggs when it is applied in the spring. 

Too Much Fertilizer

Many people growing lawns for the first time get a bit overzealous with their desire for the lushest and greenest lawn. This results in over-fertilizing the grass. Which ends up burning up the roots and causing the grass to die in patches. It will look like streaks of yellow or brown grass. 

It happens very quickly so when too much fertilizer is added it is obvious right away. As soon as a couple of days after the fertilizer is added the damage is done. It will start looking patchy and bald spots will develop. 

It now requires saturation of water to dilute the fertilizer and allow it to leech away from the roots of the grass. Using sprinklers, keep the water flowing for a while until you have about an inch of water on the surface of the lawn. Do this for about a week to allow the water to pull the fertilizer away from the grass. 

After three to four days after the last of the water has dried up, rake the dead grass away and dispose of it. Don’t put it in a compost pile as it will have excess nitrogen in it that will throw off the balance of the pile causing it to rot.

You may need to dig up some of the soil where it died and then add some topsoil or compost to the hole to fill it in. Then reseed the area and water it thoroughly. 

It isn’t as easy to maintain the perfect lawn as it would seem. It takes a keen eye to understand what is happening and picking up on problems as they happen. Once you have been doing things a while it will be obvious what your lawn needs.