What’s the Difference Between Dead and Dormant Grass?

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In the summertime, lawns are often more reminiscent of long stalks of wheat than green, luscious grass. Thanks to blistering heat and unpredictable rainfall patterns, even the best care is sometimes not enough to prevent a lawn from turning yellow and dry. However, simply because your grass is brown doesn’t necessarily mean it’s dead.

Here is some information about the difference between dead and dormant grass and what this should mean for your lawn care plans.

Appearance of Dead and Dormant Grass

The main reason why homeowners struggle to distinguish between dead and dormant grass is the similar appearance, according to SFGate. Both types of grass are brown and dry. If you step on dead or dormant grass, it will likely sound and feel crunchy. Since dead and dormant grass are nearly identical in appearance, you should make sure your lawn is actually dead before you spend the money to reseed it. While dormant grass may seem dead now, it will become green again with time and care.

Many homeowners waste large amounts of time and resources because they reseed their lawn each time it becomes dormant, especially since some species of grass become dormant almost every year.

Distinguishing Between Dead and Dormant Grass

Since appearance isn’t enough to distinguish between dead and dormant grass, homeowners must resort to other methods. One way homeowners can identify dormant grass from dead grass is watering the lawn. Eventually, dormant grass will turn at least partly green again, while dead grass will remain yellow and lifeless. If your grass is green with patches of brown, these patches are likely dead and not dormant.

It can take months for dormant grass to become green once more in the summer. The process of distinguishing between dead and dormant grass often takes even longer in the winter. If your grass appears dead in the winter, you may have to wait until spring to confirm that.

How to Solve the Issue of Dormancy

Some types of grass go dormant every summer or winter. Obviously, this is a problem for homeowners who hate having a dead-looking lawn. A solution to this issue is planting both cool-season and warm-season grass. The former is dormant in the summer, while the latter is dormant in the winter. Having both types of grass will keep your lawn fairly green year-round.

Caring for a Sleeping Lawn

In many ways, a dormant lawn is more vulnerable to the environment than a green and vibrant lawn. According to The Lawn Institute, homeowners should allow dormant grass to grow to a slightly greater height before mowing. Mowing less often minimizes stress. Water the lawn as often as before to keep the grass alive. However, don’t fertilize the lawn as much, because the grass will not use most of the nutrients and minerals.

If you’re not sure whether your grass is dead or dormant, contact a professional. Once this is identified, you can take the rights steps to ensure the health of your lawn because lawn care is essential.