Doing everything you can think of but still struggling with browning or dying lawn turf? There’s more to proper lawn care and watering than might meet the eye, so we’re here to share more tools of the turf trade.

Do these images of dying lawns look painfully familiar to you?

Dying lawn images

Dying lawn images

Not only do these lawns look lacklustre, but they’re all suffering from a lack of water reaching the turf – and this can happen even with regular watering.

heat-stressed turf

Above, you can see a collage of heat-stressed turf images for each variety. These images can help you know what to look for as you evaluate your own dying lawn. But you don’t have to wait until the turf is crunchy underfoot to change your watering ways.

We recommend familiarising yourself with the signs of heat as early intervention can reverse damage to your lawn or new turf. Let’s take a closer look together.

Watering woes that lead to lawn failure

Lack of water reaching the roots of your lawn is the most common reason for lawn failure that we see. This doesn’t mean we’re saying you aren’t watering or caring for your lawn, but there are various ways the precious water you apply to your lawn can fail to reach the intended target – the roots of your lawn.

Fortunately, once you start seeing the signs of heat-stressed turf, you can take action to stave off complete turf damage. Below are the most likely reasons for your lawn issues based on our years of experience to help you solve your lawn problem.

Watering woes

1. Check your sprinkler coverage with catch cups and correct where required.

Each watering should deliver approximately 10mm into each cup.
Ideally test at the same time of day (in the same weather conditions) you water.
If you test when it’s still and water when it’s windy your lawn may not receive the full 10mm.
If using a different container it is 10mm not 10ml of water your lawn needs. You can use a tape measure to check.

Hydrophobic soil

2. Check the water you apply is penetrating into the soil.

If water is ‘beading’ or ‘pooling’ on your soil or lawn apply a wetting agent.

Thatch (the layer of dead grass matter on the soil) can also become hydrophobic or even a sponge for the water intended to reach your lawns roots. A good wetting agent can help water ‘slip’ past this organic matter but this is not a long term solution to excess thatch.

Hydrophobic soil is very common under trees like gums and box trees that drop leaves with oily and waxy leaves. Additional wetting agent applications may be required in these areas.

If problems persist talk to us about soil amendments and your individual situation.

screwdriver test

3. Check for compaction (hard ground) with the ‘screwdriver test.’

Try to push a large screwdriver or pitchfork into problem areas. If it does not go into the top 150mm easily your lawn NEEDS to be cored/aerated.

Lawn aeration is an excellent maintenance practice that allows more vital air, water and nutrients into the soil profile while softening the ground and making it physically easier for roots to grow.

Even if your lawn does not need aerating it is something you should consider and it can be done at any time of the year.


4. Check for thatch.

If your lawn is spongy this is most likely excess thatch.

Thatch typically develops from too much water, too much nitrogen, not picking up heavy clippings and/or scalping (mowing too hard leaving dead leaf/stems). Thatch production can be reduced with good turf care practices.

Aeration/plug coring can remove some thatch/let more water etc. through to the roots but to remove the bulk of thatch verticutting is required.

For Buffalo lawns the term used is grooming (light verticutting) as there is minimal to no cutting below the soil. The term scarifying means verticutting deeper.

Other common issues that lead to turf troubles and dying lawns

Over or under watering might be the main cause of a faltering lawn, but it is not always the only culprit. There are other aspects of lawn care to keep in mind as you troubleshoot your turf.

If you suspect grubs or beetles are the problem, try pouring a bucket of soapy water on the problem area. Then, wait and see what comes to the surface. The soapy water will bring the culprits to the surface if grubs or other pests are behind the browning grasses.

Very low mowing or scalping can also leave a lawn looking less than stellar. But cutting too low, you can inadvertently remove all the green leafy parts of the turf, leaving only the yellow straw-like leaf of your lawn behind. This can give the appearance of a soon-to-be dead lawn. This can also happen with spongy lawns that have excess thatch. Raising your mowing height and vertimowing at the appropriate time of year will resolve this issue.

Fungus and other diseases can also cause a lawn to die off, but these typically have visible patterns or signs you can look for. They are often an indication of other underlying nutrient deficiencies or overuse. Working with a professional lawn care service to help correct this issue can go a long way to preserving your turf for the long term.

Call in the experts to diagnose your dying lawn

While taking corrective action to ensure proper watering can often resolve a dying lawn, sometimes the causes or damage are more complicated. This is where calling in a professional lawn service with years of experience can help you save your turf and return it to the vibrant green it has the potential to produce.

Lovegrove Turf Services is Perth’s leading provider of premium-quality turf and care services. We have over 100 years of combined industry experience, and one of our experts will be able to determine the root cause of your dying lawn and help bring it back to life. We don’t just care for lawns; we grow and harvest the freshest turf in Western Australia and are knowledgeable in all things grasses.

We pride ourselves on being customer focused and a family business that has served Perth and the surroundings for over 35 years. Call us on 94536222 or send us a message to request a team member provide a fast, free quote to revitalize your dying lawn today!