Why is My Bermuda Grass Turning Brown (Or Yellow)?

You cut it. You water it. You fertilize it. Yet, those annoying brown or yellow patches keep popping up! Why does this happen with bermuda grass? More importantly, what can you do to make your bermuda grass look healthy and green again?

Why Does Bermuda Grass Turn Brown After Mowing?

There is a simple explanation. If bermuda grass gets too long, the lower part of the grass blade is hidden from the sun and will turn brown. Once you mow, the brown part is exposed.

There is also a simple solution to this problem. Make sure your bermuda grass doesn’t get too long. Mow it often. During peak growth season, you may need to mow several times a week to avoid brown grass.

Always keep bermuda grass short – less than three inches is ideal. When mowing, don’t take off too much grass at once. Cut less than one-third of the total grass height at one time.

Can Bermuda Grass Get Brown Patches?

Brown bermuda grass is relatively common. It’s important to know the cause of the brown grass before you can treat it. Some people even describe it by saying their bermuda grass looks burnt.

Common signs of brown grass

  • Patches of brown grass start off pretty small. Pretty soon, though, they start to spread and even join together.
  • A ring of brown grass may look like a circle around a bunch of green grass.
  • The grass is brown on the bottom part of the blade.

Causes of brown bermuda grass

  1. Bermuda grass can get a fungus called brown patch disease fungus. Fungi outbreaks in bermuda grass are most common in the hottest months of the year.  Bermuda grass can also have spring dead spot, dollar spot, or leaf spot fungi. These fungi work by blocking photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process by which plants make food from the sun. This is what gives them their green color. If your grass can’t perform photosynthesis, it will turn brown.
  1. Too much shade can also prohibit photosynthesis and cause brown bermuda grass. Bermuda grass needs at minimum 4 hours of sunlight every day to thrive! Any less than that, and it will weaken. Weak grass is less tolerant of heat, cold, drought, or disease.
  1. Bermuda grass is a warm-weather grass. It goes dormant in temperatures that are consistently under 55 degrees. Brown grass is to be expected if the temperatures are cool.
  1. Compacted bermuda grass may turn brown also. In areas where the dirt under the roots of the grass is tamped down, the soil can become waterlogged. This will eventually suffocate the roots of the grass. This is why aeration and dethatching are so crucial for the health of your lawn.

Will Dead Bermuda Grass Come Back?

If your bermuda grass is completely dead, it will not come back. You will need to replace it with either sod or grass seed.

However, if your lawn is merely suffering from brown spots, there are ways to treat and repair ailing bermuda grass. Don’t give up hope unless the entire yard is completely dead.

How Do You Revive Bermuda Grass?

Once you’ve determined the cause of your brown grass, you can treat it.

Treating a fungus

Overnight moisture creates an ideal fungal breeding ground in your yard. Avoid watering at night, and, instead, try to water first thing in the morning. This is especially important during the hottest part of the year. This will allow the moisture to dissipate during the heat of the day.

There are broad spectrum lawn fungicides available. However, if you can pinpoint the exact type of fungus, it will be easier to treat. If you have access to a county extension office, they can identify the fungal type from a grass sample. They typically require a 4-inch by 4-inch square of sod with the roots intact in order to test it.

If you have brown patch fungus in your yard, it can be treated every 14 days with a fungicide. Daconil or Fung-Away are recommended to treat brown patch disease fungus.

Treating compacted soil

Bermuda grass needs plenty of room for its roots to grow. Lawn aeration removes plugs of soil, which allows the roots to expand. Regular aeration of your lawn is recommended for ideal grass health.

Treating grass that isn’t getting enough sun

If your yard has too much shade, your grass will suffer. Trim back bushes and trees to allow more sunlight to reach your lawn. If this is not an option, a different type of grass or ground cover may be better suited to your yard than bermuda grass.

Treating dormant grass

If your grass is dormant when the weather turns cool, no treatment is necessary! Allow it to go into dormancy and anticipate green grass again in the spring.

If it isn’t cool out, and you suspect your grass is dormant, there may be another cause. Is it getting enough water? Do you need to fertilize? Bermuda grass may go dormant if it is trying to conserve energy.

Does Bermuda Grass Turn Brown in Winter?

Bermuda grass is perennial, meaning it goes dormant in the winter. Perennial grass is an excellent choice for locations with hot summer weather. It is easy to care for, looks great, and doesn’t require much water.

Once the weather turns cold, bermuda grass goes dormant. When spring comes again, it will grow once more. No reseeding is necessary!