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Is Letting Your Grass Turn Brown Ok in Summer? (2023)

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is letting your grass turn brown ok in summerThe hot summer sun beats down on Tom’s front lawn. The grass, once a vibrant green after spring rains, now looks dull and brown. Tom feels discouraged when he sees his neighbor’s lawn – still green and manicured – while his own grass crunches underfoot.

But Tom, the brown grass is okay! Though disheartening to look at, brown grass in summer often just means it is dormant from drought stress or heat.

Follow simple watering and mowing tips to help it survive, and know that most lawns green up again when temperatures cool. And if the brown bothers you, consider alternatives like warm-season grasses or artificial turf.

Don’t let dormancy get you down. With some patience and TLC, you’ll see that crispy brown grass transform back to lush green blades in no time.

Key Takeaways

  • Grass naturally goes dormant and brown in summer to conserve resources.
  • Letting grass turn brown saves significant water compared to keeping it artificially green.
  • Trusting natural cycles instead of demanding perfect green lawns all the time is more sustainable.
  • Transitioning lawn care gradually (e.g., less mowing, fertilizer, etc.) prevents shock to grass as it browns.

Why Grass Goes Dormant

Why Grass Goes Dormant
You’re faced with a browning lawn as summer heat sets in. Don’t panic – your grass is simply entering dormancy to conserve moisture and energy. Though this natural survival tactic may not align with neighborhood preferences, allowing dormancy to run its course actually promotes sustainability.

Heat/Drought Stress

When temps soar and rain’s scarce, your lawn wilts and turns brown to conserve H2O and energy. But it’s still kickin’ – just dormant. Once it’s wet again, the green’ll return in 2 weeks.

Stay patient and mindful of this uncertainty. Grass has natural drought tolerance and conserves itself. Your brown lawn’s still alive – it’s cooperating with nature, not wasting water. Shift your perception – brown doesn’t mean dead. Drought’s no reason to panic or shame neighbors.

With mindfulness, allyship and information sharing, we can all weather dry spells.

Water Conservation

You’d save more water letting your lawn turn crispy as a potato chip than washing it every day. Managing expectations means rethinking beauty – brown grass isn’t ugly, just dormant from lack of water. Shift perceptions by addressing biases – dry hot spells are natural. Embrace change and quit wasting water irrigating lawns unnecessarily.

We’re all in this drought together, so be mindful and patient. Your brown grass will bounce back after the dry spell ends.

Signs of Dormant Grass

Signs of Dormant Grass
As summer heat intensifies, your lawn transitions to a survival mode called dormancy. The grass blades turn tan or light brown while the turf feels dry, limp, and crunchy underfoot. Though disconcerting, these changes help the grass conserve moisture and energy to endure the stress of hot, dry conditions.

Color Change

Your lawn’s shift from vibrant green to faded brown signals its natural response to heat and drought. The color change shows the grass entering dormancy, a water-saving survival mode. Embrace this alternative beauty that breaks conformity. Letting your lawn go brown nurtures drought resilience through sustainable habits.

The limp blades still hold life underground, ready to revive when conditions improve.

Texture Change

Wilting blades and crunchy leaves signal the grass entering survival mode, hibernating like a bear to conserve its energy. The crispiness shows the thatch layer drying out as the green tissue retreats underground.

Warm season grasses thrive, but cool season and broadleaf species struggle without irrigation. Take comfort in the spaces of brown amidst conformity, knowing dormancy nurtures resilience.

Managing Dormant Lawns

Managing Dormant Lawns
Letting your lawn go dormant is an acceptable and environmentally responsible practice during summer heatwaves. To maintain the crowns’ health without stimulating growth, lightly water about 1/2 inch every 2-3 weeks.

Meanwhile, stop mowing and fertilizing until cooler temperatures allow the turf to recover. When properly managed, dormancy enables grass to conserve resources until rains return.

Watering Tips

Douse dormant lawns sparingly; don’t drown them to keep crowns alive. During hot, dry stretches, moisten the top half-inch of soil every 2-3 weeks. This prevents total turf withdrawal, though blades stay tan. Skipping supplemental water saves costs and prevents runoff.

If concerned about brown upside, reconsider grass culture with drought-wise landscape changes like replacing turf with native plants, hardscape, or warm-season grasses.

Mowing Tips

Stop mowing when blades turn tan to avoid further stressing your dormant turf. I understand some folks fret over an unkempt appearance, but saving water and letting grass rest outweighs neatness.

  • Set mower height high or remove blade
  • Skip fertilizing until grass greens up
  • Leave clippings for moisture retention
  • Consider overseeding thin spots in fall
  • Give turf time to rebuild carbohydrate reserves

Grass Greening Again

Grass Greening Again
Though browning may spur doubt this time of year, your lawn will start turning green again within about 2 weeks after healthier growing conditions return. Wait to fertilize for roughly 2 weeks after thoroughly watering the turf for several weeks once the dry spell breaks.

Your grass just entered survival mode for the summer; with a bit of patience, it will revive in no time.


You’ll see those lawns turn green again in a couple of weeks when the rains return. The dormant grass springs back quickly once thoroughly watered, recovering its lush appearance within 14 days. Be patient; this predictable timeframe allows the weakened turf to revive at its own pace.

With proper care, your lawn withstands summer droughts and rebounds once the seasons shift.


Fertilize the lawn about two weeks after thoroughly watering to aid its vigorous revival. Follow seasonal patterns to forecast needs accurately when applying optimal nitrogen sources. Prioritize alternatives like mulching clippings to nourish the turf and protect it from erosion.

These practices cultivate healthy, beautiful green lawns at lower costs without overfeeding.

Preventing Brown Patches

Preventing Brown Patches
Proper irrigation is crucial to maintain lawn health and avoid further browning. Be sure to water evenly across your entire yard. Adjust sprinklers to ensure all areas are getting sufficient moisture. Monitor grass for dry spots and increase watering times if needed.

Ideal mowing heights will also help minimize brown patches. Raise your mower blade to 3-4 inches during summer’s heat. The extra height will provide insulation to the soil and crowns of the grass plants.

Mow frequently, never removing more than 1/3 of the blade height in a single cut.

With attentive irrigation and mowing practices, you can keep your turfgrass as healthy as possible during summer dormancy. The grass will still discolor but proper care will prevent extensive die-back and ugly brown patches taking over your lawn.


Consider adjusting your sprinklers to water more evenly and avoid oversaturating patches. Mismatched spray patterns often brown certain areas first. Focus on irrigating deeply and infrequently, about 1 inch per week.

Letting turf go dormant conserves water for trees and shrubs. Embrace alternative beauty this summer. Nature adapts, flexibly sustaining life in dry, hot weather. Reimagine summer beauty with options to enjoy brown, lush, or in-between lawns at any time.

Mowing Height

Mow high to shield soil from summer sun.

  1. Set mower to 3-4 inches to shade soil, reduce evaporation.
  2. Longer blades mean deeper roots to resist drought.
  3. Minimize brown fatigue by mowing less often.
  4. Let grass go dormant to minimize water expenses.
  5. Avoid heavy traffic to prevent damaging dormant turf.

Control growth using height, not frequency. Lengthening grass insulates the ground, sustaining life through heat.

Lawn Alternatives

Lawn Alternatives
Here are some options beyond the traditional lawn. Artificial turf provides a consistent green aesthetic with minimal maintenance required. Alternatively, warm-season grasses like bermuda and zoysia stay green in summer’s heat, but they do turn brown once frosts arrive.

Artificial Turf

Fake turf trims water bills, but can’t match real grass’s feel under bare feet. Synthetic turf withstands drought, yet denies primal joys. Artificial turf lasts years with minor upkeep compared to mowing, fertilizing, and weeding.

Consider pros and cons when debating between real or fake grass. Both require maintenance, yet offer different benefits.

Real Grass Artificial Turf
Soft, cool feel Always green
Natural, living No mowing or weeding
Brown dormancy Less water, no fertilizer
Requires mowing, watering Won’t stain or fade
Can grow weeds, pests Not soft, can get too hot

Warm-Season Grasses

You’d save water growing buffalo grass or zoysia rather than thirsty bluegrass. Those warm-season grasses stay greener in the heat with less water than traditional lawn types. Low mowing reduces the rainfall reservoirs needed for warm season lawns to thrive.

Green dye application maintains the façade of lush turf. Careful chemical selection prevents weeds while letting the grass survive drought. Sensors help determine the precise amount of water for healthy grass without waste.

Dormant brown turf in cool seasons signals the return of lush green in warm seasons.

Water Facts

Water Facts
You may be surprised that lawn irrigation accounts for over half of home water use. Grass can actually withstand far more drought than you think before dying. With water supplies tightening, understanding grass’s true drought tolerance helps guide your summer watering.

Residential Use

Over half of home water use goes toward irrigating lawns. Despite cultural preferences for green lawns, grass can withstand more drought than we realize. Growth simply slows under heat stress. Applying just half an inch of water every 2 weeks keeps the crowns alive—not lush and green.

This saves water while maintaining the health benefits and insect habitats lawns provide. With some understanding, we can meet site conditions while adjusting our image of beauty.

Drought Tolerance

Despite this summer’s heat, your lawn stands resilient. Its roots reach deep, drawing just enough moisture for survival. This drought-hardened grass knows when to rest; its growth cycle attuned to nature’s rhythms.

With less water, it directs energy underground, focusing on long-term health not temporary greenness. Trust its wisdom, and let those brown blades be your guide. Thoughtful mowing and care keep your lawn poised to thrive when rain returns.

Social Pressures

Social Pressures
You’re faced with a dilemma as summer heat kicks in. Neighbors judge brown lawns as unkempt eyesores. Homeowner associations and municipalities enforce strict rules that promote lawn conformity.

Neighbor Judgment

Don’t be ashamed of your brown lawn; it’s helping the environment. Neighbors may judge drought-stressed grass as unkempt, but conformity breeds wasted water. Dig deep to find the inner strength that values doing what’s right over keeping up appearances.

Focus on the ethics of conservation, not their perceptions. Let community standards evolve with the climate rather than inflicting ongoing visual assault from a dull blade.


You’re not breaking the law when your lawn browns. The U.S. uses 10 trillion gallons of water on landscaping annually – we should rethink unrealistic green standards. Strict rules enforcing lawn conformity waste resources. Experiment with letting nature take its course.

Nurture the beauty in your lawn’s natural state. Grass needs rest to store food and rebuild. With proper care, dormant grass will break dormancy when conditions allow. Promote a community spirit that values resilience over rigidity.

Lawn History

Lawn History
Lawns have long been associated with order, status, and wealth. As a homeowner, you may feel a moral duty to maintain a tidy, green lawn even during summer droughts. However, letting your lawn go dormant is an environmentally responsible choice that challenges traditional social pressures for the perfect carpet of green grass.

Status Symbol

You’ve tackled the social stigma, now view your lawn as a chance to break tradition.

  1. Collective thrift
  2. Social stature
  3. Psychological health
  4. Cultural critique

Letting grass turn brown shows ecological sensitivity. Welcome color change, crispiness.

Moral Obligation

Resist the urge to judge neighbors sporting crispy lawns. While tradition sees lawns as a tidy moral duty, change comes. Nitrogen boosts an unnatural green despite heat. Let grass rest through temperature changes and severe drought.

Champion resilient lawns and turfgrasses. Welcome individuality amid conformity.

Overcoming Brown Fatigue

Overcoming Brown Fatigue
Envisioning greener pastures ahead can re-energize your commitment to more sustainable landscaping.

  1. Embrace cultural adaptation of rewilding ideals that question the benefits of resource-intensive lawns.
  2. View design challenges like simple ways to limit excessive nitrogen, infestation of fungus, and buildup of thatch.
  3. Adjust perceptions by seeing beauty in natural cycles instead of demanding an artificial image.

There’s freedom in releasing expectations of perpetual emerald perfection. Be patient – greener days’ll come again. This season, discover the potential for your landscape’s dormancy to restore and renew.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I water my lawn when it’s dormant?

During dormancy, water your lawn sparingly – only about half an inch every 2-3 weeks – just enough to keep the crowns alive without stimulating new growth. Allowing it to go brown conserves water, but a complete lack of moisture can damage the grass.

What type of grass is most resistant to going dormant in the summer heat?

Like soldiers bravely resisting enemy invasion, warm-season grasses resist going dormant in summer’s heat. As an expert, I recommend zoysia and bermudagrass for staying verdant through the dog days.

Will letting my lawn go dormant attract pests like bugs or rodents?

Letting your lawn go dormant won’t attract extra pests. Dormant grass is still alive, so bugs and rodents won’t suddenly see it as dead material to consume.

How can I gradually transition my lawn to being dormant without shocking the grass?

Incrementally reduce watering over 2-3 weeks to acclimate your lawn. This gradual transition prevents shock and allows grass to adjust its growth rate for survival.

Are there any lawn care tasks I should avoid when my grass is dormant, besides mowing and fertilizing?

You’ll want to abstain from aerating, dethatching, and heavy topdressing while your turf is taking a siesta. These intrusive acts could disturb its beauty rest. Let the grass be until spring to bounce back with vim and vigor later.


Imagine that – it’s summertime and your lawn’s turned brown! Don’t sweat it, letting dormancy run its course is A-OK. Keep crowns hydrated with light watering, then let your turf wake when conditions improve.

Once it greens, give nitrogen for recovery. Going brown this season? You’ve got this! Remember, dormancy is natural and your lawn will bounce back. Keep patient through the heat and know a greener, healthier lawn awaits on the other side.

Avatar for Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.