Dormant Grass vs Dead Grass | How to Tell The Difference?

dormant grass vs dead grass

A brown patch of grass In your lawn is highly unattractive and seems out of place on a green patch. Check to see if the grass is dormant or dead before heading out to locate a remedy. Because inadequate food and water supplies can also cause your grass to turn brown, it is impossible to know if the grass is dead by looking at it. With these most prevalent differences between the two, let’s start to determine whether your grass is dead or dormant.

Comparison Of Dormant Grass Vs Dead Grass

FeatureDormant GrassDead Grass
ColorYellow or brownBrown or tan
TextureDry and brittleDry and brittle
Root SystemIntact, able to regrowDead, unable to regrow
AppearanceMay still have some green blades, but overall looks unhealthyCompletely brown and lifeless
Recovery PotentialCan recover with proper care and wateringCannot recover, must be replaced
CausesSeasonal changes or lack of waterProlonged drought or disease

Dormant Grass vs Dead Grass – The Difference 

 Dormant Grass

 Dormant Grass

Although a little area known as the crown is still alive, even though the grass appears to be dead to human sight, the grass regenerates into a healthy turf when the environment is improved or when there is enough water available.

Any grass can often go up to six weeks without experiencing any negative consequences during its dormant stage. If the timeframe is extended, the turf may suffer; we plan on losing roughly 25% after each additional week.

Reasons Behind Dormant Grass 

The types of grass that grow on your lawn will determine why they go into dormancy. Warm season grasses like zoysia and centipede grasses are inactive during the winter, whereas cold season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass and tall fescue grass do so during the summer. The following are the primary causes of dormancy:

  • To endure the severe and protracted weather.
  • To activate its built-in natural defense system.
  • Water is scarce.

Dead Grass  

Dead Grass  

It’s challenging to find dead grass on your lawn. The process of preserving itself from the hard environmental conditions might cause grass in the dormant stage to die. You must wait until the dormant season is over before checking to see if the grass will grow again in the spring.

Once the minimal dormant period has passed, you can continue watering the lawn to check on whether the grass has emerged from its latent state.

Reasons Behind Dead Grass 

  • A drought situation
  • Mold on the lawn
  • Pet Rest Areas
  • Minimal Fertilization
  • The wrong way to mow the grass

Is My Grass Dead Or Dormant?

Once you’ve determined that your browning grass isn’t the result of disease or insect damage, you can experiment with other methods to determine its condition. A tug test is one of these strategies. Pull a handful of grass from your turf to perform a tug test. If the grass is easily removed from the ground, it is dead; if the grass resists removal, it is most likely dormant.

1. Check for Patterns in the Grass 

Patterns in your grass might indicate whether it is in a dormant or dead stage. You may assume the grass is dormant if the entire yard is brown. However, you can tell that the grass is dying if you see distinct patterns or patches of brown grass. You must seek professional assistance to determine the root cause of the fading grass.

2. Dormant Grass vs Dead Grass Tug Test 

Use the tug test to determine whether the grass is dormant or dead. Choose a spot or region where the grass is brown. Take a handful of grass; if it comes out easily and without resistance, the grass is dead. Once the dead grass has been removed, you can add sod or seed to create new turf. Additionally, provide the seeded area with the necessary nutrients and water.

3. Check For Watering Of The Grass 

Any grass that enters a dormant stage is primarily due to a lack of water. The appropriate quantity of water will restore the green color to brown grass. Dead grass remains dead, whereas dormant grass regenerates after receiving enough water.

4. Change in Climate 

The primary causes of the dormancy or death of the grass on your lawn are variations in the weather and temperature. In the summer, most cool-season grasses will go dormant, while warm-season grasses do the same in the winter. The grass will regenerate once the conditions are favorable for growth because it is still alive.

Can Dead Grass Be Revived? 

Dead grass cannot be revived, but you can re-grow your landscape by laying new sod. Your lawn will require new seed or sod if there are brown, barren, or thinning patches. Although removing old and dead grass before establishing a new lawn is better, you can sometimes sow new seeds over an existing one.

Get in touch with a reputable lawn care company to test your soil. This will reveal whether the grass is dying due to poor soil quality, bugs, illnesses, or inadequate lawn maintenance.


It might be tricky to identify if a grass is dead or dormant for anybody who is not familiar with the grasses. But, it can be done easily by following the above given steps and understand why any grass become dormant or dead. I hope this post helped you to understand the difference between dormant grass vs dead grass.

FAQs –

Fertilizing your lawn is still essential for your plant’s health, even when they are dormant. When your lawn is brown, and you feel that your efforts are in vain, it may seem pointless to apply fertilizer, but as soon as it rains, the nutrients will be absorbed by the grass.

Once the turf turns dormant, we advise watering once every two weeks with a half inch of water to keep plant tops moist during a drought. Although this amount of water won’t make the grass greener, it will boost the plant’s long-term survival during extended dry spells.

The end of root dormancy often occurs three to four weeks before the start of top green growth. But because there are so many different factors involved in green-up, you might need to be patient or give your grass some tender loving care to get it back to green.

Many believe that watering dead grass will make it come back to life. The truth is that watering dead grass might exacerbate the problem. It may cause the underground roots to rot and decay faster than they otherwise would.

The first thing to recognize is that when lawns turn brown in the summer due to a lack of rain, they are not dead; instead, they are simply dormant. To the untrained eye, grass plants may appear dead, but a small portion of the plant’s inside, known as the crown, is still alive.

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