Is My Yard Dead or Dormant?

Posted on Dec 13, 2018 9:00:00 AM by Stephanie Morgan

Is My Yard Dead or Dormant | The Experienced Gardener

When you work all spring and summer to get your yard green and lush it can be disheartening to see the grass turn brown. Is your yard dead or just dormant when it turns brown or yellow? The answer to that question depends on a few factors. Should the type of grass you have still be green given the time of year? Are the weather conditions in your area extreme enough to kill of your grass? Have underground pests invaded your yard? Looking into each of these will help you determine whether your yard is in dormancy or dead.

Consider the type of grass you have

There are a number of different types of grasses that can thrive in a variety of conditions. Some of the types of grass you can find in California include Fescue, Zoysia, St. Augustine, and Bermuda. One way to categorize the grass types are as cool season grass or warm season grass. These descriptions have to do with the timing of the grasses growing vs dormancy cycle as well as other factors like drought, heat, and cold tolerance. For example, Fescue is a cool season grass that starts to really develop its color around November. Bermuda grass, on the other hand, is a warm season grass that loses its green color during the cold months of the year. It helps to know the type of grass you have so you understand what should happen to it throughout the year. If you have fescue grass that does not perk up as the weather cools then it is possible that your yard is dead. On the other hand, yellow Bermuda grass during the winter is typically nothing to worry about.

Consider the weather conditions in your area

There are some weather conditions that grass simply cannot survive. An extended and severe drought can kill off even the grass varieties that are typically drought resistant. Extremely cold weather can lead to what is often known as ‘winterkill’ in your grass, even if it can typically survive cooler weather. Consider the recent weather conditions in your area. Has there been any type of extreme weather? If the answer is yes, then it is possible that your colorless grass is dead and not simply in dormancy.

Look for signs of underground pests

Pests like voles can wreak havoc on the root systems of your grass. These tiny pests can cause a huge amount of damage to your yard. If you see mounds, raised tunnels, or notice soft spots in your yard then you may have a pest problem. You need to deal with this issue quickly in order to avoid the complete destruction of your yard. Professional help is typically needed because these pests are difficult to eradicate.

Unfortunately, the only real way to determine if some or your entire yard has died off is to wait until the seasons change. If your grass does not come back to life during its active season then you can conclude that it has died. Often, only sections of a yard have been killed off by extreme weather or pests. If you are concerned about how your yard is doing then you can always call in a professional. A lawn care expert can help you determine what type of grass you have and the timing of dormancy and growing. This knowledge will go a long way toward helping you determine the health of your lawn.  

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Topics: San Joaquin Valley, General Info, Gardens