How to revive dead grass — 7 tips to make your lawn green again

dead grass
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If your once beautiful, green lawn has slowly turned yellow or brown this summer, you’ll need to know how to revive a dried lawn. Whether it’s from the intense heat, or you’ve left it to go on vacation, there’s nothing worse than coming home to a dried and unappealing lawn. Despite our best efforts on how to make your grass greener, grass can often begin to dry or recede in extreme weather conditions. And if it doesn’t have the suitable growing conditions, it will eventually die over time. 

While it may seem like the end of the road for your precious lawn, don’t despair. There are ways to revive your dried lawn and make it green again. In fact, it’s not as challenging as it seems, and just involves some extra care and planning. So, if you want to bring your lacklustre grass back to life, here’s 7 ways to revive a dried lawn.

Once you revive your dried lawn, be sure not to make any of these seven common lawn care mistakes. Also, here are 5 reasons to buy an electric lawn mower if you're thinking of upgrading.

How to revive a dried lawn

Before you tackle your dried lawn, you’ll need to know whether your grass is dead or dormant. Simply tug at a piece of grass, and if it easily comes away at a pull, that means it’s dead. Other signs to lookout for include distinct patterns or areas or circles of brown grass. On the other hand, dormant grass is essentially still alive, and can spring back to life after about 10-14 days by following the steps below. 

1. Dethatch your lawn 

Raking leaves on lawn

Raking leaves on lawn (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The first step is to dethatch the law. This involves raking over the lawn to allow air or moisture to penetrate the grass better.  Essentially, thatch is a layer of decomposing plant materials, such as dead leaves and trees, that builds up on the surface of the soil. If it gets thicker than ½ inch, this can prevent your lawn from getting enough air, water and nutrients. It also prevents healthy root development and can make it prone to insect and disease issues.  

2. Aerate the soil

Aerating soil with fork

Aerating soil with fork (Image credit: Shutterstock)

When the soil is too dense or the grass is too thick, this often prevents air from penetrating, which can eventually kill the grass. Aerating your lawn helps prevent this, allowing air, water and nutrients reach the roots. To aerate your lawn, punch holes using a fork to about five or six inches in depth. This way you'll help your lawn receive all the nutrients it needs to thrive.

3. Kill weeds and dandelions 

dandelions in grass

dandelions in grass (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Weeds can spring up quickly, feeding on water or any moisture available in the ground. When you have weeds growing alongside grass, this creates a battle of survival, meaning there is less water for grass. Remove weeds by hand-pulling them out by the root or by using a tool like this Walensee Weed Puller ($36, Amazon (opens in new tab)). Similarly, knowing how to get rid of dandelions also helps keep more moisture and nutrients for the grass. 

4. Fertilize it 

Man putting fertlizer in sprayer for lawn

Man putting fertlizer in sprayer for lawn (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Lawns need a consistent supply of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to help them develop and stay healthy. Depending on your soil type (clay or sandy), there are suitable fertilisers in granular or liquid forms. In addition, you can naturally fertilize using compost or grass clippings, both of which double up as a great defence against weeds. 

5. Plant new grass seeds or lay sod 

Sod being laid on a lawn

Sod being laid on a lawn (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If your dried lawn is receding or patchy, you’ll need to know how to plant grass seeds and get a greener yard. It’s always best to choose a high-quality grass seed and spread it evenly over your prepared lawn. Once the seed is completely laid down, cover it with a thin layer of soil. Alternatively, if you don't want to wait too long for your grass to grow, learn how to lay sod for an instant upgrade. Sod is grass that is already growing and comes in rolls or squares that you lay over your soil. If you are only filling in dead patches, you can simply use sod to plug wherever you need new grass. 

 6. Water frequently  

Watering lawn with sprinklers

Watering lawn with sprinklers (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Dried lawns are a sure sign of dehydration, so you’ll need to soak the lawn thoroughly. Bear in mind that you need to water at the right times. Experts advise the best time to water your lawn is early morning or late evening when it’s cooler. Watering during hot periods of the day will evaporate most of the moisture, so it won’t be absorbed into the lawn. It’s best to use a sprinkler system to ensure the lawn gets a thorough soak. There are many affordable sprinkler systems available, like this GOLDFLOWER Garden Sprinkler ($14, Amazon (opens in new tab)).  

 7. Top dress the lawn 

Preparing soil

Preparing soil (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Topdressing is a layer of compost or other nutrient-rich soil covering the top of your lawn. This will give the dried lawn a nutrient boost and will improve the structure of the soil at root level, again helping absorbency. With the help of aeration and a better water flow, the lawn can absorb the nutrients naturally through decomposition, helping the grass grow thicker. In addition, you can top dress the lawn with sands or other mixtures, depending on your soil type. 

Other tips to keep your lawn green 

  • Don’t cut your grass too short. Experts advise cutting grass down to 2 ½ to 3 inches, which is a healthy height
  • Experts also suggest mowing your lawn at least once a week in summer and once every two weeks for the remaining seasons 
  • Make sure your lawn has good drainage to avoid it getting waterlogged
  • Avoid planting grass seeds in shady areas. Grasses require sunlight to stay healthy and thrive. If you’re planting seeds in shade, they may not survive 

After you're done with this check out the best time to water your lawn according to the experts. And you can also read about how much you should water your lawn to keep it green, according to experts and also how to fix a waterlogged lawn and this is when you should stop mowing your lawn for the winter.

You can also read our guide on how to get rid of lawn grubs for a pest-free backyard and how to rake leaves to keep your yard clean this Fall. 

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!