Will Watering Dead Grass Bring It Back To Life?

Kenneth Wilson

One common question we get from homeowners is: “Is watering dead grass enough to bring back my dead turf to life?”

The simple answer is yes, but only in some instances. There are several different reasons why you have dead grass on your lawn. While simple watering may be adequate to revive a dead lawn in some cases, the same cannot be said for others. That said, let’s first dive into figuring out why brown/dead grass happens.

Can Water Revive Brown Grass?

Just like any other living plant, grass needs water to thrive. Many homeowners think that the grass will grow quite well since they are located in a region with frequent rainfall. But grass still needs regular watering even in areas with monthly rainfall. It would be best to consult a lawn care professional to determine a suitable watering schedule for your lawn needs, depending on your grass type and the sun/shade it receives daily. If you’re looking to revive your stressed, brown grass– you may need to water your lawn more frequently in some cases. Make sure it receives at least an inch of water weekly.

Depending on your lawn needs, you may need to start watering the yard daily to keep it consistently moist. Experts may suggest watering up to twice a day. This is to be kept until new grass sprouts reach 3 to 4 inches, making them perfect for mowing. After that period, you can start watering the lawn with about 1 inch of water weekly.

6 Reasons for Dying Grass and If Watering Can Revive It

Before we talk about how to save your brown lawn, you need to remember that this will depend on your unique circumstances. To effectively revive dead grass, start by determining the root cause of the browning. Here are some of the most common reasons for dying grass.


Only if the grass is dormant, watering may revive the dead lawn. If it's because of drought, it's improbable. Homeowners who live in dry states such as California may have dead lawns due to drought and water restrictions. This is a leading cause of lawn deaths, especially in the summer. Unfortunately– there may be no way to bring back your dead lawn if it’s because of drought. But if you are trying to revive your dormant, brown lawn, this is usually remedied within 3 to 4 weeks of irrigation.

Dormancy and Deep Roots

In some cases, watering may revive the dead lawn. Grass enters dormancy once water is scarce, and the top growth is usually sacrificed for survival. But, the deep grassroots continue to thrive.

Important Note: Suppose the lawn is parched for over six weeks– you may lose your yard. If you see any new growth, it may indicate that it is possible to water dead grass to bring it back.


Yes, but you will first need to use a dethatcher tool (not water the lawn) before watering the lawn. If there are any visible brown spots on your lawn in the summer, this may suggest a possible thatch problem. Thatch refers to a layer of decomposed plant matter, roots, and other debris– which builds up underneath the roots. (Related: Is Dethatching Good for Your Lawn? (And Why You Need To))

To bring back your lawn that’s infested with thatch, you first need to check the thickness. You may break up the thatch using a rake if it is less than an inch. Thicker thatches may need a powerful dethatcher. Once all the thatch layers are removed, you can water the lawn adequately and ensure it is fertilized well for vigorous regrowth.

Lawns Killed by Infestations

Not really. You may need to avoid overwatering if anything. If there are irregular patches of dead grass on your lawn, it may be because of fungus or insects. In that case, you will need to identify the specific garden pest, disease, or fungi plaguing your turfgrass. There are several different methods to resolve this. Generally, you will need to be careful about overwatering in this situation.

Salt Buildup and Chemical Residues

Yes, it is crucial to follow regular irrigation if you're frequently feeding your lawun. Salt and various chemicals can also be another culprit why a lawn dies. If you do not follow adequate irrigation, this may lead to excessive salt build-up in your soil. One way to observe this is by observing brown grass on your lawn (an indication of salt damage from road salt or other de-icers). So if you suspect a possible chemical burn, you must thoroughly water your lawn to reduce the damage. Doing so will most likely wash away the remaining residues.

Pro tip: You may opt to add gypsum salt or limestone in situations like these. If you’re dealing with extensive lawn damage, reseeding may be required.

Shallow Watering and Deep Mowing

Yes, you will need to water your lawn thoroughly– not just frequently. Frequently watering the lawn (but not done thoroughly) may encourage shallow root development. It places your turfgrass at an increased risk of wilting. Especially if you skip a few days of watering– the lawn may die on you. Any fluctuations in the temperature or dry winds may further contribute to the decline of your yard.

To help your brown grass bounce back in no time, water it thoroughly while running a lawn tiller daily for at least an entire week. You can reduce it to 3 days per week, and eventually once a week. Constantly water your lawn thoroughly– as this helps the grass roots establish themselves deep into the ground.

So, Will Watering Dead Grass Bring it Back?

The answer is: it depends on the situation of your lawn! It is expected and considered normal for lawns to enter seasonal dormancy in cool and warm climates. While they appear brown and lifeless, they may not be dead.

You need to help your lawn bounce back in no time by ensuring it is free of pesky weeds, mowed properly, and well-watered. So depending on your lawn’s current situation, thorough watering may be enough to bring it back to its former glory. This may take several weeks, so you must follow a routine watering schedule. Always be cautious about over-watering your lawn, as this may only lead to more lawn damage issues in the long run.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I tell if my grass is dormant (brown) or dead?

Tugging on the grass plants is one way to tell if they are dormant or dead. If the plants easily pull away from the ground, they are most likely diseased. Meanwhile, plants are dormant if the roots remain firm when removed. When you start to water or rain returns, you will notice a difference because moisture will revive dormant brown grass. It will not, however, bring back dead grass plants.

Why is my grass turning brown?

When grass is stressed, it turns brown. During the summer, heat and drought put a lot of strain on grass. Even grasses in warm climates can turn brown for a few weeks.

How much should I water my lawn to avoid dormant grass?

There’s no precise science when watering your lawn, but you need to ensure not to provide too little or too much. Overwatering may drown your yard, while underwatering can cause your grass to become dormant. Water your lawn every other day, either early in the morning or after dinner. Because the mornings are usually cooler, the water can be absorbed before it evaporates in the sun. Watering in the early evening ensures that your lawn receives sunshine while drying before it becomes entirely dark. Regarding quantity, rain or manual watering should provide your lawn with about an inch of water every week.

Kenneth Wilson
June 14, 2022
2terra, Yard & Garden

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

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