How to Tell if Grass is Dead: Tips for Worried Homeowners in Allentown, Bethlehem, or Easton, PA

Friday, June 19, 2020

chinch bug lawn damageAre you worried that your grass is dead? 

It’s frustrating to see yellow or brown patches—or even worse, large areas—all around your turf. But you might be wondering if it’s truly dead or maybe just dormant. Plus, whether you have a dead lawn or not, you don’t want to go on with unsightly discoloration. You want to know how you can begin to get solutions underway.

We understand that any time you see something wrong with your lawn, you are eager for solutions. That’s why we’re talking about how to identify a dead lawn and what you can do about it at your Allentown, Bethlehem, or Easton, PA home.

How to Tell if Grass is Dead?

Dormant grass and dead grass can definitely look alike. But one way that you can determine whether grass is truly dead is to try pulling on it. If it resists or you have to work to pull it out, then your grass might just be dormant. 

However, if you tug on a section of brown grass and it comes up easily, it’s definitely dead. 

Let’s Talk Diagnostics

Before we go any further, we want to say that even if your grass did not pass the “tug test” and you’re now sure that your lawn is dead, you should not panic. There are ways to restore your grass.

But first, let’s talk about diagnostics.

That’s because it’s important to figure out what killed your lawn so that it doesn’t happen again. The last thing that you want is to go through the process of restoring your lawn only to have the same lawn problems arise.

Of course, diagnosing lawn problems is not exactly a simple feat. That’s because there are multiple problems that could cause a lawn to die and it’s not unheard of for a lawn to experience more than one of these at once. 


For one, there are a number of different lawn diseases that can infect a lawn and ultimately cause it to die. If your lawn is infected with a disease, determining which one will likely require a professional diagnosis.

Lawn disease

Surface-Feeding Insects

There are also surface-feeding insects that may have turned your lawn into an around-the-clock buffet. If you have brown areas on your lawn, then perform a visual inspection to spy for these pests. You’ll want to get on your hands and knees and pull the thatch layer of your grass apart. If you see insect activity, it could be a surface-feeding pest problem. 

Chinch bug lawn damage

Lawn Grubs

Another possibility is lawn grubs which feed on grass roots, totally detaching the grass from the ground. If your lawn is “rolling up” in sections, almost like a carpet, then it could be lawn grubs that have caused your dead lawn.

Lawn grubs in soil

Or is it Something Else?

Of course, these are just 3 possibilities amongst many. Lawn problems can also be caused by a lack of sun, soil health problems, misapplication of lawn care products, improper irrigation, an infestation of weeds, or more.

The key is to get a proper diagnosis so that any necessary treatments can be implemented. After all, your lawn is likely still living in some areas and you don’t want these spots to succumb to the same problems. You also don’t want to restore your turf only to have the same disease, pest, or other problem to start all over again. 

Can I Bring my Dead Lawn Back to Life?

Now that you understand the importance of getting to the bottom of your lawn problems so that you’re not stuck in an endless cycle, let’s talk about how you can get healthy, green grass growing again.

While you can’t bring dead grass back to life, you can take steps to regrow your lawn with a vital service called aeration and overseeding.

Lawn aeration before and after

Aeration and overseeding is honestly one of the best things that you can do for your lawn and it’s pretty incredible how well it works. 

You don’t have to just take our word for it. Look at these amazing photos of the turf areas used for Muskifest, a legendary Lehigh Valley event that draws in hundreds of thousands people. In fact, attendance at the 2019 event brought in 1,226,000 people.

These areas were trampled by foot traffic, by equipment, and even by vehicles and the grass was absolutely destroyed. It was not only totally brown but it was totally gone in some areas.

But we got out there and provided aeration and overseeding with a high-quality grass seed and, guess what, the grass came back! So, although you cannot bring your existing dead lawn back to life, you can restore your grass. 

After all, if we were able to restore the grass of a commercial site like this just imagine what aeration and overseeding could do in your backyard!

You Can Have your Lawn Back

Although you might be feeling overwhelmed about the prospect of restoring a dead lawn, there are answers out there and you can find them with the help of a professional.


The process starts with the diagnosis of any problems that you might be experiencing at your Lehigh Valley property to ensure that you don’t lose any more lawn than you already have. 

Then, it’s followed up by using aeration and overseeding to restore those dead patches.

At Joshua Tree, we’re up for the challenge! 

We truly do believe that aeration and overseeding are two of the most important things that you can do for your lawn’s health. By combining them with the power of professional diagnostics, you can get your lawn into great shape once again and maintain it going forward so that you no longer have to worry.

If you’d like to find out more about our three lawn care program options, contact us for a free consultation or give us a call at 610-365-2200 so that we can answer any questions.

Request a Free Consultation

Threats to beautiful grass and lawn care remedies.

Joshua Malik

Written by Joshua Malik

With an intense passion for arboriculture and lawn care, founder Joshua Malik brings to Joshua Tree over 20 years of experience in the tree and lawn care industry. And he expects the same passion in his team by employing representatives and field personnel who have achieved and maintained proper industry credentials to ensure clients benefit through best practices.