Bermuda grass is a warm-season grass known to be hardy and easy to grow.
The grass is very cold tolerant, so it will grow as far north as Virginia.
Because of its fast growth rate, Bermuda grass is perfect for achieving a lush, green lawn.
But is it normal for Bermuda grass to turn brown or yellow?
It is completely normal for Bermuda grass to turn brown when it goes dormant in cool or extremely hot temperatures. However, if your lawn turns yellow or brown, this indicates a problem. The most common reasons for Bermuda grass to turn are poor soil conditions, a lack of nutrients, and improper lawn care practices.
Keep reading to learn more about why your Bermuda grass has turned brown or yellow and solutions to make your lawn green again.
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Soil compaction is caused by a lot of foot traffic on a lawn.
Compacted soil does not provide enough oxygen or drainage, which causes the grass roots to rot and effectively kills your Bermuda grass.
Brown spots in Bermuda grass may also appear if the grass is not getting enough water.
The compacted soil will cause the grass to dry up more quickly and make your grass turn brown.
Compacted soil may also make your lawn more prone to developing thatch since the plant roots cannot penetrate the ground very far.
When the grass roots start growing up and out of the soil, a layer of thatch is formed.
If the thatch layer is thick enough, it will prevent your Bermuda grass from getting enough water, and the grass will develop brown patches.
Since Bermuda grass is a warm-season grass, it will go dormant and turn brown during the winter months.
When the temperatures become warmer in the spring, you see green grass.
Bermuda grass will go dormant when soil temperatures drop below 55° degrees Fahrenheit (13° C).
This dormancy is entirely normal, and it does not mean your entire lawn is full of dead grass.
Once temperatures are consistently 65° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C) or warmer for an extended period, your Bermuda grass will turn green.
Sudden cold temperatures may cause your Bermuda grass to go dormant earlier in the season.
Lack of Sunlight
If there are shady areas in your yard, you may consider mowing your Bermuda grass at a taller height so the grass can reach more sunlight.
However, when the grass blades are longer than recommended, direct sunlight cannot reach the bottom part of the grass.
This not only makes the grass more brittle, but it causes the bottom half of the grass to turn brown.
When there is too much shade over your Bermuda grass, it will not grow.
For Bermuda grass to stay healthy, it needs at least six full hours of sun every day across the entire length of the grass.
When the grass blades are longer than 2″ inches, the Bermuda grass will turn brown from the bottom to the top.
Fungal disease will cause your Bermuda grass to turn brown, and if it is not treated for an extended period, your grass may even die.
The most common fungal diseases affecting Bermuda grass include:
- Brown patch disease
- Dollar spot
- Leaf spot
- Spring dead spot
Brown Patch Disease
The Rhizoctonia fungal pathogen causes this lawn disease.
Brown patch disease occurs in Bermuda grass and zoysia and St. Augustine.
The disease thrives when nighttime temperatures are above 60° degrees Fahrenheit (16° C), and daytime temperatures consistently range between 70 and 90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C) combined with excessive overnight moisture.
Dollar spot is a soil fungus, and it is much easier to prevent it than to get rid of it completely.
Even though dollar spot is a soil fungus, it only turns the grass brown and does not affect the roots.
Dollar spot is caused when the roots are very dry, but morning dew and high humidity on the grass blades cause them to rot from the top down.
Leaf spot is caused by the Helminthosporium fungus, which happens during a rainy spring when temperatures are regularly lower than 65° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C).
The time of year combined with the temperatures means the grass is more vulnerable to this fungus because it is beginning to come out of dormancy.
Thatch is the most common reason this fungal infection develops.
Leaf spots will first appear as minuscule brown spots on the grass blades.
If the fungus is not treated, the Bermuda grass will wilt and turn yellow.
Over time, the grass will turn brown and begin to die.
Spring Dead Spot
Spring dead spot gets its name because it only occurs in nitrogen-rich soil during the warmer spring months.
This fungal disease causes Bermuda grass to have brown circles, and in severe cases, the grass may develop a bleached look.
Spring dead spot causes every part of the grass to rot, so the roots will be black if the grass blades are brown.
When a Bermuda grass lawn is affected by spring dead spots, weeds will become prevalent as they outpace the grass growth.
Improper Herbicide or Fertilizer Application
Applying the wrong type or quantity of lawn chemicals will cause your Bermuda grass to turn brown or yellow.
Certain herbicides are not safe for Bermuda grass and should not be used because they will cause the grass to become burned and discolored.
Overapplying fertilizer to your lawn will have a similar effect and cause the Bermuda grass to become yellow or streaky.
Fertilizer burn happens as a result of too much nitrogen.
For more help, look at our list of the best pre-emergent herbicides for killing weeds.
Lack of Nutrients
If your Bermuda grass lawn is not receiving enough nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium, the grass will turn brown.
Nutrient deficiencies are usually caused by compacted soil and not applying fertilizer.
When soil is compacted too much, essential nutrients and moisture cannot reach the roots and keep the grass healthy.
While your Bermuda grass receives some nutrients from the sun, it does not receive the ones it needs to stay lush and green.
Poor soil conditions coupled with a lack of fertilizer application will cause your grass to become yellow or brown, and it could die.
Drought and Heat
When coupled with extreme heat, prolonged drought conditions are a perfect recipe for making your Bermuda grass turn brown.
Even though Bermuda grass is considered highly drought-tolerant, the grass will go dormant if dry conditions persist for a long time.
If your Bermuda grass is turning brown at the peak of summer, it does not necessarily mean your lawn is dead.
Grass becomes dormant to survive harsh conditions such as drought stress.
To maintain a drought-dormant lawn, you need to add ½” inch of water to your lawn every two to three weeks.
To turn your grass green, you will need to apply around 1″ inch of water every 6-7 days, which equates to approximately two hours of using your sprinklers.
Related: When does Bermuda grass go dormant?
Bermuda grass is susceptible to pest infestations, which will cause it to turn brown.
The most common pests affecting Bermuda grass lawns are chinch bugs and grubs.
Chinch bugs are tiny red, orange, brown, or black bugs with white markings.
These small bugs will leach all of the moisture from your Bermuda grass.
A chinch bug infestation signs include wilted, yellow, or brown grass.
The easiest way to find these tiny bugs is to inspect wilted grass for them.
Grubs are another common insect that will cause your Bermuda grass to become yellow or brown.
Grubs are beetle larvae, and they feed on the grass roots.
The damage from a grub infestation appears very similar to the damage done by drought.
Finding grubs is a little more complicated, and it requires you to dig out a 12″ x12″ inch square of grass and then turn it over to inspect it underneath.
If you see more than ten grubs per square foot, this indicates an infestation.
Pet waste is one of the most common causes for Bermuda grass to turn brown.
Dog urine and feces will cause your grass to become discolored if not promptly removed.
If your pet always seems to go in the same spot on your lawn, you will need to guide the dog to use other areas to prevent the grass in the spot from completely dying out.
Solutions for Brown Spots on Your Bermuda Grass
There are many reasons for your Bermuda grass to become yellow or brown.
Fortunately, there are several ways to remedy the discoloration, depending on the issue your lawn is facing.
Treat and Prevent Lawn Fungi
If your Bermuda grass lawn is brown or yellow and caused by a fungal infestation, there are several ways to clear the fungus, depending on the type.
The most commonly used fungicide treatments for brown patch fungus include Immunox, Daconil, Rubigan, and Rimidin.
These fungicide treatments are expensive, but they must be done once every two weeks until the fungus is cleared.
Since the fungicide treatments need to be very precise, you may consider hiring a professional lawn care service to treat your lawn.
The treatment for the dollar spot and leaf spot fungus is similar to the treatment for brown patch disease.
However, both fungi are easily preventable by adding a nitrogen fertilizer, dethatching in the early spring, and core-aerating your lawn at least once per year.
Spring dead spot is a little more challenging to treat because it requires proper fertilizer application during the growing season and a fungicide treatment in the late fall after the grass goes dormant.
Dethatching and Lawn Aeration
For your Bermuda grass to receive the correct amount of nutrients and moisture to grow lush and green, you must dethatch and core aerate your lawn regularly.
Dethatching involves the removal of the thatch layer between the grass roots and the blades so moisture and nutrients can reach the soil.
Core aeration loosens compacted soil by adding holes in the ground with an aerating tool.
These holes will allow water and fertilizer to reach the grass roots to keep your grass healthy and green.
Check out our guide for aerating lawns.
If there is too much shade on your lawn for your Bermuda grass to grow and stay green, you may need to reduce these shady areas.
Reducing shade is done by trimming large trees and bushes so more sunlight can reach your grass.
If trimming the trees or hedges does not provide your Bermuda grass with enough light, you will likely have to cut down the trees or shrubs or opt for a different grass type on your lawn.
The ideal mowing height for keeping Bermuda grass green and healthy is 2″ inches.
Use the Correct Amount of Fertilizer
When applying fertilizer to your lawn, it is important to follow the application rate and dilution instructions on the product label.
For Bermuda grass lawns, it is best to use a slow-release fertilizer with a 3-1-2 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
This ratio ensures your grass gets enough nitrogen to give your lawn its green color and receives enough phosphorus and potassium for healthy growth.
When appropriately applied, fertilizer will not cause brown or yellow grass areas.
Our post on the best fertilizers for Bermuda grass will help you pick the right one.
Use Proper Pest Control
To prevent chinch bugs in Bermuda grass, removing thatch from your lawn at least two times a year is necessary.
Getting rid of thatch means chinch bugs will no longer have a place to thrive until they completely infest your lawn.
It is crucial to allow your lawn to completely dry out between watering sessions for proper grub control.
You may also use a milky spore powder, a natural organism for controlling grubs.
Insecticides are usually a last-resort measure because the toxic chemicals they contain may cause runoff into nearby bodies of water.
Insecticides may also harm your yard’s population of beneficial insects, which will make your Bermuda grass lawn more susceptible to unwanted pests in the future.
Remove Pet Waste
All pet waste needs to be removed right away to keep dog urine or feces from making your Bermuda grass turn brown.
While dog feces are easier to scoop up and place in a bag, removing dog urine is more challenging.
It may not be possible to completely remove the urine from your lawn, but you will be able to dilute it with enough water to prevent it from causing brown spots on your lawn.