Why Does My Grass Turn Brown in the Fall?

Why Does My Grass Turn Brown in the FallMany people love the natural beauty of the color-changing leaves in the fall, especially in such a tree-rich area as metro Atlanta. But one part of the landscape that isn’t at its best this season is grass. As the temperature cools, our grass loses its beautiful green color and takes on a brown, straw-like hue. Why does this happen, and is there anything you can do in terms of lawn care to stave it off?

As many Atlantans who have lived up north in the past have discovered, different geographical areas tend to use different types of grass, because each type of grass thrives in a specific climate. Homeowners in the northern US (and other areas with harsh winters) use cool season grasses, which can withstand their low temperatures. In Atlanta and other southern states, however, our climate is best suited to warm season grasses, which are more resilient to the drought and heat that we are more likely to struggle with. While cool season grasses stay green throughout the winter, it is our warm season grasses which turn golden brown during the cooling months.

So what actually causes these types of grass to turn brown? While some homeowners worry that their grass is dying when they see the color begin to change, the good news is that it’s only going dormant. This is done as a defense mechanism, because these grasses do not thrive in cold temperatures as well as cool season grasses do. And while it doesn’t generally get cold enough in Georgia to kill the grass, the temperature does drop enough to send them into dormancy.

It’s understandable that homeowners aren’t thrilled with the color change in the fall and may then wonder if there is anything that can be done about it. Dormancy is necessary for the grass to survive, so there isn’t a way to prevent the grass from going dormant. However, in some cases, you may have the option of overseeding your grass with a cool season grass like ryegrass and enjoy some green in your lawn throughout the winter. Keep in mind that this is not necessarily a viable option for everyone and is dependent on the soil type, shading, maintenance requirements, and more, so it’s important to speak with a lawn care professional about your options before taking action.

Whether you choose to accept your lawn’s dormancy or give overseeding a try, being proactive about your lawn care now can help your grass return to its full, beautiful color and thickness in the spring. To discuss what you can do to keep your lawn healthy throughout all four seasons, schedule a lawn care consultation with our professionals at Turf Shield.