Why is My Grass Dying in Patches?

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Is your lawn covered in dead patches and you’re wondering what the cause of the problem could be? Browning grass is one of the first signs that there is something wrong, with the browned grass blades eventually dying off and failing to regrow, leading to sparse growth that looks terrible and is an open invitation for unwanted weeds and moss. View our article on choosing the best moss killer and out guide on strong weed killer.

There can many reasons why your grass is dying in patches. Sometimes it’s down to poor lawn maintenance while other times it is completely out of your hands, so let’s take a closer look at some of the most common reasons why your grass is dying in patches:

Animal Urine

Animals could be using your lawn as a toilet, with some telling signs of animal urine including large grown circles on the grass. This is surrounded by thicker, more vibrant growth on the outside, with the inner ring eventually dying off and causing a patch.

If you don’t own pets then it’s likely down to an unwanted visitor like a neighbour’s cat, while feral cats and even foxes could be the culprit.

Try watering the area to rinse away the urine, while using preventive measures such as animal repellents may help scare them away before they get to your lawn. If the damage is already done, you will need to dig up the soil in the area and reseed.

Mower Leaks

If you use a petrol lawn mower – or any petrol tools – then there is a chance that they leak fuel and/or oil as you cut the grass, even just from just pouring it into the engine before you start. This leads to random patches of grass dying off across the entire lawn, which can be a bit of nightmare if left untreated.

Always make sure that you add fuel and oil away from the grass to avoid any spilling, while you should get any equipment you use on the lawn checked for leakages if the problem persists. Again, over seeding is needed to encourage regrowth.

Tree Roots

If there are trees near your lawn then their root systems could be causing patches of grass to die off, with the three roots taking vital moisture and nutrients from the grass roots. You’ll notice this after dry periods, with brown grass developing on the lawn area beneath the tree.

There is not much you can do besides improve the soil conditions for better root development. This includes aerating and scarifying the lawn around the tree, which should improve drainage and allow moisture to reach deeper into the soil, ensuring enough water reaches the grass roots.

Residue from Cleaning Materials

If you’ve recently used powerful cleaning agents in the garden, such as a patio cleaner or decking cleaner, then there is a chance that residue from these products have been carried onto your lawn. It’s obvious is this has happened – the dead patches should be roughly the size of your feet!

Just try to be extra careful when using powerful cleaners near the lawn. It’s surprisingly easy to walk over these after cleaning and then carry it over to the lawn, so make sure you use old footwear when cleaning and swap them out before walking on your lawn.

Lawn Treatments

Yes, those products designed to feed and nourish your lawn can also cause patches to brown and die off! This is always due to improper use of the products, such using too much fertiliser, which leads to brown stripes developing throughout the lawn.

The best way to avoid this is by carefully reading the manufacturer instructions and following them to a tee. Don’t make the mistake of over fertilising to encourage the grass to regrow, as it can cause more damage than good.


If you mow the grass with the blade too close to the ground it can lead to all kinds of issues. Not only does it encourage weaker regrowth, it may scalp parts of the lawn, removing large chunks of grass and topsoil on raised parts of the lawn.

High spots on your lawn are often the main problem areas, so always make sure that you have a suitable blade height for the grass, never removing too much at one time and adjusting to accommodate uneven sections.

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