What the Lawn Is Trying to Tell You: Few lawn problems are as unsightly as seeing your lush, green lawn punctuated with large brown spots. There are several reasons for brown, or even dead spots in your lawn. Some are obvious, such as a dog doing its business on the grass, but others require a bit more detective work. Grass can turn brown if the soil’s pH is too high, meaning the soil is too acidic. You can test the pH and add nutrients, like lime or sulfur, which will correct the pH balance. But in extreme cases, you may need to replace the grass and soil altogether.
Soil test kits are sold online and in garden shops; Both battery-powered digital meters and traditional manual test kits are available.
You can check your soil’s condition with this rudimentary DIY test:
+ Place a handful of soil into a clean container.
+ Add ½ cup of white vinegar.
+ If the soil starts to fizz, then it’s likely alkaline.
+ If there is no reaction, take a second container and add some fresh soil.
+ Pour into the container ½ cup of watermix well, then add ½ cup of baking soda.
+ If the soil begins fizzing, then the soil is likely acidic.
+ If there’s no reaction to either test, then the soil has a neutral pH.
+ If the soil is acidic, amend it with pulverized lime or wood ash. If the test proves the soil is alkaline, amend it with sulfur or pine needles.
If the pH or some other factor, like improperly applied toxic herbicide, isn’t causing the brown spots, then the culprit might be a physical obstruction. “A lot of times, an inch or so below the soil there can be a rock or stone, causing the roots to dry up,” Adam Cain, the vice president of Ryan Lawn & Tree in the Kansas City area, tells Popular Mechanics. “You have to physically dig up the rock and remove it.”
If the brown spots only appear in one area of your lawn, check your sprinklers. You may need to adjust the sprinkler heads to get full coverage.