Shades of brown are a common sight in the fall season, from the fallen leaves that crunch under our feet to the bare tree branches that hang above our heads.

But brown spots in the grass during fall? They sure do stick out like a sore thumb! Plus, they can cause concern about the health of your lawn.

If you’re wondering what the deal is with the brown patches on your lawn, read on for a potential explanation.

Why Does Grass Turn Brown In Fall?

The short answer is lawns are either turning brown because winter is on its way, or there’s a different issue like a disease or poor maintenance.

Let’s get into more detail to figure out what’s going on with your lawn.

I have brown spots in my grass shaped like circles

Chances are, that’s brown patch disease. Brown patch can appear in lawns in early fall if it’s humid and temperatures are about 70 degrees and up.

Your lawn likely has brown patch if:

  • There are brown patches roughly shaped like circles that are up to several feet wide
  • In the center of the patch, the grass is green, creating a doughnut-like look

There are a few things you can do to relieve your grass of brown patch disease:

  • Only water your lawn if it’s dry. When you do water, plan to do it in the morning
  • Mow your lawn at the proper height (the sweet spot is 2-4 inches) and aerate your lawn if it has lots of thatch—a layer of dead grass that builds up between the soil and live grass
  • Talk to your local arborist about a fungicide to treat brown patch

My entire lawn turned brown in fall

If you live in a warm climate, there’s likely no need to worry. Warm-season grasses like zoysiagrass or bermudagrass turn brown in fall season to prep for winter. As temperatures cool down, warm-season grasses go dormant to protect themselves from winter elements, and then they’re back in action come springtime.

As long as your lawn is pretty evenly brown, and not covered in blotchy brown patches, you don’t need to be concerned.

I have bare brown patches of grass

That could happen for a number of reasons, like low mowing, heavy foot traffic or sunburned spots that are still lingering after summer. Overseeding helps restore lawns with problem areas. Depending on where you live, it might be best to overseed in fall right when you spot an issue. But first, check here to find out the best time to overseed the lawn in your region.

How To Proactively Prevent Brown Patches On Lawns

Staying on top of proper lawn care can really make a difference in the look and health of your lawn. If you want to get ahead of the game and stop brown spots before they start, look to these lawn care essentials:

  • Water a few times a week for a total of one inch of water per week. Always try to avoid over-watering your grass so you don’t create a moist, fungus-friendly environment. A good rule of thumb is to water in the morning so the grass blades can take the day to dry off
  • Mow to keep your lawn at a height of 2-to-4 inches. The best mowing height depends on the season
  • Fertilize the grass to keep it green and in good health. But, be careful not to cause fertilizer burn

The Best Time to Apply Lawn Treatments

The 2-to-3 weeks before winter elements kick in is the best time to treat your lawn with fertilizer. Read all about the benefits of fertilizing your lawn in fall here.

Want professional help with brown spot lawn treatment? Request a consultation.

Related Blog Posts

Snow Mold
Lawn Care & Maintenance

What Is This Whitish Gray (Or Whitish Pink) Fuzz On My Grass?

What is snow mold? It's a fungal disease that can create patches of whitish gray or whitish pink grass blades in late winter and early spring. Let's talk about how to prevent snow mold and how to get rid of snow mold in your home lawn.
Read More
Jap Beetle
Lawn Care & Maintenance

Have Japanese Beetles? Check & Control Lawn Grubs Now!

See Japanese beetles? Learn when to control and treat for grubs. In the Japanese beetle life cycle, they lay grubs. Look for symptoms of grubs now to prevent damage.
Read More

Sign Up For Free Tree & Landscaping Tips! 

Subscribe to the "The Sapling," the Davey Blog's email newsletter, for the latest tips to keep your outdoor space in tip-top shape throughout the year.

Plus, receive a free instant download of our landscape seasonal checklists when you sign up!

Two Employees
Two Employees

Get In Touch With Us!

We pride ourselves at Davey Tree on providing prompt, professional and personalized service from certified arborists that live, work and engage in your community. Contact one of our Davey Tree specialists for your residential, commercial, utility, or environmental needs.

Let's Find What
You're Looking For!