Dead grass vs Dormant grass: What to do?

Many lawns across Australia will at some stage suffer from drought or water restrictions – but how do you tell if your lawn is Dormant or Dead?

In Australia, most lawns are warm season grasses meaning they are very hardy and need very little water to survive.

Warm season grasses include Buffalo, Kikuyu, Couch and Zoysias. These grasses in times of heat stress and water shortage enter a state of dormancy.

Dormant or Dead?

When temperatures are high turf naturally enters a state of dormancy where they start to shut down tissue growth to prevent moisture loss.

So, dormancy is the natural survival mechanism that allows your turf to stay alive longer when under stress.

Generally, most warm season grasses will sit dormant until the next watering or rainfall.




How Do You Tell if Your Lawn is Dormant?

Most importantly – the difference between dead and dormant turf is found by looking at the lawn’s crown at the base of the leaves.

The crown generally sits at the soil line and is also where the shoot and root section of the grass meet.

The turf’s crown is a highly active growing point that pushes the stem (the leaf blades) upward.

If the lawn’s crown is white to off white, then there is a high chance that the plant is still alive (see image).

A dead lawn appears dry, brown and brittle across the plant from the leaves down to the base of the crown.



General Survival Tips for Your Lawn During a Drought

Looking for other ways in which you can help your lawn survive the drought?  Here are additional tips that you can do to help your lawn survive. 

1. Remove all organic litter

Remove all dead organic material for your lawn such as thatch, leaves, bark and dry tree branches.

2. Aerate

Aerating is a vital part of keeping your lawn healthy during prolonged dry conditions and drought

Aerating, with either a pitchfork or aerating machine, improves the passageway for water and nutrients to reach the lawn’s roots.

More Info: Aeration

3. Reduce lawn traffic

Try and stay off your lawn as it is already under stress from lack of water.

The best way to ensure your lawn recovers from lack of water is by not adding any stress through wear and tear.

4. Water thoroughly and deeply less frequently

Your lawn shows signs of needing water when the leaf blades start to wilt.

By watering your lawn thoroughly and deeply you encourage the development of strong root growth in your lawn.

The lawn stays moist and hydrated for longer when watered deeply.

If you are short of water only water parts of the lawn that are drying out and under stress.

It is advised to water your lawn early in the morning between 6 am and 10 am for between 10 and 15 minutes.

Evening watering can induce humidity to occur overnight resulting in fungal problems.

If water restrictions occur in your region, make sure you adhere to the watering requirements based on your restriction level – check with your local water authority for more details.

More Info: Watering Lawn Tips

5. Grey Water

Grey Water is a very viable alternative to watering your lawn during summer or more importantly water restrictions.

Connecting a hose to your grey water outlet and letting it seep into the lawn is an ideal method of watering.

Grey Water consists of wastewater from your showers, baths, spas, hand basins, laundry tubs, washing machines, dishwashers and kitchen sinks.

Grey Water does not include the water from your toilet.

Read more: How to use Grey Water on your Lawn

6. Apply a Wetting Agent

Apply a wetting agent to your lawn to improve water absorption.

After long periods of dry, lawns become dehydrated and the soil struggles to absorb water.

A wetting agent helps break down the soil’s surface tension and allows water to soak through.

7. Mowing

The rule of thumb when mowing is to not cut your lawn more than 1/3 of the grass blade.

In summer you should raise the height of the mower. During a drought, it is essential to keep your lawn’s blade longer to allow the plant a fighting chance of survival.

More info: Mowing Lawn Tips

Recommended Products

LawnPride HydraMaxx 2L Hose On

LawnPride HydraMaxx 2L Hose On is an ideal liquid Soil Wetting Agent used when watering is restricted and easily clicks onto the end of your hose. LawnPride HydraMaxx 2L Hose On is suitable for use on ZoysiaKikuyuCouch and Buffalo grasses. Always read the safety directions and instructions on the product label before use.


LawnPride HydraMaxx 5L Concentrate

LawnPride HydraMaxx 5L Concentrate is an ideal liquid Soil Wetting Agent used when watering is restricted. LawnPride HydraMaxx 5L Hose On is suitable for use on ZoysiaKikuyuCouch and Buffalo grasses. Always read the safety directions and instructions on the product label before use.


Free Lawn Guide

Sign up for our Newsletter to receive your free guide.

View our Privacy policy

See More Articles About:

Share Article:

Related Articles

Gypsum for your Lawn

Gypsum has a two-pronged approach in terms of looking after your lawn. Also known as Calcium Sulfate, Gypsum, is successfully used to improve lawn soil conditions. It can be ...

Read More

When to use a soil wetting agent

Your lawn needs just three things to stay healthy and green – sunshine, a balanced diet, and water – but making sure it gets the right amount of each at the right time can be ...

Read More

What are plant growth regulators?

Some people are happy to take their lawns as they come. But if you’re looking for a way to ensure greener, thicker grass, with less mowing, then you might like to consider ...

Read More

When to apply pre-emergent herbicides

Rather than waiting until weeds appear in your lawn before you decide what to do about them, it’s usually best to plan how you’ll manage them ahead of time. Think prevention ...

Read More

What is herbicide?

The simple answer to that question is herbicides are chemicals that kill plants or prevent their seeds from germinating. This can be very handy when it comes to managing weeds ...

Read More

How to apply herbicides correctly

Herbicides are considered the most effective and efficient method of weed control for your lawn. Knowing how and when to apply a herbicide correctly will give you the best ...

Read More
lawn weeds

Selective vs non-selective herbicides

Looking for something to rid your lawn of pesky weeds? If your lawn is being overrun by weeds and pulling them by hand isn’t working, then a selective herbicide is your best ...

Read More

Just launched – our Lawn Care Shop

myhomeTURF’s new online shop offers some of the best lawn care products on the market that will prepare your lawn for every season. Along with our comprehensive Lawn Tip ...

Read More

How to repair your lawn

You’ve put a lot of effort into your lawn, but it doesn’t look as good as it should. Before you become disheartened, look at this checklist to see if there’s something else ...

Read More

Can you over fertilise your lawn?

In a word, yes! When it comes to lawns, applying too much fertiliser can be as bad as not applying enough. As well as being a waste of time and money, excess fertiliser can ...

Read More