How to Wake Up Dormant Grass: 5 Simple DIY Methods

As a lawn owner, it is frustrating when your grass looks lackluster and totally refuses to grow. That is the reality many homeowners face on an annual basis. Often this happens during cold seasons such as winter and when there is extreme heat during the summer.

The good news is that you can use some simple techniques to wake up dormant grass and make it green again. Basically, grass needs water, nutrients, sunlight, and a little more time to return to life.

As you read on, you will understand what you need to do on your grass to get back the green.

How to Wake up Dormant Grass (5 Simple Steps)

1. Aeration

Aeration is important because it helps promote rapid and even growth prevent disease, minimizes compaction from an intensive foot or vehicle traffic, reduces thatch, and helps maintain a strong lawn.

The aeration holes will open up, allowing for drainage of oxygen into the root zone of your grass.

We recommend aerating dormant grass by pulling a garden fork in the soil up to 4” deep in 4-6” intervals for the best results. This will improve water, air, and nutrient absorption into the roots of your lawn.

The process of aeration can be time-consuming but necessary over time to help you have a healthy lawn.

But if you decide to invest in of these commercial lawn aerators it will be easy peasy for you

2. Give the Grass Some Water

Proper watering is critical to ensuring a healthy and attractive lawn. While dormant turfgrass plants have less root mass, they do not stop absorbing water or nitrogen.

Keep your grass moist during the summer by watering every morning before the sun is hot– at least 1 and 1.5 inches of water each week.

The method of watering depends on climate conditions.

Sprinklers cover more ground than any other system and are ideal for areas that require large quantities of water like clay soil or sandier soil types.

This because the soils need a lot more moisture to stay viable for years to come.

How do grass bubbles happen

3. Add Some Fertilizer

Grass doesn’t sleep; it’s just resting before it grows again! That means the soil needs to be healthy and full of nutrients for the new shoots to sprout so they can continue maturing into a healthy lawn. Grass shoots need these nutrients to grow.

Adding nitrogen-based fertilizer will help ensure that your grass has everything it needs for a good start when the warmer weather kicks in.

However, you should limit adding fertilizer to dormant grass during the summer to only when there is water availability.

4. Remove Weeds

One of the most common ways on how to wake up dormant grass is weed removal. The best time to remove weeds is when the grass isn’t growing, so you don’t accidentally loosen and reseed weed seeds.

You have more control over where you pull weeds in dormant turf than if it was actively growing because of the better access to the soil without interference from grass blades.

To remove weeds from dormant grass, it is essential to pull up the entire root system of the weed. This includes pulling out by hand or using tools such as a cobrahead weeder.

Pulling off just the surface leaves provides an opportunity for re-growth and makes it more likely that your lawn will be infested again by weeds.

Benefits of ryegrass

5. Reduce Traffic on the Dormant Grass

A general recommendation to reduce the traffic on dormant grass would be to avoid walking or driving on it. Masses of people stomping and tramping on lawn, can cause structural damage to the soil.

Compaction of the soil will mean that roots cannot draw up water. This leads to over-wetting during rainstorms which in turn kills the roots.

Dead vs. Dormant Grass

The primary difference between a dead and dormant grass blade is the color. Dormant blades can be green, yellow, or purple, while a dead blade will be brown or gray.

Dormant blades are alive but unresponsive to conditions, while dead blades have died some time ago and are no longer functional.

To determine if a blade of grass is actually living or not, cut it with a pair of scissors from just below the surface so that you do not damage any roots.

Once cut, turn the blade over and scrutinize it; touching the newly exposed upper side should feel moist rather than rough like wood or other dead material.

Dormant Grass Recovery

Dormant grass recovery is when lawns get their green color back after the browning from winter or summer.

Grass blades react very quickly to moisture in the air or ground, changing shape and height according to the amount of water they’ve just absorbed.

When it’s cold and dry outside, an area of grass that looks dead may be actually waiting for some rain before it recovers again. If winter has been cold but wet, then expect grasses on your lawns and all across nature’s yard to light up soon too.

How to Bring Grass out of Dormancy

One of the best ways to get your grass growing again is by adding nutrients, water and giving the soil some air. However, there are other methods that are just as effective.

  • Apply mulch on top of the ground to conserve water and maintain soil temperatures at a level that is high enough for growth.
  • Irrigate Low lying areas frequently during sweltering days or when rainfall is less than expected.
  • Using Special Grass Seeds to Get Your Lawn Green Again. If your lawn is vast, it may be difficult for natural methods alone to bring grass out of dormancy. In this case, the best way to go about it is by using special grass seeds designed specifically to revive damaged or dormant lawns. Simply scatter these seeds over your entire yard and then water them regularly until they have germinated and grown a few inches tall.

Dead grass under inflatable pool

As an instant and safer alternative, you can also add chemical products to the soil to stimulate growth. These include:

  • Specially formulated lawn food products contain fertilizer, herbicides, and even grub control ingredients—all in one 3-in-1 type product that can help your lawn look greener in one application.
  • If the chemical residue contained by these products is not acceptable, use synthetic fertilizers instead. However, remember that synthetic fertilizers must be used per the manufacturer’s instructions to prevent damage from occurring to the grass. [
  • yard vacuum for pine needles

FAQs On Bringing Grass Out of Dormancy

Will Watering Dead Grass Bring It Back?

Wetting dead grass will have little to no effect on bringing it back to life. Dead grass is poor at absorbing water and nutrients because its cells are no longer functional. Continued exposure to harsh climatic conditions destroys chloroplasts.

Chloroplasts store necessary sugars that keep the plant alive when water and other nutrients are cut off. Without chloroplasts, the grass no longer produces the sugars essential for life.

Also read: At what time does grass grow?

Is my Grass Dormant or Dead?

To find out if your grass is really dead or just dormant, hold a hose to each blade at different spots in the yard.

A normal blade will perk after getting wet, but a dead one should remain brittle even after heavy watering.

Dormant grass blades may seem dead, but they can revive with an early spring soaking and a few days of warm weather.

Soaking weakens cell walls, causing them to burst open and absorb water when temperatures climb above freezing.

Also: When can you walk on new grass?

How Long Does It Take Dormant Grass to Turn Green?

It takes about 3-4 weeks for the dormant lawn to turn green again. 

However, the type of grass and the quality of care are essential factors to consider.

But the most critical part is that dormant grass needs adequate sun exposure for photosynthesis to take place.

During photosynthesis, the leaves produce chlorophyll which is the green coloring matter in plant leaves.

Also read: Does grass grow faster when cut short

Should I water dormant grass?

You should water dormant grass.

The grass is a yearly plant and goes dormant in the winter to survive being exposed to wind, frost attack, and moisture drainage during the summer months, but enjoys lush feeding during spring/fall.

Why is my grass drying even though I water it?

One possibility is Rhizoctonia Solani.

This fungus presents light brown patches of discolored grass surrounded by a bright green ring, which you can see with the naked eye.

In addition, the discoloration likely indicates that one or more food sources are not available to the grass.

Do you need to water dormant grass in winter?

Your grass needs water throughout the year, especially for young shoots that haven’t yet established a strong root structure.

Grass becomes dormant during the winter; however, it survives when it receives enough moisture to keep its roots alive underground.

Will spray paint wash out of grass?

Dormant grass is alive but unresponsive to conditions, while dead grass died some time ago and is no longer functional.

However, if you are looking for ways on how to wake up dormant grass, the points outlined in this blog post will help.

After reading these tips, we hope you feel empowered and confident about what needs to be done the next time dormant blades start appearing on your lawn.

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