How to Fix Dead Spots in Bermudagrass

November 18, 2023


How to Fix Dead Spots in Bermudagrass

Bermudagrass is considered a warm-season grass that grows well in the hot, humid summers of the Southeast. 

It’s a fast-growing variety and can quickly fill in any dead patches. 

So, if you are noticing dead spots on your Bermudagrass lawn, something is wrong. 

To repair the dead zones, you must first determine the cause of the sites and then treat them appropriately.

Causes of Dead Spots in Bermudagrass

Dead, brown patches on a Bermudagrass lawn usually start as small circles. 

However, in the hot peak growing season, these spots can quickly grow and combine to create a patchwork of ugly dead grass. 

The first step to beating dead patches is determining the cause. 

Typically, dead spots in bermudagrass have one of four causes.

Fungal or Brown Patch Disease.

If you’re noticing brown patches on your lawn, one obvious culprit could be brown patch disease. 

While the name sounds like a broad description of a symptom, brown patch disease is a specific type of fungal infection. 

Other fungal infections can also cause brown, dead patches in your lawn. 

If you’re facing a fungal disease on your property, you must treat it with the proper fungicide for your condition. 

To do that, you need to know what disease you are treating. 

We’ll talk more about testing for illness later.

Soil Is Compacted

Dead Spots in Bermudagrass

Compacted soil is another common culprit when parts of your bermudagrass lawn die. 

Compacted soil doesn’t drain well. 

So when the soil is compacted, water from irrigation or rain can pool and suffocate the plant roots. 

Waterlogged turf roots can’t access the air and nutrients they need to grow and thrive.

Too Much Shade

Bermudagrass is a sun-loving turfgrass. 

While some varieties, such as TifTuf Bermudagrass, can withstand more shade than others, too much shade will kill any turfgrass. 

If you notice that parts of your lawn look unhealthy, look up. 

You may have found the answer if some trees or buildings create shade on your property. 

Without enough sunlight, bermudagrass can’t process the nutrients it needs to grow vigorous, healthy shoots and blades.

Bermudagrass requires 4 hours of direct sunlight each day. 

If your grass is getting less than that, it is not getting the opportunity to photosynthesize and create the energy it needs to grow. 

Turf that is not well-fed can stop growing. 

It is also more susceptible to drought, disease, and other stressors.

Your Grass is Dormant

Bermudagrass is a warm-season grass with a peak growing season from spring to fall. 

In the winter, when the weather is cooler, bermudagrass goes dormant. It loses its green color and may look dead. 

However, when spring arrives and brings warmer temperatures, a well-maintained bermudagrass lawn will green up for the warm season. 

TifTuf Bermudagrass has one of the earliest and most robust greens of any bermudagrass variety. 

So, if you’re looking for the greenest lawn, TiTuf is what you need.

Bermudagrass can also go dormant during the summer if the conditions are right. 

For instance, bermudagrass can be pretty drought-tolerant. 

However, as drought conditions continue, bermudagrass can go dormant to survive the dry conditions. 

TifTuf Bermudagrass is exceptionally drought-resistant, mainly due to its deep root system that can reach underground moisture. 

However, even TifTuf Bermudagrass will go dormant in dry conditions. 

But don’t worry. When irrigation or rain resumes, it will green right back up.

Treating and Repairing Dead Spots in Bermudagrass

If you know what is causing the dead spots on your bermudagrass lawn, you can start to treat the property to repair it. 

Different problems require different solutions. 

Here are some ways to address the most common causes of dead spots.

Treating a Fungal Disease

You must first know what fungus you are dealing with to treat fungal disease. 

Many garden stores sell generic fungicides to treat a broad range of fungi.

However, the best treatments require testing to determine precisely which fungus is infecting your lawn. 

To get your grass tested, take a sample and bring it to your local extension for testing. 

You should get results in about ten days to two weeks.

When you take a sample, you must include both diseased and nondiseased grass. 

To do this, find the edge of a brown or dead patch. 

Use a spade to cut out a 4×4 inch square of turf from that edge, being careful to get the whole root without cutting it. 

Half of your sample should be healthy grass, and the other half should be diseased grass. 

Once you have the selection, put it in an open paper or plastic bag to prevent drying. 

Keep it out of the heat or direct sunlight, and bring it to the extension as soon as possible. 

If you can’t get the sample to your extension that day, keep the sample refrigerated until you are ready to bring it in. 

Mondays and Tuesdays are ideal for getting your grass tested. 

Bringing in your selection early in the week—but not on the weekend—allows the extension to mail the model to the testing lab that same day and gives the lab time to process it without delay.

Once you get your results and know what disease you are fighting, go to your local garden store to find an antifungal pesticide made for the appropriate condition. 

Follow the directions for the amount of pesticide to use. 

Most fungicides require multiple applications, so know how often to apply them.

Loosening Compacted Soil

If your grass is suffering due to compacted soil, the solution is to loosen your dirt. 

To reduce the ground, you will need to aerate the entire lawn. 

The best way to aerate is with a high-quality core or plug aerator. 

A core aerator removes thumb-sized plugs of soil from your property. 

Making several passes over your lawn will open your grassroots to the air, water, and nutrients needed to grow and thrive. 

Loosening the soil also allows it to drain more effectively so that the roots are not suffocated and don’t rot.

If you have aerated your lawn and still have drainage problems, you may need to install extra drainages, such as a French drain or a dry creek bed. 

Grading your property can also help reduce pooling and improve runoff.

Reducing Shade

If your turf is suffering from a lack of sunlight, you must find a way to reduce shade. 

This may mean cutting back large trees and bushes. 

You may also consider selectively pruning and thinning large trees to allow more direct sunlight to reach your lawn. 

If you still can’t get enough light, you only have two choices: remove the trees or the property. 

If you decide not to remove the trees and can’t guarantee sufficient sunlight for turfgrass growth, replace the turfgrass with another type of ground cover.

What to Do When Your Grass is Dormant

If the weather is getting cooler and you notice brown spots growing across your bermudagrass lawn, nothing may be wrong. 

As the seasons run from fall into winter, your property will go completely dormant. 

During this dormant period, it will look dead, but it is still living. 

The roots underground are healthy, and new green blades will grow in the spring. 

A dormant lawn in the winter needs only minimal watering to stay healthy until the spring.

Look at the weather if it is still mid-summer and your grass is going dormant. 

If excessively hot and dry, your turf may be static to conserve nutrients and energy. 

It may be time to increase your irrigation schedule to guarantee that your turf has the water it needs to grow healthy green blades.

More on How to Prevent Fungal Diseases

The fungi that cause fungal diseases are always present in your soil. 

So, there is no way to treat, kill, or remove all of the offending fungi. 

Instead, you need to use appropriate cultural practices to reduce the likelihood of latent fungi becoming a fungal disease. 

Fungi can lay dormant on your lawn for months or years, and they will only become a problem under the right conditions.

Fungi take advantage of two conditions: high nitrogen and lots of water. To avoid fungal infections, you need to prevent these two conditions. 

Stay under-fertilized. Using too much nitrogen fertilizer will do nothing for your grass, but it will feed the harmful fungi. 

Also, be sure to water your turf sparingly. The best time to water is in the morning, so the grass has time to dry during the day’s heat. 

Avoid watering in the evening or at night. 

Also, make sure to let the ground dry out between waterings. 

It is better to water less frequently and deeper so that the soil does not remain saturated, and the roots are encouraged to grow deep to access more water. 

Aim to water at most once a week. 

Dead Spots in Bermudagrass

The soil should be moist five to seven inches deep after watering.

A Healthy Lawn Starts With the Best Turf

You must start with a suitable turf to grow a thick, healthy lawn. 

Bermudagrass is an excellent variety for the warm, humid summers of the Southeast. 

But not all Bermudagrass is the same. 

TifTuf Bermudagrass is the result of years of scientific study and effort, and it is available exclusively from the certified growers of the Turfgrass Group. 

You can find a grower in your area here.


Maintaining a lush Bermudagrass lawn demands understanding and addressing the underlying causes of dead spots. 

Whether it’s fungal diseases, soil compaction, insufficient sunlight, or dormancy, targeted remedies exist. 

Identifying the issue is the first step toward a vibrant, healthy lawn.


Q: How do I determine if my Bermudagrass has a fungal disease?

A: To diagnose a fungal disease, gather a grass sample, including healthy and affected parts, and have it tested at your local extension. Once identified, choose a fungicide tailored to combat the specific fungus.

Q: What can I do about compacted soil affecting my Bermudagrass?

A: Aeration is critical. Employ a core aerator to loosen the soil, allowing air, water, and nutrients to reach the roots. Consider additional drainage solutions if compaction persists.

Q: How can I address inadequate sunlight for my Bermudagrass lawn?

A: Prune or remove obstructive trees and shrubs to increase sunlight exposure. Opting for a different ground cover might be necessary if the light remains insufficient.

Q: Why does my Bermudagrass go dormant, and what should I do?

A: Dormancy is a natural response to extreme conditions in winter and during hot, dry periods. Minimal watering suffices during dormancy, and adjusting irrigation in hot weather aids grass survival.

Q: How can I prevent fungal diseases in my Bermudagrass?

A: Minimize nitrogen use and avoid overwatering. Water deeply but infrequently, preferably in the morning, allowing the soil to dry between waterings.

Q: What’s unique about TifTuf Bermudagrass?

A: TifTuf Bermudagrass, exclusive to certified Turfgrass Group growers, thrives in warm climates. Its resilience, especially in drought and early greening, makes it an excellent choice for a healthy lawn.

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