How to wake up dormant grass is the knowledge that all lawn owners should be well-equipped with. After a prolonged period of dormancy, brown grass needs a little nudge to help speed up the waking process.

How to Wake Up Dormant Grass

We requested our experts to give us time-tested hacks they swear by year after year. Keep reading, go through all these points and implement them in your lawn the next time your turf grass goes dormant.

How To Wake Up Dormant Grass?

To wake up dormant grass you must check the soil, aerate the soil, adopt a watering schedule, add fertilizer, get rid of any diseases it may have caught, and treat the pest infestation. In addition, cut and remove the weeds grown, don’t allow heavy foot trafficking, and use grass seed.

– Check The Soil Thoroughly

Before you embark on the journey of reviving dormant grass, you need to confirm if the grass is dormant or if it is dead. Unless you have been growing grass and sod for a long time, it becomes somehow confusing to distinguish between dead or dormant grass’ soil.

Most grasses turn yellow, dark brown, or purple when they undergo dormancy. Some rare grass species stay green as before when forced into dormancy. On the other hand, the dead grass is usually either brown, black, or gray.

Check the Soul Thoroughly

A tug test or lifting grass from the ground is more reliable for determining dead or a dormant grass soil. The roots of dead grass are typically rotten and not anchored properly. It is surely dead if a fistful of limp grass is pulled up from the ground without resistance.

Another way to determine if the grass is dead is to cut its blades below the surface. The exposed part of the dormant grass blade will appear moist, whereas the dead grass will appear dry. As you have discovered the dormant grass through the soil, you may now get prepared to wake it up.

– Aerate The Soil

After you have identified the soil and know that it is now dead, in order to bring a dormant lawn back to life, you need to aerate the soil first. You will see how soon the grass perks up and starts turning green when its oxygen, water, and fertilizing supply is opened up.

One easy approach is to dig holes four inches deep in the soil at a distance of every four to six inches. You can use any sharp and long law fork to carry out this form of aeration, however, to be on the safe side, make sure that you sanitize it first, to avoid any contamination or infestation into the grass to spread.

In addition, if you can get anyone to lend you a soil aerator, then this would make aeration more effective. A spike aerator would create holes in the soil just like a lawn fork, but in half the time. Plug aerators are considered to be more effective because they remove actual plugs of soil and are better at preventing compaction later. 

Aeration has many benefits to waking up your soil, from improving the soil’s drainage and aeration to freeing its nutrients. Aeration loosens the soil, prevents compaction, reduces thatch, and helps grow a lush lawn.

– Adopt A Strict Watering Schedule

Most grass types turn dormant during periods of drought when their water needs are not being fulfilled either from above or below the ground. That is why it’s no wonder that resuming a proper watering schedule will wake up the sleeping grass in no time. 

Depending on the grass type and how long it has been dormant, you can expect a lush green lawn within a week or two. You may start to irrigate your dormant lawn grass daily for one week to wake it up. 

Adopt a Watering Schedule

Afterward, note that most common turf grasses like Bermuda or fescue need only an inch of water every week to stay green and fresh, as they are in over coming the dormancy process. Note that the cleaner and more filtered the water that you use, the better. 

In addition, another way to water it would be using sprinklers, which is the best way to nourish dormant grass evenly and deeply.

Note that every time you turn the sprinklers on, set them so that all parts of the lawn get watered lightly for at least 20 minutes. This method of watering lightly for a while it is best for sandy or clay-type lawns that need more water for the grass to stay green. 

– Add Fertilizer 

When your grass’ natural dormancy period is over, it is only then that you need to wake it up using water and fertilizer. The same goes for grass that had to remain dormant because of drought or unsuitable environmental conditions.

Whenever it is time to wake any grass up, you need first to start watering it and only then fertilize it using a nitrogen-rich formula.

You dilute the liquid fertilizer before you pour it onto the lawn. Natural manure and compost do not need to be diluted, but it will take a few weeks to speed up the grass’s growth after dormancy.

However, it is very important to know that you should never fertilize perennial grass when it goes through its natural dormancy period, this is because the grass does not need it and instead gets badly burnt.

The warm-season grass types usually go dormant from early to late fall to early spring. Cold-season grasses typically go dormant in summer when temperatures rise high.

– Get Rid of Possible Diseases

A lot of plant diseases are responsible for grass turning brown from dormancy as they aren’t alive yet because pests could be in the soil or on top of it. Rust, brown or yellow patch diseases or root rot very commonly affect turf grasses. Any of these can be caused by either bacteria or fungi when the grass is not properly taken care of.

If your grass undergoes these diseases, it will turn mostly yellow and mushy. Over the course of time, the growth, or the rise from the dormant period of the grass will be impacted, and large empty patches might be seen randomly strewn across the lawn.

Get Rid of Possible Diseases

There are several natural remedies, and you can try them before resorting to harsher chemical insecticides. On the other hand, you may spread some neem oil which is a very keen ingredient when it comes to effective lawn care or getting rid of pests. 

Mix a tablespoon of neem oil and a tablespoon of vegetable oil in one gallon of water, and this would be the fix. Every week you may spray this mixture over the dormant and diseased grass as evenly as you can for at least one to two months.

– Treat Pest Infestation

It will be difficult to bring dormant grass back if it is infested with pests. When the grass blades are thin and wispy, it will be easier to spot many of these pests roaming under the leaves.

You may apply insecticide on the dormant brown grass, but this might be a bit risky because the grass hasn’t really come to life still. Grass blades, when not at their strongest, can easily get burnt by chemicals present in insecticides.

Instead, you can opt for a neem oil insecticide spray on the entire lawn and turf weekly. We also use our sprinkler for this purpose because it covers the whole lawn more evenly. 


– Cut and Remove the Weeds

Unless you have planted grass aggressively competing with weeds, most of your lawn maintenance will be dedicated to regular weed removal. If you see weeds popping up in the lawn here and there, then only getting rid of them will wake the dormant brown grass up.

The dormancy period might be the best time to carry out weed eradication because the grass is not growing during that time. The grass is also much thinner, which would help you pull out weeds much more comfortably.

Note that the best way is to use a weed puller to pull the weeds out in one go, along with their roots. It is important to pull the roots out, not just the grass blades; otherwise, new ones will grow back soon.

However, the end of the dormancy period is also the perfect time to apply an emergent selective herbicide on the grass when it is growing again. Even after this application, you must pull the dead weeds out. Once the weeds die, the grass will finally flourish because it has access to all the water and nutrition it needs.

– Don’t Allow Heavy Foot Trafficking

Don’t disturb grass when you want to wake a dormant grass into a green lawn. A grass-only goes into dormancy when it experiences unfavorable conditions. Of course, this means that dormant grass is naturally more sensitive and prone to getting damaged easily.

Whether you want to wake a grass up after drought or winter, it is time to restrict movement across it.

Heavy Foot Trafficking

Do not drive on it, walk on it or drag any piece of furniture across it. Do not allow pets to roam around such a lawn because not only will they crush grass blades, but their pee will also burn grass blades.

Note that as walking or running on the lawn would also causes the soil to become compact over time. Compact soil has poor water drainage and makes the grass prone to overwatering. The roots have no space to grow as much as they need and obtain nutrients.

– Use Special Grass Seeds

Note that sometimes grass turns brown and still it is dormant. Nothing can bring it out of dormancy except to sow specially mixed grass seeds and as they grow they will all rise together. It would be best to uproot the old lawn grass that refuses to wake up.

You can use a hoe, a rake, or a trimmer to pick up grass blades from the soil along with the roots. Once the old grass is gone, you need to loosen up the soil a bit. Mix fresh soil, sand, and some compost or manure with the topsoil.

Purchase special dormancy-resistant seeds of the grass variety of your choice. These hybrid grass mixes can tolerate various adverse conditions like prolonged drought and mild winters without going dormant. 


– How Much Time Does Grass Take To Turn Green After Waking Up?

It takes approximately 10 to 14 days for a dormant grass to wake up from dormancy. Once you completely wake the grass up, you will have to wait for one to two weeks for the grass to revive and regain its green color.

– Should Dormant Grass Be Raked?

No, dormant grass should only be raked once it is time for it to come out of dormancy. That is why we always suggest you rake perennial grasses in early spring once the winter dormancy period is over. 


So this was a brief guide on bringing your turf grass out of dormancy, and the key messages to take home are given below.

  • As soon as the natural dormancy period of grass is over, start watering it regularly and feeding it once a month.
  • Grass that has been dormant due to drought should be watered deeply every day for about one week.
  • Take advantage of the fact that the grass is dormant and eliminate all the weeds. 
  • You can use a selective herbicide or uproot the weeds from the roots.

If you have been struggling with constantly dormant grass, don’t worry about it. This guide contains all the important steps you need to take to bring it back to life within one to two weeks.

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