Why is my sod turning brown is something many of you ask us with great concern. Sod is pretty expensive to buy and install in any lawn patch. Naturally, it is worrisome for lawn owners to see it turning brown despite adequate lawn care.

Reasons of Sod Turning Brown

This article will discuss the ten main reasons why your sod might be turning brown and whether it can turn green again.

Why Is My Sod Turning Brown?

💥 Your sod is turning brown because it lacks water, or has been overwatered, the soil has excess nitrogen, or there may be air pockets under the soil. Additionally due to premature mowing, disturbance of pH, suffering from lawn disease, pest infestation, salty water irrigation, dog urination, or poor light condition. 

– Lacking Water

A freshly installed sod needs much more water than an established one to put down grassroots. Which means that you need to water your sod twice daily for the next month or two so that this consistency would hydrate your lawn properly, and it would thrive in the long run and not turn brown. 

Your aim should be to go deep watering, so the soil gets thoroughly hydrated. The key to deep water is to set the sprinklers at low settings and water for 20 minutes straight. This way, you allow water to soak the sod and the soil underneath without overwatering.

Even if you have a set watering schedule, you should keep checking your sod to ensure it doesn’t dry out, because the sod will lack in chlorophyll when it is not properly hydrated. New sod is especially prone to turning brown from under watering if grown near buildings, concrete, or asphalt. 

– Overwatering

Just as it has been mentioned how sod needs plenty of water initially to establish roots in the soil. On the other hand, as you irrigate the sod more than necessary, it will be overwatered. The latter is quite harmful because the excess water in the soil causes the roots to rot and to get weaker and more fragile. 

These roots will not be able to take in the nutrients and water the grass blades need for their growth. The roots are weaker in their state now and can quickly succumb to fungal infections like root rot and will see the entire sod turning brown.

Overwatering Can Damage Sod

It is very easy to see if overwatering is causing the sod to turn brown. On the other hand, the grass blades will be swollen, and the sod will be weirdly spongy. 

To prevent overwatering, you need to allow the first two inches of sod to dry before attempting to water it again. New sod needs to be watered daily, but once the roots establish themselves in the ground, you will need to water it only an inch per week. 

– The Soil has Excess Nitrogen

When the soil is exposed to being over fertilized, especially before a sod has had a chance to take root, this will cause brown spots to develop all over it.

Sure, nitrogen is an important mineral that grass needs so that it can grow and spread. Nonetheless, as you leave it to be overfertilized, this will lead to chemical burns and your entire lawn turning brown.

You may have added just a little bit and seen that the sod turned brown because of excess nitrogen, and this is because most commercial sods are already pre-fertilized before installation.

Hence, because of this reason, you should only start feeding it after two months once the grass has roots. During the starting two-month growth period, even slow-release fertilizers can be dangerous because it is still developing itself.

Nonetheless, even after your sod is well established and thriving, fertilize with caution. It is a mistake to use commercial fertilizers without diluting them to half their strength first. Natural options like compost or manure are possible to keep the grass green.

– Air Pockets Under The Sod

Poor installation is responsible for sod not adhering intimately to the soil underneath and forming air pockets between them. The grassroots will have difficulty accessing the water and nutrients underneath the soil. Naturally, the sod starts turning brown from malnutrition.

You will most likely face this problem when you get someone inexperienced to install a stall for you. No need to fret much about this, though.

Fresh Green Sod Ready to Plant

You can fix this issue in a few minutes by rolling a roller over the sod to flatten it over the soil well to release all the air pockets from underneath.

Another method to fix pockets of air is to use a spiked aerator. However, if the ground underneath wasn’t leveled and groomed well beforehand, you will have to call professional help to lift the sod and reinstall it properly.

– Premature Mowing

Many would claim that you can mow your newly installed sod after a week, on the contrary, we would never advise you to do anything of the sort. If you mow it too soon, you will soon have to deal with brown sod.

You need to give new sod at least three weeks to establish its roots well within the soil. However in order to be more precise, you can conduct a test to confirm your roots have grown well underground before mowing. Just by a tug in the grass, and you will feel proper resistance from the roots.

In any case, note that you should not mow fresh sod too soon or too short. Keep the grass blades at a maximum height of three inches, and preferably use a walk-behind push-type mower.


– To Disturbed Soil PH

Any minor inconvenience bringing the soil pH up or down may cause your sod to brown. It is very important that the soil pH ideally be around 66.5 to 7.0 for the grass to take root. 

That is why you must conduct extensive soil testing before laying sod and adjust the soil accordingly. Nonetheless, it may be possible to carry out soil testing and amendment by yourself, and in addition, you may even also contact a professional soil installers if you want the best results.

– Suffering From Lawn Disease

Brown sod grass can be caused by lawn disease produced by fungi or bacteria. Sod needs to be watered twice daily for the first two months, and even slight miscalculations during this time might produce overwatering.

Suffering Sod From Lawn Disease

Overwatered sod soon becomes a fertile breeding ground for microbes infecting the roots. A sign of sod infection is that it will be mushy with a faint smell or rot emanating from the ground. A yellow-colored ring will faintly outline each brown patch.

In most cases, a dying sod infected by fungus and bacteria will be difficult to save. You can use commercial fungicides or a natural solution such as neem oil grass spray. 

– Pest Infestation

Your sod is always at risk of getting infested by various pests such as sod webworms, mites, etc.

These pests especially like the minute space between the sod and the soil and lay lots of eggs there and the lush green grass would start getting weaker eventually and turn brow in the long run because of the pests that have developed their growth, and they are growing in this medium.

The thing about pests is that they multiply to large numbers and then quickly deprive the growing sod of all its food. Patches of dead grass and brown spots develop all over the sod in such a case, as it will begin by switching the green color as it degenerated and turns into brown first.

Remember that while buying sod, make sure to buy the highest-quality one and check beforehand whether it is pest-free. You may wish to spraying insecticide within seven days of installing your sod is also advisable, to make things easier and not to go through hardship. 

– Using Salt Water

People who live in coastal areas might suffer from brown sod because of salty water. Only a handful of grass types can tolerate being watered with saline water. Most common grass types are sensitive to excessive salt in water and will turn brown if continuously watered with it, because the roots will be harmed. 

Salt Water Can Recover Brown Sod

Salt water acts as a chemical solution that burns grass blades. It also adds too much sodium into the soil, dehydrating the grassroots and producing sodium toxicity. 

We understand that getting fresh unsalted water for your sod every week might be an additional hazard. However, you can always consider using distilled water, because it is the healthiest type for grass and plants and is our top tip for maintaining a healthy sod.

– Dogs May Have Urinated

Random yellow and brown patches on the lawn after your dog plays around can be only due to one thing. If your dog is not trained and has a habit of peeing on the sod as per its wishes, then your sod is at risk. Dog urine has very high concentrations of nitrogen, urea, and uric acid, along with several other toxins expelled from the body. 

However, in its undiluted form, dog urine can cause chemical burns to even a properly established sod and discolor the green lawn. You must provide some trainings your dog not to urinate anywhere on the sod is the long-term solution to this problem. Keep a close eye on it until it gets trained so. 

However, when you catch it urinating on the sod or feel like it has, and you didn’t see it, you must wash it off immediately using a large volume of water. Add a teaspoon of baking soda to one gallon of water and wash off urine. Note that baking soda is a time-tested antidote against both human and dog urine on the sod.

– Poor Light Conditions

You must be aware of the type of grass making up your sod and determine its light needs. One often overlooked reason for grass turning brown is too much or too little light.

Poor Light Condition Affects Sod

Sod placed in an area that receives partial or indirect light will suffer. It will turn either yellow or brown and might even begin to die. In such areas, you need to plant shade grass tolerant. 

Sometimes when the temperatures are too high, and the soil is undergoing drought, bright sunlight will burn dehydrated grass blades. This is when you will see how they turn brown and wilted unless, of course, it has been watered thoroughly. 


Here are some of the reasons for the signs your sod is dying, and here is a brief conclusion as to why your sod may turn brown:

  • Poor watering habits are the prime reason why sod might turn brown.
  • Overfertilizing sod also turns it brown, and so does use salt water, as both cause chemical burns.
  • Dog urine, pests, and fungal infections damage to grass and produce a nasty discoloration.

After reading this article, you know the ten main reasons sod discolors and how to solve all these problems. You will never have to deal with brown and diseased sod again. 

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