A dry lawn in Toronto

Why Is My Lawn Dry?

In Toronto and elsewhere, a dry lawn can be a result of many issues. This article outlines the common causes of dry lawns and ways to fix them.

What to Know About Dry Lawns

Why Is My Lawn Drying Out?

Your lawn is drying out mainly because of insufficient moisture and improper care. Some of the reasons your grass may not get enough water include drought and incorrect watering practices. Other factors that could be responsible for dry lawns are diseases, pest infestation, and pet urine. Let’s further discuss each reason for dry lawns.


Drought is one of the most common causes of lawns drying out. Grasses and other plants in the affected area lose water after a prolonged period of little to no rain, causing the leaves to wilt and become less rigid. The leaves then also turn crunchy, tan, or brown.

Fortunately, most grass varieties are resilient and can survive extended periods of drought despite looking dry, brown, and limp. They’re alive as long as the crown still looks green and the roots have a healthy off-white color. But if the entire plant, including the leaves, roots, and crowns, are brittle and brown, you should prepare for reseeding; the lawn is already dead.

Inadequate Watering

Proper watering is one of the keys to growing a lush, green lawn. Not doing it right can lead to many issues, including lawn drying. While overwatering can encourage shallow root growth, the real issue to avoid is underwatering. A dehydrated lawn becomes weak and brittle. Even in a relatively rainy area like Toronto, relying on rain to keep your lawn lush is a losing strategy. Implementing an irrigation system is a great way to keep your lawn watered even during dry spells. If you do use a sprinkler system, however, make sure it fits your lawn’s requirements so you don’t end up wasting water and money.

At LawnMart, our watering advice is this: Water your grass once per week for four hours on each zone from May 1st to Sept 1st.

Lawn Diseases

Lawns can also dry out when struck with illness. In summer, one disease that affects lawns is brown patch disease. It is commonly caused by Rhizoctonia solani and is likely to develop in cool-season grasses. However, it can also affect a variety of warm-season grasses. Brown patch is a foliar disease, which means it only affects grass blades and not the roots or crowns.

Infected areas appear as irregular circular patches that are brownish-yellow. Affected leaves usually stay upright. If the grass is entirely dead, the patch appears sunken. It is critical to treat the illness immediately as it can spread via grass clippings or foot traffic.

Pet Urine

Have you been letting your furry companion pee on your lawn? That’s probably why you see dry patches on your lawn. A dog’s urine contains all kinds of elements, including nitrogen. Nitrogen is generally good for your lawn because it is one of the main ingredients in most fertilizers. However, too much of it can damage the grass.

Urine spots usually begin as dark green patches and eventually turn brown or die as the dog continues to pee on the same spot. Female dogs tend to cause more damage because of the way they pee. Unlike male dogs that lift their legs to pee on standing surfaces, dispersing their scent, female dogs squat and urinate on one concentrated spot.

Pest Infestation

Lastly, your lawn may be drying out because of pest infestation. Irregular patches that turn brown in summer despite proper watering indicate chinch bug infestation. Chinch bugs are tiny critters that feed on lawn grass during the hot summer.

Chinch bugs do not just feed on the grass but also kill it by injecting a toxin that prevents the plant from absorbing water. Grasses become dehydrated, turn brown, and die as a result. A lawn infested with chinch bugs can look like it is experiencing a drought. Fortunately, it’s easy to distinguish one from the other. A chinch bug’s damage, unlike drought damage, is uneven. And when you walk on the infested area on your lawn, you’ll smell something odd because the bugs emit a strange odor when crushed.

How Do I Stop My Lawn from Drying Out?

Here are a few things you can do to minimize the risk of your lawn drying out:

  • Consider planting a drought-tolerant grass variety, such as Bermuda grass or tall fescue. Native grasses are also a good option because they handle your area’s weather patterns well.
  • Improve soil quality before installing your turf. Perform a soil test to identify the nutrients the soil lacks and amendments you have to make.
  • Avoid fertilizing your lawn during a drought because it can do more harm than good. Once the weather and soil conditions are optimal for fertilizing, apply just the right amount to avoid fertilizer burns.
  • Learn and practice proper watering techniques. LawnMart always recommends watering your lawn once a week for four hours in each zone from May to September. You should water before the sun rises or sets so water does not immediately evaporate.
  • Consider investing in smart irrigation systems for efficiency.
  • If you have dogs, create a designated bathroom spot away from your lawn. You can encourage your furry friends to do their business in an area with stone or compost that will not be destroyed by urine. And if your four-legged companion pees on the grass, thoroughly rinse the spot with water to prevent the grass from soaking up nitrogen.
  • Dethatch your lawn. The fungus that causes brown patch disease lives in the soil and thatch. Removing excess thatch in your lawn can reduce the chances of the fungus growing and damaging your grass.
  • Ensure your lawn is properly maintained to make it more resistant to pest infestation. Mow the lawn consistently (once per week) at 7cm to 8cm tall, and bag the clippings. Aerate compacted soil. Fertilize properly, and when you notice a problem, immediately address it.

What Should You Do if Your Lawn Is Always Dry?

When the lawn is dry, one of the first things that probably comes to mind is to water it more. But as discussed above, many issues result in a dried-out lawn. Lack of enough water is just one of them. It could be because a pest is sucking the grass dry, a fungus is turning the grass leaves brown, there is too much nitrogen—the list goes on.

You need to determine the root cause of the problem. A professional lawn care expert with years of experience should be able to identify the cause of lawn dryness and offer effective solutions.

Find Out How LawnMart Can Help

Determining why your lawn is drying out can be challenging and confusing. But don’t worry—LawnMart is here to help. Our team of experienced lawn care experts can determine the cause of the dryness on the first visit. You can also count on our team’s recommendations for getting your lawn back in shape.

If you haven’t had professional service for your lawn, now is the time to consider it. With a professional lawn care service, you can be sure your lawn stays healthy and capable of resisting the effects of high heat in the summer.

Find out what we can do for your lawn this season. Contact us for more information or a free quote.