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How To Eliminate Brown Patches in a Lawn

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Foot Traffic Damage

Pedestrian traffic over an area can kill less hardy varieties of grass. It can also lead to soil compaction, which results in poor drainage and poor conditions for a lawn to thrive. This usually doesn't lead to brown patches so much as brown pathways.

Resolving this problem generally requires rerouting traffic or planting a hardy variety of traffic resistant grass. Rerouting traffic usually means putting a roadblock to make the path less traffic. It may be a fence, or something as simple as a few flowers to make it clear this isn't a path. Be sure to till the soil to uncompact it before replanting.

Pet Urine

Pets urinating on a lawn are depositing excess nitrogen into the soil. Nitrogen, just like in fertilizer; an excess leads to nitrogen burn. Prevention is the best practice.

If you see a pet urinate on your lawn, soaking the area with a couple of gallons of water will help to dilute the nitrogen and avoid a burn patch. For areas, that are already burned, the only treatment is to soak the area regularly for several days, or possibly longer to wash away the nitrogen. After that, reseed the soil. Also, perennial ryegrasses and fescues are more resistant than other varieties to burning caused by animal urine.


Irregular brown patches that grow slowly can be caused by a fungus. If treated promptly, the underlying roots may still be healthy and the lawn can recover. Treatment includes use of an appropriate fungicide. Long term improvement can be achieved by reducing the level of nitrogen used when fertilizing and by adopting more rigorous lawn care practices.

Diseases can be notoriously difficult to diagnose. If the treatment is not effective, contact your local county extension for information of how to submit a sample of your lawn for testing.

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