Lawn Care 101: Reviving Dormant Grass—What to Know

September 16, 2020
Est. Reading: 3 minutes

One critical aspect of lawn care is knowing the difference between dormant grass and dead grass, especially when temperatures reach extreme highs or lows. 

This distinction is essential because dead grass will need to be replaced, incurring significant fees in buying new grass and the labour required to do the replacement. Meanwhile, dormant grass can still be revived, albeit with varying levels of success. 

When your grass enters dormancy, it is trying to conserve its energy by concentrating what remaining nutrients and moisture it has in keeping its crown—the plant’s connective tissue responsible for producing new grass—alive.

Before talking about how to revive dormant grass, you can try these two simple tests to determine what’s dormant and what’s dead:

Tug Test

As mentioned above, dormant grass will appear dead as it concentrates its resources on preserving the crown. However, this means that its roots should still be actively absorbing moisture and nutrients from the soil! 

To do a tug test, try to moisten the surrounding soil of a particular patch that you want to test first, and slowly but deliberately yank some grass off the ground. Dead grass will have little to no resistance, as its roots are no longer holding the soil. Meanwhile, dormant grass will display a bit more give and will feel like pulling on fresh grass. 

Irrigation Test 

The best way to test for dead grass to simply increase irrigation for a few days. Dormant grass will respond to water; dead grass, however, will not. 

If you are sufficiently sure that your grass is just dormant, these four methods should help revive your lawn. 

Continue watering

The lack of irrigation during hot summer months can cause your whole lawn to lie dormant in anticipation of less rain. To combat this natural adaptation, you can increase the volume and duration of your irrigation system. 

Remove Weeds

Weeds can compete with your grass for nutrients, making it good lawn care practice to pull them out whenever you can. The grass is generally easy to differentiate from weeds, as the grass will always have thicker and more uniform blades. Meanwhile, weeds come in several shapes and sizes and may even have telling differences, such as flowers and longer stems. 

Weeds will be even easier to spot if your grass has gone dormant, since they will typically still look alive and thrive in harsh conditions. 

Aerate your lawn 

Aerating your lawn by perforating it with small holes allows air, water, and nutrients to reach your grass’s roots for easier absorption. 

Aerating your lawn can be done by merely poking holes using common gardening tools, such as a rake or a shovel. However, these tools are less effective and can even cause more compaction around the holes. Most lawn care services use a plug aerator, which removes uniform plugs of soil from the ground. 

Add Fertilizers 

There’s nothing wrong with giving your lawn a little bit of help with fertilizers. Depending on your lawn’s issues, you may need a fertilizer with a combination of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. If you’re not sure, it’s best to consult your preferred lawn care service provider for help.


Reviving dormant grass, like all things in lawn care, can be a very involved process. If you don’t have the time and equipment, or simply don’t want to take chances, you can always count on expert lawn care services who have the necessary equipment and experience to keep your lawn looking beautiful throughout the year. 

Are you looking to get your dormant grass taken care of? Lawn Care Alert provides lawn mowing services in Oakville and other towns in Ontario, Canada. Our services include mulching, weed removal, landscaping, fertilizing, and aeration, among others. Contact us today to get a free quote! 

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