This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Bringing your lawn back to life

The health of your lawn can make a huge difference in how your yard looks. Learning how to revive dead grass will help you on your quest for a perfect lawn, whatever the problem. While you cannot revive completely dead grass, you can reseed it or take steps to save your grass before it’s too late. 

If your lawn is dry and brown due to a lack of hydration, it can be tempting to simply water it, but this may be prohibited if you are in a drought area. In the meantime, there’s plenty you can do to help revive your lawn. 

Is your lawn really dead? 

Reviving grass that’s completely dead just isn’t possible, but reviving yellowing or browning grass that’s struggling is achievable. Therefore, the first thing to ascertain is whether your lawn is really dead or just dried out and dormant. To protect itself against drought and other poor conditions, grass goes into a dormant state where it may appear dead but can be revived. It can be tricky to tell if the grass is dead or dormant by looking at it. If it appears dead, grab a small handful and try to pull it out of the ground. If you can easily pull it up without resistance, your grass is dead, and you’ll need to reseed. If you feel resistance when you try to pull it up, your grass is just in a dormant state that you need to address.

When to water your lawn

The most apparent solution to reviving grass that’s gone dormant due to hot, dry weather is to water it, but this isn’t necessarily the best idea. Lawns are often more resistant to drought if you leave them, rather than watering them intermittently. What’s more, there may be local restrictions on watering lawns to preserve much-needed water during dry spells. Grass can survive periods of 4 to 6 weeks without water, so your lawn will likely come back to its usual green lushness once you get some rain. If a drought in your area has lasted longer than this, you probably won’t be able to water your lawn anyway legally. Those who choose to water their lawn should aim to water it once every 10 to 14 days. Soak it until you see small puddles on the surface, using either a hose or a sprinkler system. Avoid watering in the hottest parts of the day, as much of the water will evaporate, and your lawn won’t see the benefits. 

How do you revive a brown lawn without watering it?


Dethatching rakes

Thatch in a lawn is a matted layer of dead grass and roots that builds over time. It can get tangled up with living grass stems and eventually kill or damage your lawn. Luckily, it’s easy to get rid of thatch in a lawn by simply raking it out. Regular rakes work for an average accumulation of thatch, but dethatching rakes are available if a standard rake doesn’t work for you. Dethatching is a relatively labor-intensive process, so consider an electric dethatcher if you have a large lawn.


Grass needs air and water to get to its roots to grow properly. Over time, the soil your lawn is growing in can become compacted, ultimately not allowing enough oxygen, water and nitrogen to get to the roots of the grass. You can aerate your lawn using a tool that essentially pokes holes in your lawn. 

Mow carefully

If your lawn is still growing, continue mowing it, even if it’s yellowing or browning. To keep your lawn in good condition, never cut more than a third of the total height of your grass off when you mow your lawn. Mow it shorter in gradual increments if you need to. 


Fertilizer can help boost the overall condition of your lawn. Look out for different types of fertilizer, as some boost the health of browning lawns and others are for more general use.

Reseed dead patches

Grass seeds for dense shade

When you have patches of your lawn where the grass is completely dead, the only option is to reseed these patches. Start by preparing the spots you want to reseed by raking up thatch and loosening compacted soil so the seeds can more easily take root. Spread your grass seeds evenly over the area, thickly enough to cover it but not so thickly that seeds pile on one another. Rake them to spread them out and then water them lightly. Continue watering once or twice a day to keep them moist until the new grass has started to grow. If you have patches in shady parts of your garden, you can buy grass seeds for dense shade that will grow in semi-shady spots. For more information on seeds and reseeding, check out the guide to grass seeds at BestReviews.

What you need to buy to revive dead grass

Hooyman Landscape and Metal Bow Rake

Hooyman Landscape and Metal Bow Rake

This heavy-duty rake is the perfect tool for dethatching an average-sized lawn or patches of grass before reseeding. It’s comfortable to use and durable enough to last years.

Sold by Amazon

Truly Holey Manual Lawn Aerator Tool

Truly Holey Manual Lawn Aerator Tool

If your lawn needs aerating, this tool will help you out. The pronged design doesn’t clog, and the foot bar gives you the leverage you need to penetrate deep into the soil.

Sold by Amazon

Scotts Green Max Lawn Food

Scotts Green Max Lawn Food

This lawn fertilizer encourages greening and is used best in a spreader though you can apply it by hand if you need to.

Sold by Amazon

Scotts EZ Seed Dog Spot Repair

Scotts EZ Seed Dog Spot Repair

These grass seeds come mixed with mulch for water retention to help new grass sprout. This product fixes brown spots where dogs have urinated, but you can use it for any patches in your lawn.

Sold by Amazon


Want to shop the best products at the best prices? Check out Daily Deals from BestReviews.

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.