RealEstate Ke > Landscaping > Can Grass Seed Burn Your Lawn? How To Prevent Dead Patches

Can Grass Seed Burn Your Lawn? How To Prevent Dead Patches

Sprinkling grass seed is a great way to create a lush green lawn, but did you know that it does not burn your lawn? Grass seed is safe for use in your lawn, and is an effective way to bring your yard back to life. But too much fertilizer, hot temperatures, dog pee, or weed infestation can lead to an ugly, patchy or brown lawn.

It’s important to distinguish between what a burned lawn looks like, why it appears that way and why grass seed may appear to have failed.

This article is going to explain why grass seed does not burn your lawn, how to avoid this issue, and a few precautions you should take to keep your grass seed and lawn healthy.

But first, here are the symptoms of burning and later we’ll discuss correct management practices.

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How do you know if your grass has burned?

Extreme heat, drought, over-fertilization and dog urine can damage the grass seed, or cause it to go dormant and not germinate. 

Fungal infections may also cause the grass to appear dead. 

In addition, the grass seed may have been mislabeled or of poor quality. 

Sometimes it can be hard to determine whether grass seed has been damaged or not, as it may not look dead yet. 

Some tips to determine if you have grass seed that has been damaged are:

  • curling blades of grass
  • defoliation in patches
  • uneven growth
  • stunted growth
  • browning and wilting of the grass blades
  • scorch marks on the lawn
  • dead grass
  • patches of brown, sandy soil between blades of grass
  • discolored areas near leaves, stems or root zones
  • spotted, mottled or irregular areas on your lawn
  • grass smells like a compost heap, ammonia or sulfur (Also Read: Can I Use Aquatic Compost for Normal Plants?)
  • root rot or discoloration

Can grass seed burn your lawn?

No, grass seed does not burn lawns. 

In fact, grass seeds are used to create lush, green lawns and prevent weeds and crabgrass from overgrowing by suppressing growth further away from the seed. 

Related: Mow Lawn After Dethatching: 5 Tips for Faster Growth

Despite this, grass seed can be damaged by extreme heat and drought

Grass seed can also be over-fertilized, which can cause the grass to yellow, wilt and die back. 

Dog urine on lawns that have not been watered in a while – or at all – may also cause poor growth of your grass. 

Nutrient deficiencies and pests can also damage your lawn, and if it’s infested with weeds, the seed may not be able to germinate. 

In these situations, your grass seed can be salvaged by repairing the conditions that caused the damage. 

Too much water can also damage your grass, which is why you should only water when necessary.

Will nitrogen burn my lawn?

Yes, adding nitrogen to your lawn will help it grow, but it can also cause burning if applied wrongly

Related: Overseeded Lawn Not Growing: Causes & How to Fix Them

Synthetic fertilizer prills that stick on grass blades are most likely to cause burned spots here and there on your lawn. 

Although nitrogen is associated with lush, dark green grass, it can also shrivel roots resulting in reduced ability to absorb water and flourish. 

In addition, when faced with high or low temperatures, the lawn will not hold out as well as it could have with lesser amounts of nitrogen added. 

Nitrogen toxicity can also be caused by:

  • atmospheric fixation (lightning)
  • haber process (chemical fertilization)
  • biological nitrogen fixation (Rhizobium and Actinobacteria)

Any natural or industrial process that adds nitrogen to the soil such as rain, composting, legume farming or leaching can produce nitrogen in excess. 

These processes can generate oxidative stress through free radicals that cause burn spots to appear.

What happens if you put too much grass seed down?

All plants need adequate soil space to grow, and grass is no exception. 

If you sow too much grass seed down at one time, your newly seeded lawn will not be able to grow properly because it will not have enough room to expand and establish itself. 

Sensitivity to light is the main limiting factor for germination. 

Once the seedlings reach a certain stage in development, however, they are fairly immune to light competition. 

But artificially encouraging more than the normal density of plant growth in a given area, or excessively thick sowing, will often result in poor germination, slow initial growth, and disappointing results. 

The struggle for nutrients, water, and light is too much for the desired grass to handle. 

So much that the faster-growing grasses or weeds will often out-compete the slower-growing ideal grasses, resulting in a patchy, unsightly lawn with too many clumps of light-sensitive grass seedlings.

How long does it take for burnt grass to recover?

Slow, uniform growth of grass seed is preferable to allow the seeds to germinate throughout the lawn. 

During this time, the lawn is in a dormant state that can not tolerate any sudden or drastic changes in temperature or precipitation. 

It will take 30 to 60 days for grass to recover from a burn, and natural environmental conditions will have to be taken into account to determine whether or not the grass seed can handle the stress. 

Seasonal changes in temperatures, precipitation and sunlight will affect your ability to grow grass. 

A temporary decline in growth can also be caused by over-fertilization, which can cause the roots to become desiccated and begin to die. 

Prolonged and severe water stress also damages grass, leaving it vulnerable to any other natural challenges such as pests and diseases.

How do I fix my burned lawn?

Restoring a burned lawn to health can be achieved by the use of a variety of products, tips and techniques.

  1. Fertilizer burn – water the lawn immediately after to prevent the lawn from drying out. For a full recovery, fertilizer should be applied sparingly to the existing lawn. Also maintain good soil aeration in order to promote root growth, improve nutrient intake and balance soil-fertilizer ratio.
  2. Urine burn – keep pets and children out of the affected area until grass recovers. Consider planting urine-tolerant grasses in the area, such as fescue, ryegrass, or centipede for home lawns. Also make sure that pets have adequate shelter and potty areas or supplies.
  3. Heat or fire burn – use a hose or sprinkler to wet the area and cool it down. Wetting agents like Revive are good at helping the soil retain moisture. Applying organic mulch, such as shredded leaves or grass clippings, help maintain the soil moisture content and prevent additional moisture loss.
  4. Herbicide injury – flush chemicals off of the lawn by watering the area

Final thoughts

To find out if your grass is dead, examine your turf closely. 

If you see any of the signs listed in this article, it’s likely that your grass has been damaged by either weather conditions, disease, or improper planting materials.

Grass seed is used to make healthy lawns, but it can still be damaged by extreme weather or other factors. 

If your lawn has been damaged, repair those problems before planting new grass seed so you get a good start. 

Don’t fertilize your lawn too heavily. 

Adding too much nitrogen to your lawn can result in burnt areas. 

Water properly. 

And try not to let dogs pee near your yard!


Zebedee Nambaleo
Zebedee Nambaleo

Zebedee is the founder of RealEstate Ke. He creates content by carefully examining and analyzing the real estate market, home improvement resources, and government data. His analysis is based on the principle of supplying high-quality, relevant, and in-depth information to his audience. By evaluating the current conditions and predicting future trends, he provides his audience with invaluable insights that allow them to make better decisions.