Why is my grass a patchy mix of brown and green?

Why do I have brown and green patchy grass?

So… Your grass was looking awesome and now it has some strange leopard skin pattern. It’s a patchy mix of brown and green.  What is it??? Did someone spray something on it? Is it sick? Not to worry! You’ve just received the first frost in your area. All warm-season grasses like we grow here in Macon / Warner Robins are susceptible to frost injury. Read our post on warm and cool season grasses to learn more.

When air temperatures fall below 32 degrees frost can form. The water in and on the grass expands and crystalizes as it freezes. Check out this cool video of frost forming under a microscope. This process ruptures the plant’s cells and all of the chlorophyll, the green pigment in the leaf blades, is lost. Thus, the grass turns brown.

Frost Pattern on Bermuda Grass

Frost Pattern on Bermuda Grass

Why does it look patchy after a frost?

Bermudagrass seems to have the most pronounced frost patterns. This is due to its growth habit. We have to remember that turf is not one but millions of grass plants growing together. The grass does not all grow at a perfectly uniform rate. This causes minor variances in height as well as cold tolerance. Older leaf tissue can tolerate lower temperatures than tender new leaves. The result is a strange leopard skin pattern.

What do I need to do to get my green grass back? 

Okay, don’t run to the store and buy fertilizer! Don’t call your yard man! All you need to do is be patient. It’s important to understand that the grass is NOT DEAD! The grass has just gone dormant. Think of it as hibernating. All you need to do is be patient. As soon as temperatures get warm enough next spring it will be back.

In the meantime just embrace it. If you are on a good fertilization and weed control program the grass should be free of any weeds and just a nice uniform brown. A clean lawn in winter can be really attractive.

winter lawn care tips

Dormant Lawn

To learn about our fertilization and weed control programs click here.