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I have spots in my lawn that look dead, like straw, what can I do about it?

New lawns ( 0 – 18 months old ) can have this look to them.

The leaf of the ‘Sir Walter’ has curled in half to conserve moisture, because it’s root system hasn’t fully established yet. It will take 2-3 years to fully establish a good healthy root system for Sir Walter lawn.

Another sign of this is when seed heads appear in that area all the time, a sign of the plant is stressing.


Some reasons why:

  • Poor soil
  • Soil too hard – roots having trouble
  • Builders rubble underneath
  • Not enough soil
  • Soil won’t hold any moisture – sandy, gravel, crusher dust, road base


Top dress area with good clean sandy loam or with garden mix which is full of organic matter( but looks unsightly until mown) Don’t completely cover all the leaves of the grass, use a lawn leveller to brush the soil into the lawn which exposes the leaves, then hose the soil in

A light fertilizing will assist the repair process, put down under the top dressing

Increase watering of this area until completely recovered, the more water the quicker the repair

If problem continues, treat area again as above, but check what is under the ground by digging a hole or using a garden fork.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Same problem at my place,thanks for the info, poor preperation under lawn. gravel ,crusher dust must have been a lazy landscaper. will attend to my lawn straight away.

  2. My Sir Walter lawn has quite a few brown dry patchs, I think its from all the hot & dry weather. Now that we have just had some rain should I fertilize & will these areas bounce back ?

    1. Yes it will recover, as soon as the weather improves, and fertilize these areas with a little top dressing over them, little bits often are better don’t over do it.

  3. Hi Terry, my lawn seems to be suffering a similar fate to a few others I read on your website. It’s about 4 years old now and your team did a big “dethatch”job on it about 18 months ago. I have a few photos that I will send either seperately or with this mail. I have fertilized (November) and all loooked reasonably good after that. Watering has been regular but somewhat sparingly acting on your advice to not overdo the irrigation. My main concern is that it might be grub infestation but I have not seen any evidence of that above ground. What do you recommend? I’m guessing a soil todress and fertilizer and perhaps less sever mowing but I will hold off until I hear from you or your team. You may remember the lawn.

    Looking foreward to hearing from you in due course.



  4. It will need topdressing like the rest of the other lawns, this aids recovery, but just watch out for lawn grubs in the next couple of months being March/April as your lawn will be lush and green after you top dress.

  5. Hi

    My lawn goes brown after i cut it is it i cut it to stort or because its the hot weather


  6. Hi Terry,

    I have simliar issues to these – and after recent hot weather, now 70% of my 115 sq m has gone brown. I also have a few “dead sectiosn which are grey and look to have a mould or fungus? I think I made the mistake of putting down sandy loam – about 3 inches deep as underlay. It is really sandy – not much organic matter at all. The grass has been down 4 months now – certainly established, but I’m afraid I may lose the lot. Is it too early to top soil? fertilise?. someone suggested seaweed solution in small doses regularly as a tonic?

    realy appreciate your advice.



    1. Hi Martin,

      The most likely cause of your problem will be this weather at the moment, in 20 years of turf farming we haven’t seen it so dry as this in such a short period, some turf farms are struggling to produce turf, so don’t feel bad. Your lawn will need 2-3 years to become fully established, that’s how long it takes to build a root system to cope with this extreme dry period. Sounds like the damage is somewhat done, but usually Sir Walter has the ability to recover, better than any other lawn we have farmed. By all means top dress damaged areas, then keep moist until fully recovered. Understand that at the moment evaporation rates are currently 6.8mm per day, therefore over a week your lawn needs 47.6 mm to maintain moisture levels, this is only while this heat is about. Seaweed solutions will help your lawn, but you need a major boost, so use Sir Walter fertiliser, as this is blended just for this type of situation. In other words, water, water, water, at night when its cool or early mornings, soaker hoses work well using a tap timer, your lawn should recover with some top dressing, fertiliser, and plenty of water, just keeping it moist. Hope this hepls

  7. We always had a great lawn, last year during a really wet season, it was suggested to us to top dress our lawn with crusher dust to help with drainage. So we did, the lawn loved it. It grew through beautifully, but during the winter it seemed to die off in patches, and then we had bare spots in the lawn. Mainly it affected the broadleaf, the couch on the footpath had no troubles. Summer came again it started to revive itself and the patches almost disappeared. The process is starting again with the cooler months coming in. Can someone please advise me what is happening and how to fix it.

    1. Hi Tracy,

      To answer your questions I need more information about your lawn variety and where your lawn is as in what state of Aust.

      To me is sounds like you are in the cooler parts like Victoria. Where the patches are forming each winter, you could dig a hole to investigate what’s under the turf, because it seems when conditions for lawn to grow are good the lawn does okay.

      Send me some more information to

  8. I laid 40 m2 of Sir Walter aproximately 9 months ago after rotary hoeing the ground and turning in soil conditioner. All has been well and the lawn has been regularly fertilised as per instructions, and we are always asked ‘how do we keep the grass so green’. That was until just recentlywhen I noticed a silvery area appearing in the centre of the lawn. On closer inspection, I saw that the normally robust growth was now diminished in the area of concern, and looked pale in colour and about half the normal thickness. So far, I have tried anti lawn beetle products but no evidence of dead beetles has emerged. I’m about to try an anti fungal product call ‘Mancozeb’ with the hope that this will restore the lawn to it’s healthy self as the area has now spread into a much larger portio of the lawn, very quickly. I haven’t top dressed the lawn since installation as it’s quite flat in appearance, but I’m thinking this may now have become a factor. Your comments and advice would be very welcome as I’m about to pull my hair out !!!! Kind regards…Doug

  9. Hi Doug,

    About 9 months, hmm yep, that’s when the roots of Sir Walter would be about to enter the area of soil that you have not rotary hoed, and the lawn variety doesn’t like something down there, it could be a fungal thing, but most unlikely as Sir Walter tolerates fungus here in SEQ, hmmm I’m assuming you are local, so it would help for me to know that.
    Whatever the case is, remember this, it takes 3 -4 years for a Sir Walter lawn to become fully established, by then the roots system will be in a better position to handle all the things we ask of a good lawn. So give the lawn a feed in the damaged areas, light top dressing with some organic clean organic soil, and it should encourage the repair process.
    Use Sir Walter Fertiliser at 2.5 kg per 100 m2 and repeat this in 4 wks time

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