I've owned my home for about 3 years now and every winter large patches of my lawn appears to die, but in the summer it comes back to life.... which makes me believe its some sort of seasonal grass. I'm not 100% sure of this though, and if there's an easier solution to killing the grass and replanting seeds that'd be awesome. I live in eastern Pennsylvania.

Here are some pictures:

Notice how the grass is greener near my neighbors mulch... which then makes me believe that its getting nutrients from it and perhaps needs something else?

enter image description here

When the grass actually grows in its REALLY thick

enter image description here

Based on this, do you think maybe I just need to dethatch, buy something to spray on it, or kill and replant? I put down scotts turf builder plus weed control like 3 days ago... no results so far (it worked in killing weeds in my front yard though)

  • most grasses go dormant part of the dry season. The solution would be to water regularly.
    – DA.
    Apr 20, 2012 at 4:26
  • Is it possible that your neighbor's grass is spreading into yours?
    – Ed Staub
    Apr 20, 2012 at 12:48
  • This is slightly off-topic, but that spot seems like the perfect place to make a vegetable garden. Just a thought.
    – Om Patange
    Apr 20, 2012 at 13:40
  • Is that also your yard behind the fence? It is much greener on the other side of that chain-link in the bottom picture on the left. May 12, 2014 at 13:50
  • No, just the fenced in area that I'm standing in. May 12, 2014 at 18:56

4 Answers 4


That looks like Kentucky Blue grass, or maybe you installed Bluegrass sod. It could be Zoysia grass. Both green up later when the soil temperatures rise.


If your grass looks like the below picture in summer, then you have bermuda grass. I am in south eastern PA, and this grass is green in Summer, but it takes a long time to green up in spring, and yellows with the frost in the fall. It is drought and heat resistant. One of my neighbors has Zoysia, and it does the same thing. It also is very thick in summer, like your problem grass. The lower picture shows Zoysia in the summer. He mows it to one inch after it dies back, and overseeds with annual bluegrass, to keep it green until next spring, when the Zoysia takes over. If you want to get rid of it, you can either spray it with weed and grass killer, or you can smother it with a covering. After it dies, reseed with your choice of grass seed. enter image description here enter image description here

  • Is now a good time of year to kill it and reseed? Also, would you still recommend bluegrass if I'm reseeding (as opposed to overseeding)? Apr 20, 2012 at 17:23
  • Well, we haven't been getting that much rain (until very recently), so if you reseed now, you would have to keep the seed very well watered. The bluegrass has the opposite problem as your problem grass, turning brown in summer, even when watered. I usually use tall fescue for general purpose. It isn't the finest grass, but it's tough, and low-maintenance.
    – J. Musser
    Apr 22, 2012 at 1:29

Just looking at the grass, I don't think it's a thatch problem (though de-thatching once in a while couldn't hurt; you don't need a thatch rake, just run a metal-tined leaf rake over it and you'll get any dead stuff). It looks like a greenup problem.

As mentioned in other answers, the species of grass you have planted affects when it turns green. Bermuda and other perennial "southern lawn" grasses are heat and drought-tolerant, but aren't as green or as pleasant to walk on barefoot as annuals, and they can have a delayed greenup in cooler climates.

Weed & feed is generally a good thing to do at least once a season, but understand that even though the herbicides used are designed to be selective (targeting broadleaf plants - weeds - while leaving the grass alone), they are still poisons and do still have an effect on your grass (think of it like chemotherapy; the chemo is designed to target cancerous cells but does a fair amount of collateral damage). While the grass is recovering (this can take up to a month), its growth and greenup will be reduced, and germination of any new seeds (good and bad) will be prevented. So, it's generally best to apply weed & feed either as early as possible after the snows have melted and the ground thawed, or more toward mid-season after the grass has greened up well. If you don't weed and feed early, fertilize early; a fertilizer-only product such as Scott's Turf Builder can be applied four or five times a year, and up to a point, the more you fertilize the quicker your lawn will green up and the thicker it will grow. Of course it's possible to "burn" a lawn by over-fertilizing (either too much or too often) so be reasonable.

What you are most likely seeing with regards to the strip of green next to your neighbor's lawn is a combination of a different species of grass, regular overseeding, and better fertilization. Your neighbor is most likely using a scatter spreader, and so whatever he puts on his lawn (seed, fertilizer) will carry over onto yours. No big deal, except you're not doing the same thing he's doing, with the same products, so the difference is noticeable. I'd talk to your neighbor, find out what products he's using, how much and when; it seems to be working for him, so you could take away some pointers.


This is interesting! I took a magnifying glass to see if I could see thatch, grin! Thatch would make sense. Look on the edge by your sidewalk, you should be able to see a 'mat' of roots, un-decomposed lawn debris and very little soil. If it is more than an inch thick, it is time to de-thatch. I am not familiar with your type of grasses but your observations about your neighbor's influence and the difference in vitality between your grass and theirs is excellent. Seriously. I'm a Landscape Architect I thought I'd jump in and opine.

Is your home the brick home? Just half of it or all of it? Why the chain-link fence? Is there more to your lot where you stood to take the pictures? Love to see your front yard as well. Do you have ANY plants other than grass? Love to see your home, roof and all...

I'm just going to come out and tell you my thoughts and if I am wrong, just let me know.

A small yard like yours could be easily designed to be an extension of your home with outdoor 'rooms'...privacy, simple foundation planting, a small, simple water feature for sound or white noise, beautiful screen panels made with 2X2's, lap-jointed with 8" thick posts staggered (versus a 'fence') allows the eye to stop at the screen defining your outdoor rooms while allowing air and neighbors to feel welcome. An arbor or small tree canopy, a bright and cheerful awning or a simple porch (and back door) would allow you to sit outside during a storm sipping on hot chocolate. Ha ha, how about a fire pit? A hot tub? A simple patio with groupings of potted plants?

A professionally designed landscape would vastly increase the value of your home. Far more than remodeling the kitchen or adding another bathroom...are you going to live in this home for the next 5 years, 10 years...or sell next year? I see such possibility to improve your living experience, investing $4-5,000, easily increasing the value of your home by $40-50,000.

What I see in your pictures is wasted space. Maintaining anything that you never enjoy is a waste, my opinion...are you interested in enlarging the living area of your very own home? Do you have friends over? Are you married? Any pets? Kids someday? Would you like to grow your own food? Do you even like being outside during a storm? Do you like to cook outdoors? Eat outdoors? Do you find you are disconnected from 'nature'? Grin. You would be amazed to see what I envision after seeing these few snapshots.

I hope that you'll reconsider growing just grass (gees! Get a sod cutter, cut it all out, use it to make ornamental plant beds, put in a vegey garden...replace it with new sod, fertilize with an extended release organic fertilizer-some have bacteria that eat thatch), aerate once a year, water deeply and allow the soil to dry out to get your lawn to dig deep for water and become drought tolerant or...

Begin thinking of your home and landscape differently...small can be big!


  • Since the picture was taken 2 years ago I've planted some plants adjacent to the garbage cans. The picture is taken from my backdoor, and half of the brick building is my garage (house is all brick). I already dethatched so I'm positive its seasonal grass. I do have 1 kid so I'd like to keep green space for her to run around. We plan on moving between 2-4 years from now, but putting in a new fence and fire pit are things that I would like to get to eventually. My one neighbor had a new fence put in but you'll notice that the other side of the year is the original (circa 1930). May 12, 2014 at 18:49
  • I've since learned that the grass is greener near my neighbors mulch because the former owner planted another type of grass just in that area. May 12, 2014 at 18:54
  • Did you talk to your neighbor? How much does your child actually use your lawn? If she plays outside why not consider a bit more privacy to protect her...grin. Such a cute place...you should at least think about a landscape. 'Shrubbing' things up is not what landscape architects really do...we see the forest not just the trees...start looking at yards you like, magazines, the internet. Cut out pictures and start a scrapbook. You've got a gem right now that done properly and with very little investment, you'll get a lot back. You'll know what to look for in your next home...truly a gem!
    – stormy
    May 13, 2014 at 0:13
  • former owner of your home? no way. Looks like you thought...overseed, ok...extra water or nutrients yes. No one would plant different seed in a border to their neighbor. And the other side of that fence? On your property, why is that greener right at the fence line?
    – stormy
    May 14, 2014 at 20:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.