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Why do Sections of my Lawn Turn Brown in Winter?

Winter brings a unique challenge to tall fescue lawns: unsightly brown patches caused by dormant Bermuda grass. As a warm-season turf grass, Bermuda grass turns brown and dormant in the cold weather, creating a stark contrast against the green color of a tall fescue lawn. Understanding this issue and effective strategies to manage it is crucial for homeowners seeking a uniform lawn appearance during winter.

frozen grass blades

The Spread of Bermuda Grass in Tall Fescue Lawns

Bermuda grass tends to spread into tall fescue lawns, thriving in hot conditions along roads and sidewalk edges where heat from the surrounding hardscape is more intense. In winter, this grass goes dormant and turns brown, leading to noticeable patches in otherwise green lawns.

Strategies to Suppress Bermuda Grass

  1. Mowing Practices: Bermuda grass prefers short mowing heights. By keeping your tall fescue lawn mowed as high as possible, you can significantly suppress the spread of Bermuda grass. A higher mowing height discourages Bermuda grass growth while benefiting tall fescue.

  2. Spot Treatment Before Fall: Prior to fall aeration and over-seeding, spot treating areas of Bermuda grass can effectively reduce its presence in your lawn. This targeted approach helps to minimize the brown patches during winter.

  3. Decision to Remove or Suppress: While some may choose to live with the seasonal changes caused by Bermuda grass, others opt for its removal to maintain a consistent lawn appearance. Understanding your preference and lawn goals is essential in deciding the right approach.

Regular Lawn Care for a Uniform Lawn

In addition to mowing practices, maintaining overall lawn health through regular care, proper fertilization, and soil management can help keep Bermuda grass at bay. A healthy, robust tall fescue lawn is less susceptible to Bermuda grass invasion.


Dealing with Bermuda grass in tall fescue lawns requires a thoughtful approach, especially in preparation for winter dormancy. Implementing strategies like adjusting mowing heights and spot treatments can significantly improve your lawn's appearance in the colder months.

Need Expert Lawn Care Advice?

If Bermuda grass is affecting the appearance of your tall fescue lawn, or if you have any questions about lawn care, contact Turf Professors. We offer tailored advice and solutions to help you maintain a healthy, uniform lawn throughout the year. Let us assist you in achieving and preserving the beauty of your landscape.


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