Why Does My Lawn Look So Bad?

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante
Credit: Shutterstock / Cmspic

It’s embarrassing when your lawn doesn’t look as great as you want it to. We’ve all experienced this, and sometimes it can feel like you did nothing wrong. So, why does my lawn look so bad?

Adjust your watering schedule if your lawn looks bad and unhealthy. It also helps to aerate your lawn once per year if the soil is compacted and doesn’t get enough oxygen. Keep your grass 2” to 2 ½” tall so you don’t weaken it and attract pests to your lawn.

Make sure to give your lawn extra water during stretches of extreme heat, or else it won’t bounce back. Follow along as we explore why your lawn looks so bad and highlight easy ways to fix the problem.

Why Does My Grass Look Terrible?

1. Overwatering Or Underwatering

Lawns can be fickle, and it’s all too easy to overwater or underwater your grass. Grass becomes straw-like when it gets too little water. Overwatering can damage your lawn’s root system, and that’s hard to come back from.

You can ensure your lawn gets a healthy amount of water if you install a sprinkler system. That said, it’s worth it to hire a professional to install the system. Professionals understand the importance of sprinkler placement, and that’s necessary to ensure healthy coverage.

Otherwise, you can manually water your lawn as needed. Your grass may not even need water every day if it’s not too hot and it looks healthy. Ideally, you should water your lawn early, so it has a full day to absorb what it needs and let the rest evaporate.

2. Compacted Soil

Soil compaction is a common, albeit inconvenient problem that can explain why your lawn looks so bad. Eventually, the soil becomes compacted due to the weight of foot traffic, equipment, and even lawnmowers. This prevents the soil and grass roots from getting enough oxygen, and your lawn will look unhealthy.

The easiest way to fix compacted soil is to aerate your lawn once every 1-2 years. However, yearly aeration is a great idea if you use lots of heavy machinery on your lawn. You can tell that your lawn needs aeration soon if the grass becomes thin, patchy, and brown.

Luckily, aeration is cheap and typically costs $75 to $200. The cost ultimately depends on how big your lawn is, and it’s worth every penny.

3. Bad Mowing Habits

It’s understandably hard for many homeowners to find the sweet spot when it comes to cutting their grass. You may have the instinct to mow your lawn as short as possible, but that can often lead to unhealthy grass. Most types of grass are at their healthiest at 2” to 2 ½” tall, and this also looks great.

Cutting your grass too short makes it more vulnerable to foot traffic, pests, and weeds. Grass that’s too tall is equally unhealthy, and that’s a common cause of pest infestations. Diseases can also spread quickly throughout an overgrown lawn.

You won’t have to spend a fortune on lawn treatments if you consistently cut your grass and keep it healthy. Many people mow their lawns weekly, but you can often wait up to 10 days if it’s not an emergency.

4. Malnourishment

Just like us, lawns rely on nutrients to stay healthy and look great. Potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, and iron are among the most important nutrients for grass. You can infuse your lawn with these nutrients with something as simple as grass clippings.

Fertilizers, grass clippings, manure, and compost can all add nutrients to your lawn. Soil tests let you figure out which nutrients your grass is lacking. Keep in mind that it can take a while to see the results, but it’s worth the effort.

You only need to fertilize your lawn 1-2 times per year in most cases. Exercise caution, as you can kill grass if you fertilize it too much. This will create patches of dead grass that make your lawn look bad and it can even spread.

5. Pesticides

Pesticides come in handy when your lawn gets overtaken by bugs. However, it’s all too easy to go overboard and use too many pesticides. Not only can this make your lawn look bad and kill your grass, but it’s also bad for the environment.

Excessive pesticides are also dangerous if you have pets that spend a lot of time in your yard. Never use more of a pesticide than the directions specified on the container.

Sadly, there isn’t much you can do to reduce the pesticides in your grass if you’ve already sprayed it. However, you can help fix the problem if you reseed your lawn.

6. Seasonal Changes

Don’t panic if your lawn looks bad during a change of seasons. Grass takes a while to adapt to seasonal temperature changes. For example, grass slowly loses color and even thins out toward the end of summer leading into fall.

That is normal, and it will look even worse by winter if you live in a cold climate. There’s nothing you can do about this besides counting the days until spring comes around. Grass can also change in appearance during extreme temperature spikes throughout a particular season.

For example, your lawn and plants may look weak and dull the first time the temperature reaches the mid-90s in summer. You can compensate for that if you give your lawn some extra water to help it bounce back. The most important thing is to monitor your lawn to make sure the grass is looking healthy.

7. Messy Lawn

Is your lawn covered with debris? If so, that can explain why your grass looks bad and unhealthy. The more debris there is on your lawn, the less sunlight it can get. This can cause sections of your lawn to look deprived and malnourished.

That doesn’t mean you can’t leave grass clippings on your lawn, as that’s quite helpful. However, you must remove sticks, twigs, fallen leaves, and trash from your lawn. It’s an easy way to keep your lawn healthy and ensure it gets as much sunlight as possible.

8. Your Mower is Defective

How old is your lawnmower? Mowers can last anywhere from 5 to 15 years, but it depends on how well you take care of it. That said, you can’t expect your lawn to look great if your mower is old and defective or the blades are dull.

Ideally, you should sharpen your mower’s blades after every 20 hours of use. This will ensure an even cut throughout your lawn. That also ensures you can mow thick tufts of grass in dense parts of your lawn. It typically only costs $15 to $30 to have a professional sharpen your mower blades.

Otherwise, you can simply replace your mower’s blade if you’ve had your mower for years. You can expect to spend up to $50 to replace the blades on your lawnmower. However, the cost varies based on the size of the blade and the model of the mower.

Summing It Up

Your lawn may look bad because it doesn’t get enough water, or you overwater it. Compacted soil and malnourishment can also make a lawn look dull, patchy, and thin. Overusing pesticides and fertilizers can kill your grass, and it’s also bad for the ecosystem.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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