Brown Grass? There’s a Good Chance Your Irrigation System is Faulty


Is your grass brown even though you have a functioning irrigation system installed? The only thing more frustrating than trying to keep your grass green is dealing with an inefficient irrigation system design that results in a portion of your grass dying. At this point, not only are you spending money on water and the irrigation system, but you still have unsightly brown spots in your landscape. It doesn’t matter how hard your irrigation system works, it will not reach those spots if it wasn’t designed optimally, and you will continue to have brown spots unless you do something about it.

Why Is the First Year You’ve Had a Problem?

Over the years, we have had countless clients call us to complain about brown spots in their landscape, and the first thing they say when they find out it may be an irrigation issue is, “but this is the first year we’ve ever had a problem.” It can be hard to understand why the grass has been green for years and is suddenly brown, but there is a precise reason for this.

The issue is the problem was always present, but rainy springs and summers help fill in the gaps the irrigation system is not hitting. So it appears as if the irrigation system is working wonderfully. However, this summer has been arid, and there has been very little rain. Therefore, improperly planned irritation systems leave chunks of dead grass in their wake, and property owners are scratching their heads, attempting to figure out why.

What Leads to Poor Irrigation System Installation?

There are two reasons why an irrigation system ends up improperly installed. The first is simply that the property owner chose the wrong company for the installation. A complete irrigation system can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, so many property developers opt for the lowest bid.

Unfortunately, the lowest bid is usually the least experienced and a company willing to cut corners themselves. This results in a poor irrigation system design and eventual problems when the weather dries out. While many developers/owners do a great job setting up the property for long-term success, others are more concerned with the initial install budget and willing to cut corners on items that will be “someone else’s problem” once the asset is sold.

The second reason is that the company that installed the irrigation system purposely chose to reduce the number of spray heads they installed or changed materials to get a lower quote. Sometimes the client even knows, but once again, since they plan to sell the commercial property eventually, it isn’t an issue to them at the time.

One great example is if there is an obstruction (such as a courtyard or playground) in the middle of a grassy area, it prevents the spray heads from being spaced the standard 12 feet apart. Instead of adding an extra row of spray heads, the company might have chosen to place them 15 feet apart and call it a day. The client and the company figure it’s only a three-foot difference, so close enough.

However, the problem is that three feet means a lot when the weather is dry, and the three feet in the middle is not receiving any water. Suddenly out of nowhere, there is a brown patch of grass that isn’t going away. It’s been almost a month since Dallas has seen rain, which means that many inefficient irrigation systems are being exposed across the city.

What to Do If You Suspect Your Irrigation System is Inefficient

If you suspect your irrigation system is not working properly, there are two options: install additional spray heads to fill the gaps or choose to ignore the issue. Years with a mixture of rain in the summer will hide the issue, but sometimes you will have to deal with brown patches. The extent of your brown patches will weigh heavily on your final decision.

Contact Earthworks for Help

EarthWorks can help you determine whether or not damage to your plants and grass is due to an inefficient irrigation system or a hotspot. We offer a free assessment and diagnose the final issue at no cost. Contact us today to get to the bottom of your brown spots.


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