Asked on Apr 21, 2012

Trail of dead grass mystery?

Joan K
by Joan K
Trail of dead grass appeared two weeks ago that starts in neighbor's yard and goes to the sidewalk, then continues past the sidewalk in a line into the grass into my yard all the way to street. I noticed the neighbors across the street have the same tail of dead grass. Never happened in 12 years I've lived here. Anyone have ideas on what is causing this?
Trail of dead grass to the street
Trail of dead grass from house to street
  85 answers
  • Glendean H Glendean H on Apr 21, 2012
    spary beer on it or banana peelings
  • Laura R Laura R on Apr 21, 2012
    could be a natural gas leak in the area and it's following the the service lines. Natural gas kills the grass in the area of the leak
  • Joy D Joy D on Apr 21, 2012
    In a straight line like this my guess would be someone carrying something that was leaking a thin trail of chemical that killed the grass.....Grub worms or anything like that would be spread out....happened in my yard in a circle area...from a small hole in a rolling garbage can...
  • Diana R Diana R on Apr 21, 2012
    any gasoline thieves in area?
  • Lynda E Lynda E on Apr 21, 2012
    someone walked that area with a dripping container of an herbicide or something toxic to grass.
  • Amiee B Amiee B on Apr 21, 2012
    Is the area soft like maybe there is a tunnel burrowed underneath?
  • Danelle T Danelle T on Apr 21, 2012
    Grubs? If you pull on the dead grass does it come up easy and in a layer? If it's grubs you'd better get rid of them now or the racoons will destroy your yard. Happen to us. It's horrible.
  • DeAnne T DeAnne T on Apr 21, 2012
    looks like a natural gas leak, call your utility ASAP.
  • Mark W Mark W on Apr 21, 2012
    I agree with Lynda. I think somehow herbicide, either by accident, sloppiness, or on purpose, came into contact with the grass.
  • Stacy P Stacy P on Apr 21, 2012
    I would say that there is a line of something nasty underneath it...a locating company should be able to tell...or a county plot map is supposed to show gas water fiber optic lines.....
  • Deb G Deb G on Apr 21, 2012
    Bad pipeline? Dead plants were one of the warnings in my pamphlet about living with commercial pipelines in your yard.
  • Laura J Laura J on Apr 21, 2012
    Looks as though it comes right out of the garage. Someone dragging a trash bag that leaked some sort of herbicide/chemical. Dog pee would be spots , not a trail. Gas lines are straight not curved.
  • Jessica S Jessica S on Apr 21, 2012
    My first thought is leaking pipeline. Check to see if you have a gas main there. The fact that it is following a straight line & jumps barriers strongly points to that.
  • Rosa K Rosa K on Apr 21, 2012
    yep, it could be one of numerous lawn bugs...cinch, cenipede, mole cricket and if the path is raised..moles ( animal) kind, very small. This can be remedied by going to Home Depot or Lowes and getting a bag of bug killer. You will see the type of bugs I mentioned on the bag. Hope I helped. The stuff is reasonably inexpensive and can be found in or near the garden centers...Good Luck
  • Sean O Sean O on Apr 21, 2012
    its a ghost trail
  • Jay S Jay S on Apr 21, 2012
    I'm with Laura and Joy D. This appears to be from a leaking trash bag/can or possibly even an overflowing gas tank on a push mower. Utilities such as gas lines will be run in straight lines.
  • Laura J Laura J on Apr 21, 2012
    Look again. It's curved, or at angle to the house and turns at the front of the truck. Gas lines go directly to the house.
  • Rebecca D Rebecca D on Apr 21, 2012
    Grubs ?
  • Mike L Mike L on Apr 21, 2012
    Have you had frost on the lawn recently? If actively growing grass is walked upon when frost covered, the leaf blades brown.
  • Danelle T Danelle T on Apr 21, 2012
    Seeing that it is continued on both sides of the sidewalk tells me something leaked as it was carried also. But I wouldn't rule out grubs or some insect. When I had the grub prob it was on both sides of the sidewalk also. (this happen when we lived in Ohio)
  • Cheryl P Cheryl P on Apr 21, 2012
    Looks like grubs or mole Crickets. Go to the Home Depot and get a bag of the granules in the red bag-RED BAG. Sprinkle (follow directions) and it will go away. You want to do this all over the yard because they move like fire ants do. They rake the spot and re put grass seed. On Sale right now. Yes I work at the Depot. You can ask any garden associate and they will tell you the same thing. If you see black tracks like that, it is fungus or mold. Its a whole different chemical. Have a great day.
  • Brian S Brian S on Apr 21, 2012
    agrre with the not gasline also is iregular in width and not trampled enough to be a path so leaves residue or possably a drainage contaminant the way it goes around truck and tree would lead one to think spillage maybe from fuel oil or kerosine
  • Joan K Joan K on Apr 21, 2012
    Thanks all.. I just went outside to touch, poke and pull at the dead grass. It is not soft and doesn't come up easily. I also thought it was gasoline or chemical that got spilled but It made me suspicious because the neighbors across the street have the same thing that appeared at same time. (runs from their garage area to the street). It's hard to see but the gas register is on the side of my neighbors garage and the dead grass starts right about there but not quite. But as some of you pointed out it is not a real straight line either that would follow a pipe.
  • Rick M Rick M on Apr 21, 2012
  • Kitty W Kitty W on Apr 21, 2012
    Uh oh! Looks like someone walked across the grass carrying something that was spilling.
  • Daisy G Daisy G on Apr 21, 2012
    If you have the same yard service it could have been gas from his weed eater...happened to my lawn last year...that's what happened after months of puzzlement ...
    • Elaine Elaine on Aug 17, 2017

      Hello Daisy, I have a similar mystery that happened the day after my lawn man was here. He's coming back tomorrow. I strongly suspect either his mower, blower or weed eater leaked gas. I have a long trail that follows the bush line. Did your grass come back?

  • Brian S Brian S on Apr 21, 2012
    of course the fill dirt is not always homoginous which means following the path of least resistance to the lower pressure gas might not show the pipe but the filtrational properties of the soil!
  • Brian S Brian S on Apr 21, 2012
    would also add that if so why would gas show on the corner because it should be more traffic compaction = less pervious!
  • Joan K Joan K on Apr 21, 2012
    @Daisy - we don't use lawn service @Brian and others suggesting gas pipe leak..I think I'll call the village to investigate to rule it out.
  • Cyndia M Cyndia M on Apr 21, 2012
    Dogs urinating in the same spot every day, two or three times a day will kill grass...
  • Carol B Carol B on Apr 21, 2012
    I agree with Rick,,,,,,, blame it on Obama!!
  • Pat G Pat G on Apr 21, 2012
    salt damage?
  • Barbara W Barbara W on Apr 21, 2012
    not sure if this could happen were you live but, people walking on treated sidewalks/roads in winter then getting out of their car and it being "cleaned" off their shoes by your fresh snow thus killing your grass???
  • Nancy B Nancy B on Apr 21, 2012
    Send a soil sample to NC Cooperative Extension Service for Excellent analysis that's "dirt" cheap. Take the results to Lowe's, and you'll be back at LAWN OF THE YEAR status in no time! : ) P.S. If it IS gas leakage, they will help you file a report! IMPORTANT!
  • Joan K Joan K on Apr 21, 2012
    @Rick&Carol - I could try blaming it on Obama, but I doubt there would be any compensation. :-) Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. I love this forum!
  • Diane Diane on Apr 21, 2012
    We have the same problem in a draught or have had little rain anywhere on our property where there is underground piping used for drainage (like from the gutters to get the water away from the house or walkway). My neighbor also gets these spots from a bug infestation in her lawn. If it spreads wider, and varies, it could be bugs. If its in a straight line, it could be the drain pipe.
  • Joan K Joan K on Apr 21, 2012
    Dear All - I called the gas company, they came out within 15 mins.! They checked our house, next door and across the street and NO GAS leak. Yay! Now process of elimination to determine if bugs or some chemical.
  • Eve T Eve T on Apr 21, 2012
    I have the same sort of problem, but I know what it is, but can do nothing about it. Gosh darn RABBIT'S, they have done some damage in my front AND back Lawns. :( Anybody knows how to keep them from coming back???
  • John S John S on Apr 21, 2012
    Did a mailman or meter reader start cutting a corner or did someone start shoveling snow in a different trail?
  • JANE C JANE C on Apr 21, 2012
    Call your city hall and ask to have the utilities/gas people check that area. It could be a gas leak and it could be very dangerous.
  • Joan K Joan K on Apr 21, 2012
    Gas company came out and determined no gas leak. I will treat for bugs at this point.
  • Eve T Eve T on Apr 21, 2012
    check for rabbits...........
  • Kelly S Kelly S on Apr 21, 2012
    Smebody new in the neighbor hood walking their female dog?
  • Nyomi R Nyomi R on Apr 22, 2012
    I would recommend calling Dig Safe. There could be OTHER pipes besides gas that run under that area. Dig Safe will come out (free of charge) are map out EXACTLY where all your pipes are. It could be a water pipe or a sewerage pipe that is leaking in miniscule amounts, but still enough to cause damage. Even buried electricity lines can cause damage if there is damage to the "pipes" that they are contained in. The voltage and currents that run through them can cause burning of the grass. The fact that it goes from your neighbors yard through yours, plus it is also across the street, sounds like it would rule out any sort of pest. If it was a pest (a bug or a mammal), they would have other areas besides just this one REALLY LONG path. I highly doubt that someone dragged a leaking bag through your neighbors yard, your yard, and all the way across the street. It just doesn't make any sense. Neither does a dog urinating. A dogs marks would leave patches, not a mostly solid path. I think that the best thing to do, before you spend money on anything, before you put any poisons down, is to call Dig Safe and have them evaluate your yar and your neighbors. Like I said, they are free of charge, and you will at least have peace of mind that it is not from any other pipes or lines that are running through the yards. Good luck and please let us know what Dig Safe found!
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Apr 22, 2012
    It's not a good idea to apply an insecticide to your lawn because of a suspicion. It doesn't sound like you have grubs because the grass didn't pull up easily, but to be sure, cut a flap of sod about 1' by 1 ' by 6" deep. Pull the sod back and poke through the soil to find the white grubs. Count them: if you count between three and five, you need to treat the lawn. For chinch bugs, use the flotation method: cut the ends out of a metal coffee can and insert the can into the soil at the edge of the discolored grass. Use a knife or shovel to dig the edges of the can down 3 inches into the soil. Fill the can with water continuously for five minutes. The chinch bugs trapped in the can will float to the top of the water. Repeat this method at least four times throughout the discolored area, concentrating on the perimeter of the injured spots, to ensure proper diagnosis. To test for mole crickets, add 2 tablespoons of a liquid detergent to 1 gallon of water, then pour the resulting mixture over a 1 - 2 square foot area, again just on the edge of the damage. If there are mole crickets present in the location, they will surface in only a few minutes. It's best to do a flush test like this in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Sharon C Sharon C on Apr 22, 2012
    My neighbor had an area that appeared like this. She kept thinking it was dogs. Turns out it was a fungus. Fungicide took care of the problem & the grass grew back.
  • Kitty W Kitty W on Apr 22, 2012
    I remember at my brothers house a dead trail of grass caused when the trash can leaked something as it was being carried to and from the garbage truck, in a V shape where it was carried to and from the truck. Twice a day watering cleared out whatever it was and the grass came back rather quickly. As a personal preference, I'd try water first before using a fungicide or pesticide.
  • PAULINE S PAULINE S on Apr 22, 2012
    I have had the same thing happen, found out it was the dogs using the grass as a toilet. Dug mine up, put two pieces of sod down and a notice up to say that area was not a doggy stop.
  • Christina H Christina H on Apr 22, 2012
  • Clay B Clay B on Apr 23, 2012
    If someone laid a tarp/plastic/drop cloth etc., in the sun, it will also kill grass quickly, doesn't take long. It will look fine right after this, but will die in a week or so.
  • Mitzie B Mitzie B on Apr 23, 2012
    Could it have beed a garbage bag or can drug across the lawn with maybe some chemicals draining or some other stuff spilling out.
  • Diane Diane on Apr 23, 2012
    It could also be an underground water line if you have town water or waste line - especially since this is happening at your neighbor's house ...
  • Clay B Clay B on Apr 23, 2012
    Other possibilities, very leaky sewer line? Or Moles burrowing? Does water run-off from the driveway through here, could be contaminated oils from vehicles, or soapy water from washing car, normally this will not harm grass as long as you rinse it with clean water a bit after washing car.
  • The Manly Club The Manly Club on Apr 23, 2012
    Joan.....I used to work for an artificial turf company and we were constantly replacing melted grass that was caused by a reflection of the sun on large patches of grass. Artificial turf melts when burned by the sun by way of a refection off a glass window nearby but real grass burns just like in your photo. Believe it or not reflections can be that intense and can appear because of new windows in close proximity. Don't look for just new windows though, also look for any other source of reflection in the area. The angle of the sun changes all the time so you may only see it at certain times of the year. Worth a look.
  • Joan K Joan K on Apr 23, 2012
    Thanks all for the many suggestions. I will investigate them all.
  • Yvonne Yvonne on Apr 23, 2012
    I live in Virginia and it looks like the work of a MOLE! They will tear your lawn up with their trails dug underground creating brown patches/trails like that. Don't be surprised if that trail turns to bare spots. I tried dropping juicy fruit gum into the holes they create. It clogs their digestive system and kills them...if they eat it. Use gloves on hands so they don't p/u human scent.
  • Here, that would be where a trench was dug for a septic line replacement and the soils put back in with no topsoil to replant, leaving the sod weak in that space so it dies back in times of stress
  • Laura J Laura J on Apr 29, 2012
    where does it say this is Artificial turf??? she calls it DEAD grass.
  • Christina H Christina H on Apr 29, 2012
    what did you find out it was
  • Joan K Joan K on Apr 29, 2012
    @Christina - not grubs or bugs. I dug a little and didn't find anything. Gas company checked and no leaks. My best guess is chemical or gasoline burn. Just don't know how it happened. Thanks for asking.
  • Sharon C Sharon C on Apr 30, 2012
    Did you try a fungicide?
  • Diane Diane on Apr 30, 2012
    If your neighbor has the same thing from his house to the street its def an underground pipe or storm/wastewater line. Lack of rain causes soil around the pvc pipes to heat up and suck the moisture out of the grass directly above it. The grass dries out and results in long dry lines on the lawn directly over the pipes. We have them now since we have had so little rain. We also get them every summer in the same place ever since we installed pvc piping to direct the ground and storm water away from our pool. I live in NY and have clay soil....
  • The Manly Club The Manly Club on May 03, 2012
    Good point Laura J......I should have added that the effect is the same for artificial turf and real grass. In fact, reflections from windows have burned down houses. The heat can be intense and if it happens to concentrate all of it's heat into one flammable area it can burn intensely. Real grass is no match for it. I would bet that is exactly what is going on here.
  • Right. Newer windows with low-E coatings reflect more of the sun's light and heat. Hundreds of people are finding their vinyl siding melting right off the house in spots where the reflected sunlight hits it intensely.
  • Wanda sinnema Wanda sinnema on Jul 26, 2013
    here is an quick FYI regarding dogs and cats,,,,,, to get them to STOP using your yard and flower beds I buy CAYANNE PEPPER,,,,,,,,,HOTTEST ONE I can find (usually bulk foods dept) spread it at the first sign...... in the area marked or areas I want them to avoid....they come back,,sniff and they don't apply when needed. or after rains.. a few times and they give up..cheaper than the stuff you buy on the garden aisles..
    • See 1 previous
    • Yvette Spicer Yvette Spicer on Jul 30, 2016
      Oh, also, I would take some of the grass and soil to an extension office where they can test it. Bring along some regular undamaged grass and soil.
  • Wanda sinnema Wanda sinnema on Jul 26, 2013
    also,,,,, I have heard this also works for rabbits, deer, and RACOONS,,,,,
  • Kelly S Kelly S on Jul 27, 2013
    How is your lawn now?
  • Joan K Joan K on Jul 27, 2013
    @kelly s - It's recovered fine! I never figured out what really happened but the grass is back and green again.
  • Envy Lawn Envy Lawn on Mar 13, 2014
    That was an odd shape of burned grass. It is very likely it was some sort of environmental issue such as gas line, water pipe or even run off from your roof mixed with chemicals/paint, eventually burning your grass!
  • Cynde Synakowski Cynde Synakowski on Apr 15, 2015
    I've seen people use a herbicide that spread to other areas of the lawn after a heavy rain.
  • Mehartgallery Mehartgallery on Apr 29, 2015
    Chinch bug? Check around the outside edges of the brown spots.. see if you can pick out very tiny red specks,,, that would be the bugs, they eat their way out .
  • Bonnie witlam Bonnie witlam on May 04, 2015
    Did u ever think of grubs, take a small shovel and lift a patch of the brown grass..if u see white grubby critters it is serious. U can buy grub killer or remove all the infected grass and , make sure you got all the grubs out of the ground, replant new grass seed. Good luck
  • Ima mitered Ima mitered on May 31, 2015
    I had a neighbor who sprayed some weeds with a higher concentration of product than was needed and then my mailman walked through it and into my yard, not on the side walk and made the same freaking mess! I asked the mailman to use the sidewalks and not my yard for a walking path! Hope yours isn't the same....but it looks like mine did!
  • Capernius Capernius on Jun 01, 2015
    If you have a problem with 4 legged critters, Cayenne Pepper is the fastest way to solve that problem. You could buy the peppers at the store & grind them yourself, buy the pepper powder, or grow your own in your garden or in a 5 gallon bucket & grind them yourself. However you do it, the sooner you apply this to wherever the problem is, the sooner the problem will disappear. To my knowledge, the only living organism that is NOT affected by Cayenne Pepper, are birds. they do not have the ability to taste the heat from the pepper. And if a small child should get his/her hands in it, or taste it, there will be no permanent damage. Again, this works for all 4 legged critters.
  • Trash Find Redesigned Trash Find Redesigned on Jun 01, 2015
    It could be grubs. I might get a professional to see if that is the case before it spreads anymore.
  • Mimi Haywood Mimi Haywood on Jul 08, 2015
    I would have the city check it for sewer or gas line leakage just for safety sake. Strange it follows a line.
  • Liz Smith Liz Smith on Apr 16, 2016
    I agree with other comments it might be 'Grubs' if you did down you may see 'white' grubs...You can buy grub killer and you should do it before the raccoons start digging for the grubs. It makes an awful mess and you will have to re-seed. This happened to our grass years ago. Thankfully the grass came back well.........Also female dog's urine can kill grass and they do like to go in the same spot! Good Luck!!
  • Judy Ann Judy Ann on Jun 30, 2016
    It could be something under the grass, where I live it could be a large rock, in town maybe a sewer line, some sort of pipe they ran under ground
  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Apr 07, 2022

    Dogs have peed on the area, also looks like a walkway path.

  • John Friel John Friel on Dec 22, 2022

    more likely to be something like a mole burrowing under the grass

  • Brenda Brenda on May 02, 2023

    Brown patch fungus, also known as large patch disease, is a declining turf condition caused by a single species of fungus, Rhizoctonia, and often occurs in mid-to-late summer when the weather is hot and humid — making conditions perfect for the fungus to thrive. I had my soil tested. I paid for mole traps and monitoring. I put down grub eliminating products. The fix was to apply fungicide monthly. I starting in spring and applied monthly till fall. I resealed areas with a fall blend grass and the yard is beautiful now.

  • Mogie Mogie on May 06, 2023

    It may seem like it's damage from fertilizer or the tires on your lawn mower, but it's not likely. Chances are that it's actually a lawn disease known as Ascochyta leaf blight.

  • Deb K Deb K on May 19, 2023

    Hi Joan, definitely check for gas leaks.

  • NanaT NanaT on Oct 18, 2023

    Well it's 2023, I was on pins and needles reading all these posts trying to find the answer. (Even tho 10 has passed) So many good suggestions. Glad it wasn't gas. But thru the neighbors yard also...very suspicious.

  • Glendaglenda Glendaglenda on May 10, 2024

    Call dig right, they'll mark all utility lines and pipes under ground for free. You may need to tell them You're wanting to dig but it's a way to find out if anything is underneath those areas