Why Does My Grass Pull Up Easily?

One of the steps for primary lawn care that you do regularly is pulling up weeds that are growing with your grass and raking them out. It is normal to have a few grass blades being pulled up, especially when you use a rake instead of your bare hands.

However, in some instances, a massive lump of grass is raked out. Worse, the entire grass gets uprooted.

The reason why grass pulls up easily is because of an unhealthy root system which can be caused by grubs in the soil, water issues, or other lawn damages.

A study by Mary Owen explains that lawn grass has two types of root systems: 1) the primary or seminal roots, and 2) the adventitious root system.

The primary roots are developed during seed germination and grow long and deep down in the ground. They function for around six to eight weeks to provide nutrients from the soil to the seedling.

The adventitious roots begin to form shortly after the first leaf emerges. It grows laterally and is responsible for absorbing nutrients from the soil, replacing the primary roots from here onwards.

Owen mentioned in the study that aside from absorbing water and nutrients, the roots of turfgrasses also acts as its anchor. A healthy root system helps grasses to be more stable on the ground and not easily pulled up.

An unhealthy root system explains why your grass is easily uprooted. But what causes this? What makes the roots too weak and unstable to the point that it gets easily pulled up?

3 Reasons Why My Grass Pulls Up Easily

There are many reasons why your turfgrass has an unhealthy root system. Here, we enumerate the leading causes and offer a tip or two on how to fix it.

1. Grubs in Soil Eating Grass Roots

One of the most common fungal diseases that weakens the roots are grubs.

Grubs are soft-bodied, white larvae of beetles that feed on your grassroots. They will grow into beetles that would lay eggs under the soil and would eventually hatch into more grubs. They usually lay eggs mid-to-end of summer and hatch during fall. That’s why it is crucial to detect and get rid of larvae before they destroy your entire lawn.

How to Fix White Grub problems?

Early detection is vital in fighting off white grubs.

As soon as you observe a patch of dead grass on your lawn, you better check them for grubs. Do a tug test. If the grass quickly pulls up and you see little white C-shaped insects, then you should get rid of them before they multiply.

Apply a grub killer on the affected area. You can use St. Gabriel Organics Milky Spore Granular Grub Control since it can be used for any season.

After you apply, remove the dead spot and water the area. This allows the soil to recover both from the grub infestation and the fungicide that you used. If you think it is ready to be re-seeded, then plant new grass seeds and tend to it like you would a newly seeded lawn.

2. Water Puddles Can Cause Lawn Damage

Water puddles or standing water on your lawn can damage its roots.

While watering your yard is good for the grass’s growth, too much water can cause damage to the soil and the roots. Worse, if the water contains toxic and harmful chemicals.

Standing water can cause soil compaction. The water pushes small soil particles in-between gaps and cracks that are supposed to be for the roots to breathe. Plus, when your lawn experiences foot traffic its more likely the soil will be compacted.

Your grass would then be suffocated. The roots can’t properly distribute nutrients to the grass. Hence, your grass will eventually die.

Soggy, damp soil is also susceptible to fungi and other insects. Some fungi thrive in wet, moist, or humid soil. Fusarium and Pythium are the most common fungi that stay in standing water.

How to Fix Standing Water on Lawn?

You have to fix the issue on standing water immediately before your soil becomes too compacted or before it causes any fungi disease.

Water puddles are sometimes caused by wrong grading and landscaping. There might be slight slopes or slides that you missed out and haven’t considered when installing an irrigation or drainage system.

It can also be because of thatch collected on the surface. Thatch allows water to stand still in the area rather than be absorbed by the soil.

Try to figure out what’s causing the water puddle in your yard and fix it right away. The most obvious fix is to install a proper drainage system that suits your yard. Look into where water flows from your lawn when you water them or where the rainfall flows.

You can either redirect the gutter system or install French drains or a sump pump to help drain out the water and not leave them standing in your yard.

If you don’t have a proper drainage system read our article called “How to Divert Water in Yard” or, read our 10 tips on how to dry up a wet yard.

3. Dethatching Can be Causing Major Lawn Damage

You might get tips that dethatching is suitable for your lawn. That is true since too much thatch can invite insects in like chinch bugs. And as stated earlier, they may also cause standing water.

So, why and when is dethatching bad for your lawn?

The key to dethatching is timing. You should not remove thatch when your plants may still be too weak. Most common wrong practices are dethatching during the early spring, especially in places with colder climates.

You have to understand that during early spring, your lawn is still recovering from its dormancy over the winter. Its roots are not as established yet, and more so its blades.

When is The Best Time to Dethatch?

Dethatching is not a problem that needs fixing; it’s just a process that requires proper timing.

This would also depend on what type of grass you have on your lawn. For warm-season grasses, you can dethatch between the end of spring and beginning of summer. This allows the grass to establish its growth and not pulled up easily.

On the other hand, cool-season grasses can be dethatched early fall, preparing for its growth for the entire season.

Remember only to dethatch when it is over half an inch thick. If not, you can leave the thatch as it is.

The Best Fix? Strengthen Your Grass Root System

There’s no better fix to your grass problems than strengthening the root system. After all, the leading cause for your grass that easily pulls up is weak roots.

There are essential practices that you should observe to improve and strengthen your root system.

For one, your mowing height matters in improving root growth. The higher you cut your grass, the deeper the roots would grow. This means that you should consider mowing your lawn a little bit higher than usual. This rule is mostly true to cool-season grasses.

You can also install proper irrigation for your plants, especially if you live in an area where there is less rainfall. Most grasses thrive when you water deeper and more frequently. This doesn’t mean you have to over-water them, though. This means that you have to water them just enough to make sure they hold enough water to sustain them for the day. You might need to water them more frequently during the summer.

Incorporating more organic matter in your soil is also a good practice. Your soil can’t be too compacted (like clay soil) or too sandy. Make sure to mix in some compost and fertilizer to allow your soil to hold water, but not too compacted that it suffocates it.

You also have to balance your soil’s pH level since high acid content can burn or damage your roots. Have your soil tested and know if it is too acidic or too alkaline. Then, amend accordingly. Add limestone if it’s too acidic, while you can use sulfur if it’s too alkaline.

What Can I Get To Fix My Grass Root System?


Lastly, you can improve your lawn’s root system by using root boosters or stimulants, just like Scotts Thick’R Lawn. It helps lawn roots grow deeper and strengthens its hold on the ground so your grass won’t be pulled easily.

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Final Thoughts

All these are useful tips to encourage a more robust root system for your lawn. After all, its overall health depends on the roots’ function to hold itself to the ground so it can absorb and distribute nutrients properly to the grass.

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