Common Problems with Lawns

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Animal Quick Tips

  • You can help prevent animal problems by getting rid of potential food sources around the yard.
  • Moles and voles (field mice) make tunnels in search of food. They prefer moist lawns rich in earthworms and thick rooted plants like dandelions and thistles.
  • Seagulls, crows racoons and skunks generally dig up lawns to make a lunch of white grubs. Once you've managed those pests, they shouldn't be a bother to your lawn.

Disease Quick Tips

  • Lawn diseases are difficult to identify. They can be confused with poor growing conditions, fertilizer burn, dog urine and road salt.
  • Common diseases include redthread, leafspot, pythium blight, fusarium blight, dollar spot and brown patch. Proper mowing, watering, fertilization, and adequate potassium can help prevent lawn disease.
  • If you have fairy rings (circular or semicircular patches of dead grass with an inner green ring), spike repeatedly with a garden fork just outside the dead ring. Soak with soapy water and water frequently to increase moisture. Re-seed or re-sod dead areas.

Insect Quick Tips

  • There are many beneficial insects in and around your lawn. Good bugs: lady beetles, praying mantis, lacewings, syrphid fly larvae, dragonflies, ground beetles, bees, honey bees, moths, some flies and tiny parasitic insects and soil-dwelling insects.
  • Ants are sometimes considered a pest because they make mounds, but they do not attact grass and they are great soil aerators.
  • Chinch bug damage is likely to be found in a lawn that sufferes from dry conditions or has excessive thatch.
  • Two more reasons not to scalp your lawn: The adult beetle that is the source of white grub infestations prefers laying eggs in short grass. Also, sod webworms are more of a problem on closely cut lawns.
  • Japanese beetles are also more likely to search for a lush, green, well watered lawn to lay their eggs; making high maintenance lawns at greater risk for grub infestation.

Weed Quick Tips

  • Mow high. Raise the mower blade to three inches or the highest setting on the mower. Root growth is only as deep as the grass blade is high. Mowing higher promotes root growth, reduces weeds by 50 to 80 percent, helps lawns through dry periods and discourages insects. A credit card is a handy gauge—just over three inches long.
  • Add tolerance to your garden tools. A certain level of acceptance of weeds is a great no-cost, no-effort alternative to weed control.
  • Weeds are especially a problem for a newly-seeded lawn. Good soil preparation and late summer/early fall planting are key.
  • Use mulches.
  • If you use herbicides (weed killers), use the right product at the right time. Weeds under stress are harder to control so most applications are more effective in the spring or fall. Follow the label directions and spot treat only!