Common Lawn Issues and Solutions
We all want a beautiful, healthy lawn of which we can be proud. When your lawn is not looking its best, the first step is to find out why. Without identifying the source of the initial problem, the issue is likely to repeat itself and you will end up spending time and money achieving the same poor results. Keep reading to discover the possible causes of your lawn's ill health and how to correct the problems.
Issue: Brown lawn
Solution: A brown lawn is often one of the easiest problems to fix, as it usually indicates simply a lack of water. Grass that has turned brown should spring back to green within one to two weeks of receiving the proper amount of water. As a general rule, your lawn should receive one to two inches of water per week, including rain. After your lawn is established, it should be watered only once a week. More frequent watering will cause roots to grow shallow, making the grass more susceptible to drought. If your region experiences a particularly dry, hot summer, set your sprinklers to run early in the morning before the full sun hits the lawn. This will help hydrate the grass for the day without the water particles magnifying the sun's rays and further scorching the grass blades. Water the lawn twice a week during long droughts.
Issue: Brown tips after mowing
Solution: If you notice the tips of your lawn turning brown after you mow, you might assume that hot weather or drought is to blame. In fact, it may be that your lawn mower blades are dull. Sharp blades will produce a clean cut across the grass, whereas dull blades cause the grass to rip. A clean cut is less damaging to the plant structure and will create a more beautiful freshly-mown lawn.
Issue: Dead or bare spots
Dead or bare patches are unsightly and can be caused by several issues including water intake, traffic, sun exposure, or animal damage.
Solution: Check your grass type to make sure it is conducive to your yard. Some grasses grow better in sun or shade and some perform better in high traffic areas. If you find that the incorrect grass is planted, rake the area to remove dead grass or thatch. Seed and fertilize with a high-quality grass seed that is
recommended for your conditions. Water several times a
week until sprouts are established.
If the bare area is in a high or low point in the yard, watch the way water moves in the area. If water collects in a low spot and is slow to drain, you may need to level out the area. If water runs off a high point without being absorbed, you have several options. You can water the area more deeply, break up the earth to increase absorption, or dig down to level out the area.
If you have a dog, the nitrogen in its urine may be killing off your lawn. Create a small bed of mulch in an inconspicuous area of the yard for your dog's potty spot. Place nitrogen-loving or potted plants on the mulch bed to liven up its appearance.
Rodents can be another cause of bare spots. If you see shallow ruts wiggling in random patterns around your yard, this is usually an indication of a burrowing animal infestation. Use repellents or traps to remove the rodents, and the existing ruts should grow over by themselves. If not, plant new seed, fertilize, and water regularly for two weeks while new sprouts develop.
Issue: Thin lawn
As grass ages, it naturally produces less sprouts and slowly thins out. A newer lawn may be thin due to incorrect seeding, fertilizing, or watering.
Solution: Over-seeding is often used in warmer climates to apply a cool-season grass seed to keep a lawn green in the cold months. However, it can also be used in northern areas of the U.S. to produce a thicker lawn. Make sure you choose a seed that is the same or compatible with the grass that is already growing. Choose a high-quality seed with a good germination rate. Some grass seed is pre-mixed with mulch, which allows you to spread the seed and protect it in one step. However, depending on the thickness of your current lawn, you might want to choose a seed that does not include mulch, since the existing grass can act as a protective barrier for the new seeds and sprouts.
Check the amount of thatch currently on your lawn; more than a half inch of thatch will prevent the seeds from reaching soil and the seeds will not sprout. Set your mower to a low setting and mow your lawn immediately before applying the new seed. This will give the seed greater opportunity to reach the soil and germinate. Apply a fertilizer. Water the lawn several times a week for the first two weeks while the new sprouts are being established.
Insects can cause lawn damage, but are usually more of an annoyance to people and animals than the lawn itself. Japanese beetles and grubs are an exception and will eat grass (among other plants) and cause brown patches to appear on your lawn. The grub feeds underground on roots and weakens or kills the grass above. The beetle feeds above ground only in mid-summer, so if you see a lot of brown spots or leaves eaten down to their skeletons in late June to early August, this pest may be to blame for damage above and below the surface.
Solution: With little competition for food supply, populations of Japanese beetles tend to increase quickly. Before you have a grub problem, use Menards® Premium Grub Control (263-2000) for season long control of grub problems. It can be applied anytime throughout the summer and provides protection throughout the season. If your lawn or garden is already affected by the insect, apply a grub or beetle control product such as Bayer 24-Hour Grub Killer (263-4161).
This gray mold appears on lawns after the snow melts in the spring. Snow mold can cause your spring lawn to take on an ugly, dead appearance and can eventually cause bare spots.
Solution: Snow mold thrives in temperatures between thirty and forty degrees. Generally, grass will bounce back on its own once temperatures warm and the mold dies off. In cases where there is a lot of mold or temperatures remain in the thirty to forty degree range for an extended amount of time, the mold and dead grass may need to be raked away. If raking produces large bare spots, fill in the area with grass seed, fertilize, and water several times a week until new growth is firmly established.
Snow mold can be prevented or reduced by taking a few simple steps in the fall. Mow your lawn a bit shorter for the final mow in the fall and make sure to rake up the last of the autumn leaves. This will give the mold a less hospitable environment in which to grow once the snow begins to melt in the spring. When fertilizing for the winter, make sure to choose a winter-specific fertilizer, which should have less nitrogen but still give your lawn the nutrients it needs to survive the winter.
Not to be confused with dead spots that appear very similar, brown patch fungus is a fungal disease that will thrive in very hot, humid weather. If brown patches appear where you believe the lawn is receiving plenty (or too much) water, the culprit might be brown patch fungus. A telltale sign of brown patch fungus is the circular pattern of the patches. Sometimes the center of the affected area will recover, creating a ring rather than a full circle of brown patch.
Solution: Brown patch will die out in dry conditions. Reduce the amount of water for that area of the lawn. If this does not solve the problem, use an anti-fungal treatment such as Bayer Fungus Control for Lawns (263-6072). Make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Whether your lawn is suffering from drought or pest invasion, fungus or mold, a simple solution is usually available. Come into Menards® to talk with our Garden Center experts and get the products you need to achieve a picture-perfect lawn.