How to Identify and Combat Common Lawn Issues

Maintaining a lawn can be a full time job, so to save you some time in figuring out the best methods to look after your lawn, here are some insights into common issues you may encounter.

Bare Spots

Bare spots are one of the most common obvious signs of lawn damage. If you’re finding that your turf is thinning, then hopefully this should help.

Problem: Bare spots are areas of your lawn where you are noticing reduced grass growth. They are almost always caused by excessive foot traffic, though other causes may include:

  • Pet Urine
  • Grub infestation
  • Poor soil conditions
  • Chemical spills
  • Fungal disease
  • Buried rocks

Solution: The first thing to do is to determine what the cause is, and make sure that you limit the exposure that your lawn faces. Once the cause is resolved, the fix is relatively easy. First, you should clear the patch down to the soi, and turn over the soil a bit. Then, place down grass seed into the turned soil, cover with compost and fertilizer and allow it to grow.

Weeds

Another common issue found in most lawns are weeds, which can starve your grass of the nutrients and oxygen that it needs to thrive. Additionally, many weeds can be an eyesore.

Problem: Weeds come in all shapes and sizes, depending on the time of the year, your location and the makeup of your soil. The first step in resolving your weed issue is to identify the weeds with which you are dealing. Common types of weeds in Maryland and Virginia include:

Solution: Having identified the weeds that you are contending with, there are a number of different natural and man-made solutions that you can then use to get rid of them. Some of these potential solutions include using mulch and corn gluten amongst other things. For a more detailed look at what solutions would be the best for your lawn, see https://www.bladesofgreen.com/blog/how-get-rid-weeds.

Lawn Diseases

Lawn diseases is a blanket term to cover a number of bacterial or fungal infections that can damage your lawn—such as Brown Patch, Dollar Spot, Red Thread, Fairy Rings, or Summer Patch.

Problem: Lawn diseases are a relatively common issue with lawn growth. However, they are known to have more of an effect on less maintained lawns.That doesn’t mean constant maintenance will prevent them, so make sure that you are keeping an eye out for some of the common signs of lawn disease, including:

  • Changes in your grass coloring.
  • White spindly threads across the grass.
  • Slime coating on your grass.
  • Dead patches in the turf.

Solution: The easiest way to deal with lawn disease is regular maintenance. Keeping your lawn trimmed, following an aeration and seeding regimen, and making sure that you water only when your grass has time to dry are key to a healthy lawn. If you are in the midst of a diseased lawn, then there are a number of fungicides which can help depending on your specific lawn disease. It’s best to work with a professional lawn care technician when applying fungicides to prevent unnecessary damage.

Compacted Soil

Compacted soil usually refers to soil that has been compressed whether due to foot traffic, falling debris, or just time passing. This can have numerous adverse effects on your grass which may only show when the problem is severe.

Problem: Compacted soil makes it much more difficult for your lawn to get the nutrients and the oxygen that it requires to thrive. Compaction is not something that you can avoid, but it is a problem that is best solved before the winter, ideally in the fall.

Solution: The solution to compacted soil is aeration. Lawn aeration is the process of breaking up the thatch that accumulates in your turf, either using machinery or a liquid solution. Both methods have their pros and cons, but should absolutely be a part of your lawn care plans.

Heavy Rain

Water is vital to almost all life on earth, but like in a lot of situations, too much of a good thing can end up causing more problems. Too much water on your lawn, whether from rain or from overwatering, is one of those situations.

Problem: Too much water on your lawn presents you with a number of problems which need to be addressed to keep your lawn healthy:

  • Excess water will dilute the soil nutrients, ‘starving’ your grass of the vital ingredients that it needs.
  • Standing surface water can become a hotbed for mosquito breeding.
  • Moisture accumulation can lead to some of the aforementioned lawn diseases.

Solution: Whilst obviously it is impractical to cover your entire lawn every time there is heavy rainfall, there are a number of things you can do to help your lawn recover after heavy rain.

  • Immediately after the rain the most important thing to do is leave your lawn to dry.
  • Make sure that nobody is walking over it, that you’re not mowing, and unless there are very large puddles, allow the lawn to drain and dry naturally.
  • Once dry, you can look at using additional topsoil to cover any exposed roots or improve your lawn’s natural drainage.

Drought

Whilst too much water is a problem, so is too little. Droughts can happen at any time of the year, not just when it is hot, so it pays to be vigilant.

Problem: Water is a vital resource for lawn health, and if your lawn is deprived of it, it can lead to a whole host of problems. Catching the signs of lawn drought early will allow you to water your lawn appropriately to bring it back to health. Keep an eye out in particular for changing lawn color and dry soil as some of the early signs of drought.

Solution: Predictably, the solution to a lack of water is to add water. However, if your lawn has been going through an extended period of drought, you need to be careful about how and when you add the water, as it can potentially cause more harm than good. When you begin watering your lawn, make sure that you are keeping a consistent schedule and watering at the right time of day.

Mole & Vole Damage

Moles and voles are some of the common rodents that love to make a home in your lawn, and whilst they sound similar, they actually have some quite profound differences.

Problem: The main issue with both of these animals is how their burrowing will affect your lawn. Some of the things that make moles and voles different are that:

  • Moles burrow in search of food, leaving their trademark mud mountains spotted around the lawn as they move throughout your yard. Whilst ugly, there will be very little sustained damage to the foundation of your grass.
  • Voles on the other hand love to feed off of grass roots and other underground plant matter, so can cause severe lawn damage.

Solution: Prevention is your best option—by keeping your lawn well maintained, not allowing any obvious hiding spots like leaf piles, and planting naturally repelling plants. However, if there are already rodents in your yard, then you are going to need professional help. Blades of Green offers mole and vole removal services.

Grubs

Grubs are the collective name for a number of small beetle larvae, which are laid in your lawn for their infant stage of life, and bring a number of different challenges with them.

Problem: Grubs thrive underneath the surface, eating grass roots for sustenance until they grow enough to leave. Not only will the grubs dig up your yard leaving you with a large mess to deal with, but they can also attract other rodents and birds which want to snack on them.

Solution: As with our common theme, prevention is your best hope, and regular lawn aeration is one of the best things you can do to keep them out. If you need to remove existing grubs from your lawn, your best bet is professional grub control, as they can target the specific grub that you are struggling with.

How to Properly Care for Your Lawn

As we have seen, ongoing lawn maintenance is one of the easiest ways to make sure that you don’t have to struggle with some of the problems which we have discussed. Here are a few general lawn care tips that can help your lawn thrive:

Test Your Soil

Understanding the makeup of your soil, from its pH to its nutrient balance, will give you the best idea of what you need to do to keep your lawn healthy. In many cases, you can use a home soil testing kit or work with a lawn care professional to run a more extensive test.

Select the Right Grass

Something you may not know is that there are in fact a number of different common grass species throughout the US, and they each have their own quirks. Some grasses do better in hot climates than others, while others are more resistant to lawn pests, and still others can grow with less water. If creating a new lawn, make sure that you are choosing a grass which works in your location and for your lifestyle.

Some of the most popular grass types include:

  • Fine fescue
  • Kentucky bluegrass
  • Tall fescue
  • Zoysia grass
  • Perennial Ryegrass
  • Augustine grass

Each of these grasses have different requirements, so make sure to make a careful grass choice.

Mow Frequently

Keeping your lawn mowed is one of the biggest things you can do to keep your lawn looking well kept. However, it provides many more benefits than that. Mowing your lawn regularly to the correct height will increase the thickness and health of your lawn by preventing your grass from expending too many resources in overgrowing. If you are mowing your own lawn, make sure that your blades are nice and sharp, as dull blades will rip and tear the grass, damaging the lawn and increasing the chances of lawn disease.

Water Correctly

As we have seen, making sure that your grass is getting the water that it needs is one of the easiest ways to help keep your lawn healthy. In general, your grass will need around an inch of water a week when fully grown to stay healthy. If you are not getting much natural rainfall, then your watering should occur at around the same time every week, as consistent watering is of great help to your lawn.

Hire a Professional Lawn Care Company

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, then Blades of Green is here to help. As a local lawn care company, we work harder for you and your lawn than some other big chains.

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