The best way to keep your lawn looking great year after year is to fertilize, water, mow, and to do weed control. It sounds pretty simple, but within these major practices there is a lot that can go wrong. When fertilizing, it is easy to apply too much fertilizer, resulting in burning your grass; or not fertilizing enough, which results in an ineffective treatment. Using the wrong fertilizers for your lawn can also result in issues. Watering is another practice that is easy to overdo. Many homeowners tend to over-water, which can result in disease, weeds, and unwanted pests. When mowing, many homeowners don’t realize that different varieties of grass require different mowing heights for optimal results. Furthermore, often grass will be allowed to grow too long, resulting in cutting too much off at one time–a practice which can then shock grass and make it more susceptible to disease and infestation. Lastly, homeowners need a good year-round weed control program, using the right products, or their lawn will become overrun with invaders.
Knowing the best cultural practices and managing turf properly can eliminate almost all lawn problems. Good practices and proper lawn care will create a thick, dense, healthy carpet of grass that is resistant to weeds, disease, and pest control issues. Here are the top 10 lawn problems and some tips for managing them.
Weeds are the bane of the existence of an otherwise healthy lawn. When weeds begin poking through, it is crucial to eliminate them to prevent other issues. Good weed control practices with pre-emergent and post-emergent treatments year-round can help keep these herbaceous invaders at bay and keep your lawn looking its best. Broadleaf weeds present fewer problems than grassy weeds in most cases. Grassy weeds are difficult to eliminate once established.
2) Not Enough Sunshine
All plants need three things to grow: sun, water, and air. When there is insufficient sunlight, plants cannot photosynthesize. The result is thinning or dying grass. Make sure to allow ample sunlight for a green lawn. Trim branches around trees if necessary and grow shade-resilient varieties in areas that don’t get as much sunlight in your yard. For areas where there is a lot of shade, replace grass with other types of ground cover that do well in shady areas.
3) Not Enough Watering/Drought
While most homeowners tend to err on the side of over-watering, under-watering can also cause grass to wilt, brown, and die. It can also cause soil compaction as the soil cakes and cracks, making areas of lawn more susceptible to weedy invaders. Watering in the early morning every couple of days is typically sufficient for most lawns. Clay soils will need less water, while sandy soils will need more.
4) Lawn Diseases
Lawn diseases are one of the most challenging lawn problems to manage. Most are fungal, and in many cases homeowners see areas of grass dying and assume it is due to lack of water. The result is over-watering, which can further the course of disease in turf. Lawn treatments geared toward the specific fungus can clear up most of these problems, though it may take many treatments to eliminate the disease.
5) Damaging Lawn Pests
While most insects are harmless to turf, some lawn pests can take root in your yard and cause severe damage. Lawn pests can be harmful to your pets, your family, and cause damage to your lawn and landscape. Lawn treatments aimed at pest control can keep these pests at bay while keeping your family and your turf safe.
This is one of the most common problems with lawn maintenance. Overwatering can cause fungal infections and suffocate lawn roots. Too much water can also draw insects, and other invasive creatures such as moles and voles to your lawn as muddy soil makes it easier to burrow and dig. Grass roots need to breathe, and surrounding them with water all the time is not healthy.
7) Poor Mowing Practices
One of the most common poor mowing practices is cutting grass with a dull blade. Using a dull blade rips the top of the grass, which takes longer to heal and makes turf more susceptible to disease. When mowing, make sure your blade is sharp, as this allows for cleaner cuts and a more even appearance. Grass heals more quickly and makes grass less susceptible to disease or weeds.
8) Animal Damage
Whether it is moles and voles that have burrowed into your lawn or raccoons and skunks digging for dinner, good lawn care can be the key. Proper lawn maintenance can prevent moles and voles from tunneling in your yard as soil that is balanced and healthy is less desirable for digging. It can also prevent skunks and raccoons from digging for grubs and worms in your soil as proper lawn care and good maintenance deters grubs and armyworms from invading.
If it is the family pet causing yellow spots on your grass from urine, there are also a few ways to manage these spots. Dog urine is high in Nitrogen, which acts as a fertilizer. Too much can cause burns in places, leaving yellow spots in your lawn. Diluting spots where pets eliminate can help neutralize the Nitrogen in the yard. Furthermore, encouraging your pet to eliminate in only one place will help reduce yellow patches all over your yard.
9) Overseeding with the Wrong Seed
In many cases, homeowners will overseed their lawns with whatever they grab off the shelf at the local store. This can not only cause serious weed invasions, but it can create competition among two different varieties of grass throughout your yard. Every neighborhood in the Southeast has at least one homeowner who has overseeded Bermuda or zoysia with fescue, which can be a lawn care nightmare! This almost always leads to a grassy weed infestation, which is challenging to treat and eliminate in turf. When in doubt about the type of grass you have established in your lawn, contact a professional lawn service.
10) Bare Spots, Divots, and Sunken Areas
Treating these common lawn problems can depend on the type of grass you have. Bare spots in fescue can be repaired by overseeding. For zoysia or Bermuda lawns, laying sod into bare spots is the best way of repairing these areas. For eliminating divots from the yard, fill with soil or sand, which will help encourage faster lawn spread in warm-season grasses. For sunken areas, it is generally best to cut out the top layer of turf and fill the area with soil. After evening out the sunken areas, lay the turf back down on top of the soil. For sunken areas in fescue, simply fill with soil and re-seed the top layer.
Some basic good lawn maintenance practices can eliminate a lot of the most common lawn problems. Proper fertilizing, watering, and mowing will help keep a green lawn that is thick and resistant to disease and weeds. It requires less work and more enjoyment of your beautiful outdoor space. When in doubt, a professional lawn service can help get the yard of your dreams at a great value.