Lawn Problems

Lawn care isn’t difficult and doesn’t need to be expensive. It’s a matter of understanding what’s going on and what’s really happening when things don’t look right.

Every lawn and landscape has its share of problems. If you don’t see the problems, it’s because you’re not sure what to look for.

Lawn ProblemsWith a little knowledge, a sense of timing and a few helpful hints, even beginners can achieve results that will have the neighbors seeking their advice. Lawn problems fall into 3 major categories:

Soil Problems

Insect Problems


Symptoms of problems

Usually you’re aware something’s wrong when your lawn doesn’t look right. Either the grass is dead in spots, turned a different color, is wilted, or you see an increase in weeds. Most of these symptoms are the sign that your lawn isn't in the best of health.

Identifying exactly what is wrong your lawn can be difficult and some problems have the same appearance as other unrelated problems. Perhaps the best and quickest solution is to speak with an experienced and trained person. That could be a local lawn care professional or a County Extension agent. A professional will come out to physically look at your lawn. A County Extension agent will require you to usually visit them. In that case you will want to take a fresh sample of your lawn, including a root mass. It does almost no good to take a few lawn clippings to make an identification of the problem. Put the sample in a cardboard box (not a plastic bag).

First question: Has anybody done anything different in the last month?
For example, you’ve got a large dead spot in the exact same place you spilled gasoline filling the mower 2 weeks ago. The cause and effect is obvious. You won’t go out and buy some insect control and spray on your lawn because you thought some voracious insect had killed your lawn there. You wouldn’t suddenly start watering the area because you thought it was from lack of water. The spilled gasoline killed the lawn. Sometimes lawn problems are that easy to identify.

Look for the most obvious cause.

If the answer to the above question is no, there is no obvious cause for the dead spots in the lawn, then look at the scope of the problem area.

Is there just one dead spot in the lawn, or are there many dead spots? Do the dead grass areas seem to be where your new puppy frequents? Are the spots just in the backyard, or are they in front and back equally? If dead spots are equally in both the front and back lawns, these are likely signs of insect damage. Do some excavating to see if you can find any grubs, molecrickets, or chinchbugs in the damaged lawn areas. As grubs begin to mature their appetite grows and they chew at the roots, so do sod webworms. If you find these insects, then treat for them accordingly at the appropriate time of year when treatments are more likely to be effective. In this instance, when grub damage becomes apparent, it's already too late to treat for them. But it's not too late to prevent the same thing happening next year.

Other poor lawn health symptoms

If the lawn isn’t obviously dead brown, are there other visible changes: yellowing, orangish-red tinge, spots on the leaf blades? These are signs of a fungal infestations.

If weeds are taking over your lawn, this is a sign there's either a soil problem or a light problem. Weeds are opportunistic plants. They have to have the right conditions to take hold. That means they require access to light. If you have a healthy thick lawn, very little light reaches the soil. But, if your lawn has thinned out, more light reaches the soil and the weed seeds can then germinate and take hold. You need to examine why your lawn has thinned out. This could be because your lawn hasn't received enough nutrients to grow properly, your soil is compacted, thatch buildup has reduced your lawn's ability to extract nutrients from the soil, or there's too much shade / sunlight for the type of grass you're trying to grow.

Have nutrients been applied to the lawn on a regular basis? Is the soil compacted? Is there a too thick layer of thatch? Is the soil dried out from lack of water? These are all problems that can cause a lawn to thin out and provide an opening for weeds to grow. Often problems result from multiple sources. A lawn that isn't fertilized properly and probably isn't being aerated regularly. Fungal attacks and other lawn diseases also attack these neglected lawns.

Identify and correct underlying causes of problems

Understand the cause before treating the symptoms. Occasional weeds are expected. When weeds become more than just a minor occurrence you have to start looking at the underlying cause of your lawn’s lack of vitality. When turf grass loses its vitality, then it opens up areas for weeds to take hold.

If all of this seems like more involvement with your lawn than you want to experience, don’t worry. Professional lawn care providers are extremely helpful when you have problems. They have encountered just about every lawn problem known and can identify it and know how to treat it. Give one of these companies a call and they’ll be more than happy to help you out.