Diagnosing Problem Areas In Your Lawn

As spring settles in, most gardeners are hard at work rejuvenating their gardens and lawns following winter’s dormant period. When it comes to lawns, we are also entering a period where insects and diseases can start to make their appearance. If you have odd patches damaged, dying or dead lawn, then your first task is to identify the problem. There are a number of things that you can do immediately to try and diagnose problem patches.

There are generally four causes for problem areas in your lawn – insects, disease, soil problems, or environmental problems.

Identifying Insect Damage To Lawns

The easiest way to diagnose an insect problem in your lawn is by throwing a wet hessian bag over the problem area and leaving it there overnight. First thing in the morning, lift the bag and check to see what is either attached to the underside of the bag or what is sitting on top of the lawn.

A second method is a little quicker – cut the bottom out of a large container, push it into the ground, and fill it with soapy water (kitchen detergent is best, but use it sparingly). Check to see what sort of insect life floats out of your lawn. Count the individual species, then check with your local garden specialist to determine what are considered healthy or problem numbers. You can then treat your lawn according to the insect problem

Identifying Lawn Diseases

Lawn diseases can be a little harder to diagnose. However, if you can eliminate insects from the equation, the task becomes a little easier. Inspect the grass in the damaged areas to see if there are any obvious signs of problems. These could be staining of the grass blades or crown or any signs of foreign matter. For example, the appearance of dust or similar matter on your grass.  Take a sample of any problem grasses to garden specialist – they may be able to identify the problem and recommend a treatment.

Identifying Soil Problems Affecting Your Lawn

Soil problems that affect lawns include compaction, too much thatch, wrong PH levels, and too much nitrogen. You can test for soil compaction by trying to stick a fork into the problem areas. If it is relatively easy to push into the soil, then you don’t have a compaction problem. With thatch, you should be able to easily separate the thatch with your fingers to find the soil. If you can’t, then try dethatching your lawn.

For PH level, you can buy PH kits from any garden supplier – be sure to test several different locations around your lawn. You will be surprised at how much variation there can be. If you have been using fertilizers, then check them for nitrogen levels. At this time of year your fertilizer should be low in nitrogen as this promotes top growth and not root growth.

Identifying Environmental Problems Affecting Your Lawn

Environmental problems you can check on include shade (too much), water (lack of or too much of), traffic (foot, children’s play toys, vehicles), and intrusion by other vegetation such as lawn weeds and tree roots. You will either need to remove the environmental problem or plant a grass type that is adaptable to that environment.

Once you have identified the problem, you can proceed to take control of your lawn again. Once you have rectified any problems, you can use a lawn seeding tool to oversow the damaged patch with new grass seed. By summer, your lawn will be looking and feeling great once more.

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