Those brown areas in your lawn could be caused by a lawn disease (fungus), lawn insects, or hot dry weather. So how do you figure out if a lawn disease is the problem?
Experts look for brown, black, white or reddish spots on the individual grass blades or circular brown patches of grass where the fungus has spread from the center. Sometimes lawn fungus problems show up in the same area each year.
There are a range of lawn diseases that show up with warm, humid weather. These fungus problems are especially active when your night temperatures and humidity do not drop very much from the levels you are experiencing during daytime hours. You can help your situation by not watering your lawn in the evening as this helps to hold humidity at high levels next to your grass plants for an extended period of time. Experts will always suggest that if you have to water, it is best to irrigate in the morning. Lawns located where air movement is restricted by a fence or hedge generally experience more lawn disease problems as compared to more open areas.
You can help strengthen your grass by not under or over-feeding and by mowing at a taller height. You can also help strengthen your lawn with the newer grass varieties. Many of the grass seed varieties that are available in the top-of-the line seed blends today, like the Scotts Turf Builder Grass Seed line, have improved resistance to lawn fungus disease built right in compared to the older grass varieties.
Use the photos and descriptions below tell if you have some of the more common lawn disease problems in your lawn.
If you need to protect your grass from lawn fungus, Scotts Lawn Fungus Control is a good “systemic” cure, which means the active ingredient is absorbed into your grass plants to protect them from the inside. (Other “contact” controls are not as effective because they must stay on the grass blade leaf surface which means you need to spray frequently as you mow).
Crabgrass is an “annual” weed, which means it germinates in spring, then in summer the plants produce seed and then it dies in fall with the first frost. Spring applied crabgrass preventers will stop most of the seeds from growing, however generally not all of them. Just when your lawn is thinned from fungus disease or insects, a stray crabgrass seed germinates in the weakened areas. The crabgrass then hunkers down flat where your lawnmower can’t reach and spreads to choke out your remaining good grass. Each plant produces seeds… lots of seeds! These seeds then germinate next spring so even more crabgrass plants can threaten to win the battle for your lawn.
If you decide to wait till fall to let the frost kill your crabgrass, you will miss the chance to kill it before it produces all those seeds. Spray crabgrass now with Ortho Weed B Gon MAX plus Crabgrass Control. You can use this spray on any lawn type except St. Augustine, Centipede and Bahia. This spray works best when you go after younger crabgrass plants. For larger crabgrass plants you may need to repeat your spray in 2 to 3 weeks. And the good news: This spray also kills over 200 other types of weeds without harming your good grass. It is best to spray on a day when your daytime high temps will stay between 45 and 90 degrees.
Tiny insects that you can’t even see can attack your lawn during summer. One indication that they may show up is when you see moths fly from your lawn when you mow or walk on your grass during early evening hours. These moths do not damage your lawn, however they lay eggs for insects like sod webworms and cutworms that can cause your lawn to thin and turn brown. Other insects, like chinch bugs can kill grass in sunny areas during this time of year.
You can protect your lawn while feeding it with a special summer lawn food called Scotts Turf Builder with SummerGuard. This product also takes care of other insects like fleas, ticks and ants. If your lawn does not need feeding, you can spread Ortho Bug B Gon MAX on your lawn to take care of these insect problems. Water your lawn after spreading to help activate the control and feeding. It is OK for your pets and kids to play on the lawn after it has dried.
Oh by the way, it is ok if you still see some moths after treating, since they do no damage. You have protected your lawn from the damage caused by their hatching eggs for about 6 weeks or so.
We have had such great success growing veggies on our deck with self-watering planters that this year we decided to expand from 3 to 6 planters. These planters hold about 4 gallons of water and are on rollers so they can be moved. (Here is a link to more info on the planters we are using.)
This year after the last of our spring harvest from our deck planters (kale, spinach, lettuce) we planted our summer veggies. One planter has 2 – Better Bush Tomato plants, one has 3 – Padron Pepper plants, one has 4 – Picklebush Cucumbers, one has 3 – Betterbush Butternut Squash, one has Bush Green Beans, and the last one has Arugula. Around mid-September we will plant them with lettuce, kale and spinach.
The soil is Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix. We have found it is best to start with fresh soil each year and clean the roots out of the water reservoir. We also added some fresh soil to the top 4 inches when we planted our summer veggies. We fed the plants with Osmocote Plant Food when we planted them.
Some lawns need feeding. Some Southern lawns (like Bermuda, St. Augustine and Zoysia) love to be fed at two month intervals from spring to fall for a total of about 4 feedings a year. Centipede only likes two or three feedings a year from late spring to late summer. Scotts GreenMAX Lawn Food, Scotts Turf Builder or Scotts Natural Lawn Food are good choices for this time of year. If you have already fed your Northern lawn (like Bluegrass, Fescue and Ryegrass) twice this year you can skip feeding until later in summer. However, if your Northern lawn has not been fed in a while and you live in an area where night time temps drop, you can give your lawn a feeding.
Protect your lawn from insects. Tiny insects can attack your lawn during summer causing it to thin and turn brown. One indication that they may show up is when you see moths fly from your lawn when you mow or walk on your grass during early evening hours. These moths do not damage your lawn, however they lay eggs for insects like sod webworms and cutworms that can cause your lawn to thin and turn brown. Other insects, like chinch bugs can show up about the same time. You can protect your lawn while feeding it with a special summer lawn food called Scotts Turf Builder with SummerGuard. This product also takes care of other insects like fleas, ticks and ants. If your lawn does not need feeding, you can spread Ortho Bug B Gon MAX on your lawn to take care of any insect problems. Oh by the way, it is ok if you still see some moths after treating, since they do no damage. You have protected your lawn from the damage caused by their hatching eggs for about 6 weeks or so.
Kill lawn weeds if they are growing. Weeds are harder to kill if they are not actively growing. Most weed controls are designed to work if your temperatures are between 60 and 90 degrees, so check the label for suggestions to get best results. Ortho Weed B Gon MAX plus Crabgrass Killer takes care of most weeds. Do not use on Floratam (a variety of St. Augustinegrass), Centipede or Bahiagrass lawns. Ortho Nutsedge Killer and Ortho Weed B Gon Chickweed & Clover Killer are also options depending on where you live and your lawn type.
Treat lawn fungus problems if needed. Circular patches of browning grass or individual grass blades with spots on them are an indication of lawn fungus problems. Some of these problems will go away with shifting weather, however if they persist or if you have certain areas of your lawn that are prone to fungus problems each summer, you can treat with Scotts Lawn Fungus Control.
Mow your grass taller. Taller grass blades mean deeper roots to match the leaf growth. So adjust your mower to leave your grass height at around 2-1/2 to 4 inches for Bluegrass, Ryegrass and Fescue, 2 to 4 inches for St. Augustinegrass and Bahiagrass, 1 to 3 inches for Centipedegrass, 1/2 to 2 inches for Bermudagrass, 3 /4 to 2 inches for Zoysia
Water Sensibly. If you are able to water without restrictions and you want to keep your grass from going dormant, a half inch twice a week is better than a small amount every day. This helps to encourage deeper roots. Place a tall straight sided/flat bottomed glass or a rain gauge on your lawn while your sprinklers are running then measure the depth of water that accumulates in the glass to help calculate how long to run your sprinklers to put down a half inch. You would only need to do this once to help figure out your sprinkler system. If you can, water in early morning when there is less wind and evaporation.
In the old days I creamed a ground cover with the harsh runoff from a patio cleaner spray. That is why I now use a product that is chlorine bleach-free so it is safe to use around lawns and plants. Scotts Outdoor Cleaner Plus OxiClean can be used on multiple surfaces such as: concrete/brick, wood, composite wood, vinyl, patio furniture (including outdoor fabrics), roofing shingles, fiberglass, painted metals, etc. It comes in a ready to use spray bottle, ready to use hose-end bottle and in a concentrate to use in your own sprayer or power washer. You will see it work on stains from moss, mold, mildew and algae. You just let the solution set for a few minutes. For best results, scrub as needed then lightly rinse with water or wipe off with a clean cloth or towel.
One of the most searched subjects on my blog right now is whether it is too late to put down Scotts GrubEx. The GrubEx package directions say to apply spring to summer. If you have been reading my blog postings, I have written that Scotts entomologists and those with University Extension Services suggest the best timing is in May to give the product time to be washed into the soil to protect the lawn from the grubs that will show up in late summer. If you were able to follow that advice you are all set as your single application will protect your lawn.
If you did not get your GrubEx down yet and you are starting to see lots of Japanese Beetles on your roses and other plants or you are starting to see one of the many other kinds of beetles hanging around your porch light at night, you still have time to protect your lawn… but you need to hurry. For best results be sure to give your lawn a good watering of at least a half inch after you spread your GrubEx. It is OK for your pets and kids to play on your lawn after the grass has dried.
One last tip regarding moles: Since GrubEx does not eliminate earthworms in your lawn you are still likely to get moles even though the grubs are not present. For moles, click here to check out this info on the options from TOMCAT.