Lawn problems and how to deal with them

How to deal with lawn problems

A perfect green yard is always a dream for home owners. However, not everybody is lucky enough to have a healthy lawn. Even if you have one, maintaining and avoiding lawn problems could be a real pain.

Why would anyone have to go through all the hassle for their lawn? Here are the benefits of a healthy lawn and downside of an unhealthy lawn:

Pros of a healthy lawn:

  • Create a relaxing space: human moods can be quickly affected by looking at a green grassy area. It creates the feeling of serenity and happiness.
  • Have positive effects on environmental level: dense lawns are truly a natural protection for our ecosystem. Rainfall is absorbed better by a dense, healthy lawn. In addition, thick lawns can also prevent runoff and erosion of the top soil. Also, supporting microbes in the soil serve as a massive filter that have the ability to capture and break down many different types of common pollutants in water.
  • Increase the real estate market value: owning a vibrant and healthy lawn actually raises your home value as it looks more natural and friendly environment.
  • Help patients recover quickly: being close to natural environment is one of the key factors that hospitals are using to treat their patients.
  • A play field: fenced yard is the best place for children and pets to play.

Cons of an unhealthy lawn:

  • Decrease property value.
  • Make surround environment looks bad.
  • Increase chances for toxic weeds to develop.
  • Create living habitat for reptiles and eventually attract snakes as a result.

Lawn Problems - Healthy lawn and unhealthy lawn

Signs of an unhealthy lawn

Many things can go wrong with your lawn. Based on these signs, you can identify whether the lawn is healthy or not.

  • Lawn diseases: as summer and warmer weather comes, lawn diseases will have the best conditions to grow. At this period, thick lawn can be turned quickly into a patchy, thin lawn due to turf diseases.
  • The overwhelming presence of weeds: a lawn can be easily taken over by weeds and it would be a challenge to recover. The appearance of weeds is one of the signs to tell that your lawn is in the condition of being unhealthy.
  • Dry lawns: turf roots will dry out quickly if the lawn does not get enough water from rainfall and irrigation system. Overtime, the beautiful green grass will become dry and die out sooner or later.
  • Insect invasion: a lawn can benefit from most insects, but on the other hand, some can also destroy the lawn. White grubs, sod webworms, chinch bugs and army worm are the few destructive insects you don’t want to see. If you see an area shorter than the rest of the lawn, chances are that area has been infested and eaten by the insects.

Common mistake that cause lawn problems

Billions of dollars every year are spent on lawn care. Avoiding common mistakes in taking care of your lawn will save you a lot of money in return. Here are some mistakes you often make:

  • Mowing too low: grasses are more likely to become stress when they’re too low. Stressed grass not only needs a long time to recover but also decreases the ability to photosynthesize and regrow. Besides, scalping is also caused by mowing too short, leading to the advantageous conditions for weeds to over grow the grass. The golden rule is to always remove less than 2/3 of the grass.
  • Watering too much: sprinkler systems usually have a function of conserving and managing water. However, sometimes, mistakes occur and turn into a non-stop watering situation that leads to a huge problem for the lawn.
  • Using improper fertilizes application: most synthetic fertilizers contain nitrogen to encourage grow. They are dangerous as they can burn the grass if being applied more than the proper amount.
  • Using pesticides incorrectly: because pesticides are poisonous and can have negative effects on organisms so they should not be used as a silver bullet. All of the necessary information including how to handle, store, and use it are on the label. Make sure to follow instruction at all times.
  • Not focusing on the soil: if you planting to grow a lawn on bad soil, all the money, effort, time, and products in the world are going to be wasted. There are tons of organisms in the soil and they all have their specific functions for the plants to live. It’s best to have your soil tested before decided to plant anything.
  • Choosing a wrong type of grass for a wrong location: different species of grass need different amount of light, temperature, and soil type to grow. You may even have to have different types of grass in the same yard. It really depends on your location and region.
  • Ignoring thatch: using too much thatch can stop nutrients and water from entering the soil and thus reaching the roots. It can lead to unhealthy growing conditions which will definitely bring disease problems and weeds.
  • Excessive resource use: if maintaining a lawn is not really your passion (or career), you should not spend too many resources on it. Resources here include labor, money, time, pesticides and water. Chasing a perfect lawn is like you want to look like a magazine cover model. Most of us would never be like the model but we still rush to buy the clothes. Sometimes, all you need is take a step back and determine again what really is important for you and your property.

Maintain healthy lawn

You don’t need to become a lawn expert to have a healthy lawn. Some following tips might help you:

  • Mow high: Never cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade when you mow. If you want your lawn to grow to just 1 inch, you need to mow them when it reaches 1.5 inches, in other words, every 2 to 5 days. Remember, if you mow the lawn to a 3-inch height, it will help grass outcompete weeds. And one thing to remember, just mow when it’s not really hot in order to avoid stressing both yourself and the grass.
  • Keep your mower sharp: dull blades just tear the grass rather than cut it. In addition to that, dull blades will create the wounds that allow disease pathogens to invade grass plants. Best advice is to file your blade regularly, even replace damaged blades.
    • A balanced and sharp, well-maintained blade can cuts grass evenly and cleanly.
    • A dull or poorly-maintained blade shreds grass, making it more susceptible to disease and may need more nutrients to repair the damage.
  • Leave the clippings: Clippings do not create thatch. If you mow only 1/3 the height of the grass at every time, the clippings cannot smother the grass either. To chop up clippings, use mulching mowers. They can settle under the grass and on the soil surface. Then they will incorporate into the soil thanks to earthworms, this can help improve the ability to hold water in the drought season and its drainage after storms. Clipping should not be dispersed into gutters or pavements because they can cause pollution as washed into storm sewers, then reach streams and lakes.
  • Don’t fertilize early: Fertilizing in early spring will create stress because of excessive growth. Do not use fertilizer on saturated or frozen soil, or on top of snow. It would be a waste of fertilizer as it would enter lakes and streams instead of incorporates into the soil. Fertilizing in fall would be a best idea, usually two weeks after the last mowing. By doing this, fertilizer will be absorbed in to the soil in order for grass to develop root reserves. They can survive through winter and have a healthy starting point next spring.
  • Watch your water: watering at night is a bad idea. Wet grass will invites diseases. Best time to water is around 4.a.m to 8.a.m. During that time, the leaves will quickly dry from morning sunlight. During long time drought, stop watering and let grass go to its dormant state.
  • Aerate the lawn regularly to help it breathe: grass roots need oxygen as well as water and nutrient. Aerating – the practice of removing small plugs of soil – can create multiple benefits. It helps improve air circulation in the soil. It allows fertilizer and water to penetrate into soil easier. At the same time, it reduces soil compaction and create more spaces for the roots to grow. A gas-powered aerator is the best tool to choose and it is also available at most rental centers.
  • Spray sparingly: never use lawn pesticides before examining the lawn problems. Just try to keep a healthy root system and the grass will be able to tolerate most insect damage.
  • Fill in weak spots: use a rake to enhance the quality of the soil where the ground is bare or weeds flourish. Then regrow a variety of grass that are best-suited to the site. If your lawn still has mostly bare spots or a lot of weeds, consider a renovation or a full recover project.
  • Taking care of unwanted weeds: when it comes to fertilizers and weed killers, you need to take into consideration many things such as grass species, geographic location, soil condition, and weed types. But here are a few common guidelines:
    • The best defense is a healthy, thick lawn that does not provide weed seeds enough open space or sunlight to germinate.
    • Attack weeds in the summer or the early spring before they are prepared to develop deep root systems or reproduce.
    • Use different methods and chemicals to deal with different weeds. It is best to get rid of grassy weeds like crabgrass by using pre-emergent weed killers, which will destroy germinating plants at the time they sprout. Broadleaf weeds need to be destroyed while they are young and actively growing.
    • Fertilize in early spring in order to encourage root development. Feedings in the fall can help repair summer damage promote the root growth that can go on for several weeks after the top growth stops. This allows the grass to survive the winter more easily. Light feedings along the way help maintain healthy growth.
    • Garden centers or nurseries that are familiar with local conditions are the best resourced for you to identify and handle weeds problems.
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