Warmer weather has finally arrived! Blue skies, sunny days, and beautiful green lawns beckon us to play outside. But, wait… what’s that? A brown spot in your lawn! Where did that come from? The culprit may be an insect infestation, poor fertilization application, or even your family pet. Use this simple guide to help diagnose the problem.
◻ Brown spots, sometimes surrounded by a halo of green – These are hallmarks of dog urine spots. The high concentration of nitrogen and salts in animal urine causes damage and, occasionally, greener growth. There is no treatment for dog spots other than removing the dead turf and patching or reseeding. It may be possible to reduce the damage by increasing irrigation to dilute the salts. Make sure your dog drinks plenty of water to naturally dilute the urine and try to train Fido to use a mulched area as a potty instead.
◻ Sudden brown spots – These are likely from an accidental spill. Check your mower for gasoline leaks and take special care when mixing fertilizer, herbicides, or outdoor detergents for vehicles and patio furniture.
◻ Blades of grass are brown at tips and edges – Sharpen your mower blade. A dull blade shreds leaf tips instead of providing a nice, clean cut. Shredded edges burn easier and invite disease.
◻ Brown patches over raised areas of the lawn – Raise your mower height because you are “scalping” your lawn on these raised areas. In fact, you may even be cutting into the crown severely damaging your lawn.
◻ Alternating streaks of brown and dark green grass – This indicates improper fertilizer application, possibly by an incorrect application pattern or spreader miscalibration. Check your fertilizer products and equipment carefully before the next application.
◻ Irregular areas of brown grass, leaves look chewed and ragged – You may have a sod webworm or armyworm infestation. To test the theory, mix 1 ounce of dish detergent in I gallon of water and apply to 1 square yard of the damaged area. The detergent irritates the insects and they rise to the top. More than 15 little caterpillars per square yard indicates the need for treatment with an insecticide.
◻ Yellow patches 2 to 6 inches in diameter – This may be a fungal disease called Dollar Spot. It affects leaf tissue but leaves roots unharmed. Practice good fertilization techniques. Mow only when the grass is dry, and be sure to bag and dispose of your clippings as your lawn recovers.
◻ Lawn is yellow all over and slow growing – Check your soil pH and fertilization requirements. You may need to adjust pH and add nitrogen.