Brown Patches in Lawns
Broadly, lawn brown patches can be split into three categories - depending upon the size of the patch. Recognising the size and shape of the patch - simple you might think - can go a long way in identifying the cause of the brown patch. I have had mails in the past where the write has claimed to have brown patches on the lawn, when in fact the entire lawn was brown - killed off by the wrong use of a certain weedkiller!
The time of year the patches appear can also be a clue in identification, mainly by means of eliminating certain causes. For instance, small brown patches in the late autumn or winter lawn would rule out root damage by leatherjackets. These tend to feed during the summer months!
Together with this, knowing the age of the lawn can also be a help in determining the cause. Lawns less than a year old, sometimes have medium to large brown patches as a result of mower damage on an uneven lawn.
Dollar Spot Disease in Lawns
Small regular spots - rather then patches -
Possibly caused by Dollar Spot Disease, of which there are several fungi causes. Named after its size - a dollar. But, if not noticed soon enough, can spread and form patches rather than just spots. Normally on fine well mown sports turf. Particularly noticeable in early spring or late summer. Rarely in hot dry weather. The affected grass is straw-coloured. Early morning dew will show as a fine web across the spot.
Medium Round patches - about 6-12in (150-300mm)
Large Circular Brown Patches
Large Uneven Patches
Irregular Patches over the lawn -
Scalping with Lawn Mower
Dogs Fouling Lawns | General problems
Lady Dogs - bitches are a common cause of brown patches on lawns - especially in hot dry weather. The light brown patches are roughly
circular and about 20 - 30 cms across. There is no remedy for this, other than to keep your bitch off the lawn.
Scalping with the Mower Brown patches - Bare areas
If the brown patches are more like bare soil, then you are probably scalping it with a poorly adjusted lawn mower ( you are simply scalping the humps off an uneven lawn.) Raise the height of the mower blades in the short term - we all cut grass too short anyway - and top dress the hollows with fine soil. Top Dressing lawns - or maybe you have an uneven lawn full of bumps.
If they are small brown patches of a few cms across, it could be the larvae of the Daddy Longlegs Crane Fly. The grubs - known as Leather jackets eat away at the grass roots until they are ready to surface in the late summer as Crane Flies. It is difficult to realize that the chunky grubs, turn into the slender bodies of the adult flies. I wonder what the secret is!
The chemicals remedy we recommend is Nemasys leatherjacket killer, it comes in a power format, add to water, mix and shake to dilute, apply to your lawn with a sprayer.
There is an Organic Method to removing leather jackets from your lawn, simply, water the lawn in the evening, cover the area with a plastic sheet, remove it the following day, and sweep off the offending grubs, which will now be on the surface.
Here's an Email response we got by trying this !!!!
This maybe tedious but an effective method.
Read More on Leather Jacket Grubs
One added thought.. I assume that you have not applied a lawn feed/weedkiller too generously or without due care! If you have overlapped with the spreader, or applied unevenly by hand, then dark green stripes or patches may appear. They may also be scorched brown. Water the area generously, and all should be well within a few weeks.
Another common fault with applications of lawn feed, is applying them when the lawn is scorched dry, or even in mid summer in a dry period. Far better to wait until after a shower of natural water - rain. It nearly always waters the lawn better than we can!
If using a combined lawn feed/weedkiller, then other than the problem of possible scorch - see above - don't forget that the weedkiller element will (should) kill off any patches of weeds that were in the lawn prior to application. This will result in brown patches. Obvious to most, but come and read my help email box!
There are weedkillers that kill everything, there are weed killers that are a bit selective, and there are weed killer that kill grass! It is important to choose the right one!
Weed killing chemicals that are used in 'Lawn Weed and Feed' mixtures, or sold in liquid form as 'Lawn Weedkillers' together with some moss killers, are all formulated to specifically kill broad leaved plants. They are clever enough to know that they should not kill lawn grasses. Sometimes they are referred to as 'selective' weed killers. These types of weed killers are normally alright to use on lawns - if used properly, and of course after application, they will leave brown patches where they have killed the weeds in the lawn.
There are other types of weed killers, that do not give a hoot as to what they kill. These are NOT Lawn Weed Killers. Spray it and kill it is the motto! Typically this type of weedkiller contains Paraquat and Glyphosate. There are several others. Basically they will kill all plant growth they come into contact with.
We get several mails each year about brown patches on the lawn, which when we investigate, have been caused by the use of a general weedkiller, with the lawn owner thinking that they only killed weeds and not grass as well.
The First Cut
The spring season is an important time for getting your lawn into top shape for the following months. What you do now in the spring by way of lawn care, will determine how well your lawn will cope with the wear and tear of day to day use, and also its ability to withstand drought or even water-logging during the summer months.
Lawn Care Main
Lawns take up a lot of time compared with most aspects of the garden. In spite of the time and care lavished upon lawns, many fail to live up to expectations. Maybe the expectations are too great to start with. Problem being, that next door and surrounding areas seem to have better lawns!
Throwing money at an established lawn or patch of straw is not always the best way forward - neither the most successful in terms of attaining the quality lawn that you want. It is always a good ide to take a step backward, to see what the problem really is with the lawn. More often than not it will be something to do with your lawn care regime.
Not all lawns need aeration; but most do! Soil Compaction drives air out of the soil. A garden lawn is probably the most hostile environment provided by gardeners in furtherance of obtaining a beautiful garden. This is one reason for aerating a lawn. No other plant / grass are subjected to such willful abuse than the grass on the garden lawn, it needs care!
Top Dressing Lawns
Top Dressing of Lawns is beneficial. It encourages new basal growth of the grass plants - giving a thicker sward of grass. Top Dressing is also a good way to 'level out' the bumps and hollows in an uneven lawn.
Top dressing is normally carried out in mid spring. It can be done at any time in the growing season (March-October), but a dressing in the spring soon 'disappears' under the resultant lush lawn growth. Earlier in the growing season - but not in the autumn - a suitable fertiliser or feed can be added to the top dressing to give that little bit extra.
There are many and varied problems associated with keeping a good - or even reasonable - lawn. Quite often the problems are caused by something quite simple. That is, if you know what to look for! Describing a lawn problem seems to be beyond many of the people who write emails to me for help. A brown spot is a brown spot is it not? Well, err no, not always.
Bumps in the Lawn
Ok! Let's get one thing right, straight away. You do not get a level lawn by using a roller. Using a roller, simply gives you hard bumps and hard hollows - and all the bits in between.
In fact, unless you are going to carry out all of the other operations necessary for a first class lawn, you can get rid of the roller altogether - although I might concede that it is useful for a light run over before the first cut after the winter.
Brown Patches in Lawns
There are several causes of brown patches on lawns and other bare areas on the lawn, some are outlined below... Broadly, lawn brown patches can be split into three categories - depending upon the size of the patch. Recognising the size and shape of the patch - simple you might think - can go a long way in identifying the cause of the brown patch. I have had mails in the past where the write has claimed to have brown patches on the lawn, when in fact the entire lawn was brown - killed off by the wrong use of a certain weedkiller!
Lawn Moss Killer
If you really want to eradicate moss from your lawn, then you have to find out the actual problem that is causing it, rather than just treating it. The reasons are various, but not too difficult to isolate.
They can be one or several of the causes outlined below.
The latter is also available as a ready to use 'Moss Gun' for small patches. Neither do anything by way of treating the basic problem of moss in lawns. They simply are simply Lawn Moss Treatments - killing the moss which is there. It will return. You can alsouse lawn sand
Moles in your Lawn
Moles are one of the most frustrating of all garden and lawn pests! They are rarely seen, but can cause absolute mayhem. The damage they do to plants is minimal, but if you are unfortunate enough to have moles in your garden, they will cause you more angst than an infestation of aphids! The main problem being, that they are so difficult to get rid of, and you normally see the damage they do, before you realize that you have a mole or so!
Cute little things they might be, but if your lawn is your pride an joy, or if it is just a nice lawn to sit and relax, the molehill trademark will soon turn you against them! One mole can wreak havoc in the garden, but a few and you have a potential disaster.
Fairy Rings in Lawns and Turf
Fairy rings in lawns normally start to show up in late spring or mid-summer. They then carry on growing right through until the autumn and usually into subsequent years. They are easily recognised by either of two or both trademarks. Once they have started, they will be visible throughout the year.
They are most commonly seen as dark green circles of lush grass in the lawn usually after they are a half a metre or so across, though they are visible at first as a tuft of dark green grass.
The Fairy rings may also be first noticed as a group of toadstools manifest in mid-summer. (Sometimes without the dark green grass!) Not all toadstools in the lawn are as a result of Fairy Rings.
Dogs Fouling Lawns | General problems
The main problem with dogs on lawns is that of the brown patches caused by bitches urinating. Male dogs are not such a problem in this respect, for they do it differently..
The brown patches tend to be a circular patch with bright green grass growing around the perimeter as the bitches urine eventually breaks down to Nitrogen, which then feeds the area outside the actual damage. The brown patch is basically scorching - similar to that caused by applying too much fertilizer - especially in dry conditions.
Treatment by soaking the area with water - immediately after the bitch has done the deed! Soaking the brown patches after they have formed will be absolutely essential if you are going to over-seed the patches.
Lawn and Garden Edging
Garden lawns have to stop at some point, often causing a minor problem as to how to end or edge your garden with your lawn. Much will depend upon the style of your garden, but you will also have to take into account basic things like, the type of lawn mower you want to use, and even the basics of, how much time do you want to spend giving your lawn a neat finish!
It is not normally a good idea to simply end your lawn at the boundary of your garden edge; against a wall or fence. This will inevitably lead to either additional maintenance work - or an untidy finish, where the mower blade cannot quite get to the edges of the turf at the garden border edge.
Feeding a lawn is a relatively simple operation, but so many get it wrong, or do it when it it not necessary! Here's how and when to do it; and what to use.
Each of the aspects are important. Do it at the wrong time and you could end up with a weakened lawn. Use the wrong feed and scorching or unhealthy grass can result.
The process that causes most problems, is simply that of putting your fertiliser on the grass! Uneven application leads to a patch lawn at best, and a ruined lawn at worst!
The big sign outside the garden store commanded WINTERIZE YOUR LAWN.
I've fed the lawn: I've watered the lawn: I've mowed the lawn: raked it and watched a lot of it die anyway. Now I'm supposed to winterize my lawn? I hope it's not too late.
Grass lawns have to be the stupidest thing we've come up with outside of the IRS! We constantly battle dandelions, Queen Anne's lace, thistle, violets, chicory and clover that thrive naturally, so we can grow grass that must be nursed through an annual four-step chemical dependency.