Dead Spots in Lawn
Dead spots in lawns are not always caused by obvious culprits. As
winter comes to its end, we know that spring is on its way due to changes in
rainfall, temperatures and the welcome site of new growth in our landscaping.
In the Gulf Coast region (for example) our customers often want to treat their lawns for bugs as early as February or March. The only lawn pests that might need attention at this time are moles (or other burrowing animals), lawn fungus or insects such as ants that invade the home from outdoors.
The first question that needs to be answered might sound silly but it is very important and is often overlooked: are the dead spots in your lawn getting larger or are they the same size today as they were last week? The primary reason for this question is that you need to know if the problem that is causing the dead spots is active or dormant. The secondary reason is that if the spots are growing at a rapid pace you will need to take more aggressive action than when the spots are only spreading an inch or so every couple of days.
If you are not sure whether the spots are active, you can easily establish
the status of the problem with the use of a few small sticks and a little
Dormant Dead Spots in Lawns
When dead or damaged areas of your lawn are dormant (not getting larger or
expanding) there are a few simple reasons for the damage. During the
summer months and fall of the year, there are many things that attack turf grass
in lawns, golf courses and landscaping. These enemies of lawns include
insect pests, lawn fungus, stress due to drought or flood, improper irrigation,
poor soil conditions and others.
Active Spots in Lawn
When your "stick test" proves that your problem is active you obviously need to take action to keep the lawn healthy. In areas where molecrickets are a major pest, lawn fungus problems usually occur a couple of months before the molecrickets actually begin to feed on the grass. The most confusing problem is that adult molecrickets that are seen tunneling through the upper section of soil are not always causing the demise of your lawn. The insect we see (molecrickets) are blamed for the damage caused by another, hidden culprit - lawn fungus.
Many times the grass looks healthy as it begins to slowly come out of
dormancy. In the Southeast regions (for example) many people get spring
fever and cannot wait to put out their weed & feed fertilizers. Most
often, people who apply weed and feed (fertilizers that contain a high content
of Nitrogen and a small amount of Atrazine) in February and early March will see
there grass first green up then begin to die in patches. If there is a
lawn fungus lurking in your grass, it will show itself in as little as four days
or it may be noticeable about two weeks after the weed and feed application.
Lawn fungus thrives on nitrogen. When a high nitrogen fertilizer (such as weed and feed) is applied to an area where a fungi is present, it is as if someone threw fuel on a fire. If this has happened to your lawn, you need to immediately treat the area with a good fungicide. Cheap fungicides might stem the tide a little but by using them you run the risk of losing your lawn to a fast moving fungus.
When first introduced to reliable, professional fungicides most people are
surprised at the cost of product. Fungicides were invented and developed
to prevent fungus problems on plants. Most fungicides have a low rate and
a higher rate. The low rate is usually suggested for very slight problems
and prevention of fungus problems. The higher
rate (usually double that of the low rate) is suggested for active
fungus. In professional lingo these rates are called
preventative and curative.
Preventing Fungus Problems
When the lawns in your area are known to have brown patch or other lawn diseases, using a systemic fungicide (at lower, preventative rate) at the same time that you apply your first round of fertilizer can stop a lot of problems before they can cause damage to your grass. Another time to apply systemic fungicides to your lawn is in the fall of the year. This application can be made at the same time that you apply winter fertilizers, also called "winterizers" by lawn care professionals. A winterizer contains very little or no nitrogen. Its purpose is to strengthen the stems and root system of your lawn in preparation for cold winter months when the lawn is dormant. [It is important to remember that although a lawn might be dormant, it is still a living plant that needs certain nutrients and smaller amounts of water.]
Bayleton Systemic Granules are an excellent choice for lawn fungus problems and for prevention of problems. This fungicide is taken up by the root system and protects the grass from the inside out. Over the counter liquid fungicides only attack from the outside with very little residual protection.
Curing Fungus Problems
Once you have identified an active fungus problem you should not delay in
taking care of the problem. Fungi can spread quickly, devastating a
gorgeous lawn in a matter of days. The fungicide that is used with great success: Bayleton Systemic Granules.
When using just one type of fungicide, you will need to use twice as much product (curative rate) and will probably need to apply a second application about two weeks after the first. (Prevention costs 1/4 as much as curing a problem!)
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