Lawn Troubleshooting Tips
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Always check watering first with any lawn problem, this is a very common culprit to lawns not looking right in the heat of the summer. A good check for lawn moisture is to stick a regular length screwdriver into the soil. If you can very easily insert it up to the handle your lawn is probably getting sufficient water. You can also overturn a piece of sod with a shovel and check the soil underneath for moisture and its depth, as grassroots can be several inches deep. Every watering should penetrate the turf and travel into the soil 6-8 inches. You can measure water and sprinkler output by following the tips in the Lawn Watering section of our website. If the spot has any straight edges it is likely a watering problem.
Very seldom are sprinkler systems set up so they water adequately and evenly in all locations throughout your landscape. If you have a dry spot use the measuring tips in the Lawn Watering section of our website to measure the output in that area. You can try installing a higher gallon per minute head or nozzle in that area, adjusting the spray pattern, or upping the minutes on your control box for that station. You can also just spot water the old fashioned way with a hose and sprinkler to avoid running all your sprinklers to fix one small spot. If your lawn is starting to yellow everywhere, it could be a sign of either not enough water, too much water, or possibly a lack of nutrients, it may be time to fertilize.
Does Your Lawn Have Excessive Mushrooms or White and Rust Colored Speckles on Blades of Grass?
The grass is likely getting too much water or possibly too much shade. Watering your grass too much is as unhealthy for it as not watering it enough. If you have these problems the best remedy is to quit watering as much or thin out the overhead trees so more sunlight can reach the grass.
Fungicides can also possibly be used, but are not as effective. Watering in the early morning hours will help prevent some of these mildew and fungus problems.
If you would like advice on setting up your sprinklers correctly, please let us know.
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What Lawn Damaging Insects Are in the Area?
There are four different lawn insects which regularly give homeowners persistent problems in Northern Utah and Southern Idaho.
WHITE GRUBS AND BILLBUGS
If the damage is spotty and irregular it is likely an insect problem. White grub and billbug larva damage look similar because they both feed in the same general area of the turf. If you can grab the grass and roll it up like carpet, roots and all, you probably have grubs or billbugs. You can also usually see the presence of small white grubs or billbug larva in the first few inches of the soil underneath the grass because they feed on the grassroots.
White grubs and billbug larva both have brown heads with dirty white bodies. White grubs are larger (3/8 to 2 inches) and have legs attached near the head, where billbug larva look like puffed rice with no legs attached (1/2 or less in length). You may also see an adult billbug beetle crawling across your sidewalk or driveway. It is a small black beetle with a weevil like a snout. When you disturb them they will play dead and will quit moving. If lawns are not treated for these pests, they can cause severe damage.
Sod Webworms can also be a major problem in lawns and cause significant damage to them. A sign of Sod Webworm is the presence of the adult moths flying zigzag patterns around your lawn, especially in the evening or when mowing. The moth is grayish-white to brown and one inch or less in length with a snout. Their wings are held cylindrically and tube-like over their backs when not in flight. The moths do not damage your lawn but continue to lay up to 60 eggs per day and increase the worm population which feeds on your grass. The worms are green with a brown head, usually about 3/4 inch in length, and are usually found on the edge of a damaged area right under the thatched canopy. With Sod Webworm damage you cannot roll grass up, but grass breaks off easily at the crown (or area where the blade emerges from the soil), as that’s where they feed.
CRANBERRY GIRDLER OR SUBTERRANEAN SOD WEBWORM
A fairly new pest is making its presence known in Northern Utah lawns. It is the subterranean Sod Webworm or Cranberry Girdler. This Sod Webworm is in the soil beneath the grass and looks like a grub in caterpillar form (usually about ¾ inch). It has a brown head and a dirty white body and will be found within the first inch of soil usually. These webworms can do more significant and lasting damage to your turf.
Please call our office for a free evaluation of any of these pests at which time it can be determined to treat them or not. Most lawns have them; the question is whether or not they have a high enough population to do damage to your lawn.
Lawn Troubleshooting Tips in Salt Lake County and Northern Utah
Serving Northern Utah and Southern Idaho since 1999