Excessive foot traffic. Too much shade. Dog urine. All these (and more) can damage a lawn, making it look less than stellar.
Here’s a brief look at some of the most common types of lawn damage as well as solutions for these problems.
Dry patches are fairly common on properties in Western Australia and can be attributed largely due to the sandy soil in the region.
When the sandy soil dries out, it can be difficult to get the soil wet. During summer, the organic matter in the soil produces wax which coats the uppermost layer and prevents water from getting down to the roots. Now when the lawn is irrigated, the water may run off to one side. Later on, the water follows a pathway, thus depriving some areas in the lawn with much-needed moisture and resulting in dry patches.
Applying a wetting agent to the soil will not solve water repellence as the wetting agent will simply run off to one side of the lawn. The best remedy to this problem is to aerate the soil. This will allow both the wetting agent and the water to penetrate the soil.
It is also worthwhile to check your irrigation system for faults. You may want to modify the system’s settings to take into account wind movement as well.
African black beetle infestation
Some people mistake dry patches on a lawn for an African black beetle infestation. When a lawn is infested with this insect, the turf can be rolled back, just like a carpet.
The actual cause of this type of lawn damage are the grubs which feed on the grassroots. The presence of African black beetles on the lawn can be confirmed by pouring a bucket of soapy water on problem areas on the lawn. The soapy water will flush out both the beetles and their larvae.
The use of chemical products to eliminate these insects is only recommended when there is severe infestation. Sometimes, a lawn may have a significant number of African black beetles but will not exhibit any sign of damage.
Instead of chemicals, you can use a piece of carpet moistened with water to attract the beetle. You can then put the moistened carpet in a bag and throw it away. Alternatively, you can turn on your garden lights at night. The beetles will converge on these lights and you can simply collect these the following morning.
Dollar spots usually affect grasses which require a high amount of water. These spots are actually a type of fungal disease which is caused by the combination of humidity and lack of nitrogen. Although dollar spots do not usually grow large, some spots can merge to form larger patches. Apart from this, the fungus that causes this problem can cause further damage to the turf.
Contrary to the belief of some gardeners, fungicides are best used only as a preventive measure. In fact, the use of fungicide can result in the fungus building a resistance to the chemical first used. Prevention measures include thatch control, using the right type and amount of fertilizers, and irrigation in the morning in order to allow excess moisture to evaporate.
Bare patches have different causes. For example, if the patches are found in the edges of decks or pavings, the problem may be attributed to excessive foot traffic. On the other hand, if the patches are located near the edges of garden beds, the problem may be caused by lack of sunlight. Dog urine, especially from female puppies, can lead to bare patches in different locations on the lawn.
For patches caused by excessive foot traffic, you can repair the lawn using lawn seed or a patching product. However, the long-term solution to this is to simply add a pathway. For bare patches caused by inadequate sunlight, you can consider reducing shade, choosing a turf species that is tolerant to shade, or simply converting the area for other uses. If the bare patches were caused by puppy pee, consider letting your canine do its business elsewhere. If this is not possible, make sure that you deeply water the areas it frequently urinates on.
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