A lush, green lawn adds beauty and immediate curb appeal to your Northern NJ home, but keeping it that way year-round can be difficult. Even with constant care and attention, your lush, green lawn can develop problems that quickly turn it into an eyesore. If your lawn is looking a little drab and unhealthy these days, it may be time to consider professional lawn service.
Although every lawn is susceptible to problems, professional lawn service provides lawn care experts with knowledge and experience to combat common lawn problems with proven treatments. Lawn problems can be caused by a variety of insects and diseases, as well as improper lawn care and maintenance. Take a look at some of the warning signs that signal a damaged lawn.
One of the most common lawn complaints from Bergen County homeowners is brown spots in the yard. Most people blame brown spots or dead patches on insects and disease, but in many cases it’s actually caused by improper lawn care.
To determine the exact cause of the problem, it’s necessary to examine the lawn for warning signs that point to specific problems. Improper irrigation is often responsible for brown spots and it also predisposes your lawn to the invasion of insects, disease and weeds. The most common causes of brown spots are:
Your lawn needs one inch of water per week, either from rainfall or irrigation. Make sure your sprinklers are evenly spaced and cover all areas in your lawn. Keep an eye on sunny spots that dry out faster, and make sure your soil gets proper drainage.
Heat and Drought
In Northern NJ, many homes have cool-season grasses which typically go dormant and turn brown in warm weather. When the grass goes dormant, it can leave brown patches and thinning grass in areas of your lawn. Check with a professional lawn service to make sure you have the right type of grass.
- Army Worms – In the fall, you may get bare or brown spots caused by army worms, insects that resemble caterpillars. They usually feed at night and can eat the grass right down to the soil. Army worms often appear in large numbers and can do a lot of damage to your lawn.
- Chinch Bugs – In August and early September, you may notice large, circular patches in the sunny areas of your lawn, especially near sidewalks and driveways that reflect heat. These brown spots, caused by chinch bugs, can eventually spread outward into the rest of the lawn.
- Grubs – Grubs are a common problem in mid to late summer and most quickly identified when your sod easily pulls back from the ground like a carpet. Brown patches typically increase during the summer and are extensive by fall.
Brown patch and other fungal diseases thrive in moist conditions, usually in mid-summer when days and nights are hot and humid, and in spring when winter snow is melting. Brown patches often have circular or irregular patterns. Common fungal diseases that cause brown patches are:
- Dollar Spot – Tan or straw-colored spots that look like silver dollars appear and thrive on dry, malnourished lawns. Cobweb-like spots show up early in the morning and turn brown later in the day. Infected spots usually increase in number, but never attach together.
- Fusarium Patch – This fungus appears during late winter and early spring, causing circular patches of dead grass from 1 to 3 inches across or larger. It’s also known as Pink Snow Mold, because grass is covered with a white to pink mold after winter snows melt.
The misuse of chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides can cause brown spots in your lawn.
If fertilizer is applied incorrectly or unevenly, it can burn your grass leaving brown scorched-like areas. Pesticides and herbicides can also burn your lawn, especially when sprayed directly on grass blades.
With so many types of lawn chemicals on the market, it’s difficult to know which one is right for your grass type. A qualified landscape company can provide professional lawn service with the best products for your lawn. They can also provide organic lawn care that uses completely natural products with no harmful chemicals.
Animal urine usually causes your lawn to turn yellow and brown in spots, sometimes with a bright green ring around the edges where the diluted nitrogen in the urine acts as a fertilizer. Dogs are the most common culprit of brown spots in your lawn, but large birds and other animals can also cause urine spots.
Diagnosing the cause of brown spots in your lawn is a complicated process if you don’t know what to look for, so hiring a professional lawn service is your best bet for successful treatment.
Yellowing grass is often caused by nutrient deficiencies typically from nitrogen and iron found in fertilizers. Without proper nutrients, grass becomes thin and unhealthy, soil becomes dry and compact and grass roots become short and weak.
If your lawn isn’t getting enough nitrogen – the key component of lawn fertilizer – it will begin to change from lush bright green, to light green and then to yellow. The color change is usually first noticed in the lower part of grass blades at the soil level, but yellowing will eventually spread to the entire lawn. You may also notice less grass growth – another sign of nitrogen deficiency.
Adding fertilizer with nitrogen will help to restore your lawn to a rich, green color, but it’s important to apply the right amount. Applying too much fertilizer at the wrong time can do more harm than good to your lawn. Grass cycling, leaving grass clippings on your lawn after mowing, is also a natural way to add nitrogen back to your lawn.
Yellowing grass can also be caused by lack of iron in your soil. Iron deficiency usually appears in patches where grass blades turn yellow, but the veins remain green. Areas that are adjacent to concrete structures such as sidewalks, pathways, driveways, patios and planters commonly turn yellow from iron deficiency. The high alkaline content in concrete tends to absorb the iron found in soil, reducing the amount of iron that gets absorbed by your lawn and other plants in those areas. Alkaline soils, like those found in most mid-western states, are especially susceptible to iron deficiencies, making it difficult to grown lush, green grass.
Adding fertilizer and soil supplements to your lawn will help to replenish iron in the soil, but using the correct product and amount is essential. Professional lawn service is recommended to prevent chemical lawn damage and ensure best year-round results for a green, healthy lawn.
Weeds are usually a sign of an unhealthy lawn that’s often malnourished or improperly maintained. Some weeds are aggressive and fast-growing, so they quickly overtake grass, plants and flowers depriving them of food and water. Aggressive weeds take every opportunity to find an unhealthy lawn and spread rapidly. Some weeds are noxious and cause problems for humans on contact. Although most common weeds don’t cause breathing problems or skin reactions, they are certainly an unsightly nuisance in any lawn and usually require treatment from a professional lawn service to get rid of them.
There are three basic types of lawn weeds: broadleaf weeds, grassy weeds and creeping weeds. Each type requires a different method of weed control.
Broadleaf weeds are rather easy to identify with broad leaves that have wide, flat leaves growing on a stem. They can have one leaf or multiple leaves. Common broadleaf weeds are: Chickweed – a prolific spring weed that thrives in cool, wet conditions; Dandelions – strong, aggressive weeds that spread easily; and White Clover – a perennial, hardy weed common to Northern NJ areas.
Grassy weeds are harder to identify. Many sprout from seeds that are spread by the wind. Crabgrass is a grassy weed that’s common in all lawns. Once it takes root, it’s difficult to remove without harming the lawn. The best method of control is prevention.
In addition to crabgrass, other grassy weeds like fall panicum, yellow foxtail, goose grass and barnyard grass usually indicate poor growth conditions and bad soil in your lawn. By applying a pre-emergent control each spring through a qualified professional lawn service, you can prevent seeds from germinating.
Creeping weeds grow like vines close to the ground and will form a mat-like ground cover if allowed to flourish. The vines have nodes where leaves grow and they will form roots wherever they come in contact with the soil. This makes it difficult to get rid of creeping weeds because every rooted node left behind can turn into a new plant. Creeping Charlie – one of the most common creeping weeds – is rivaled in persistence only by the dandelion and both are difficult to get rid of and control.
Mouse-Ear chickweed indicates moist, compacted soil where creeping stems form a dense growth pattern that often creates patches in lawns. Creeping thistle – a noxious weed – can actually be harmful to humans and pets.
Professional lawn service through a qualified landscape company can provide important weed control and regular lawn fertilization to keep your lawn looking its best year-round with applications typically in Mid-Spring, Late Spring, Summer, Early Fall and Late Fall.
A pest control program can protect your lawn from common insects that feed on healthy grass, quickly robbing your lawn of essential nutrients, healthy soil and water.
- Chinch Bug Control – Applied as needed late spring through early fall, it will get rid of chinch bugs that feed all grasses. Chinch bugs inject a chemical into grass blades causing them to turn brown and die. Heavy infestations can quickly kill a complete lawn in several days.
- Grub Control – Applied once summer and early fall, it will control grubs – the larvae of various beetles – that love to feast on the roots of grass and plants. They’re often hard to spot unless you peel back a small piece of turf or scrape back the top layer of soil.
If you’re noticing any warning signs of a damaged lawn, talk to a qualified landscape company who can provide professional lawn service for your home. The best prevention for lawn problems is good lawn care and regular maintenance.
Although lawn problems can occur at any time throughout the year, it’s best to begin professional lawn service early in the year, so you’re prepared for spring and summer growth seasons, a prime time when many lawn problems occur. Insects, diseases and weeds are just waiting for spring when plants and flowers are blooming, grass is growing, soil is fertile and new growth is abundant.