Brown spots are incredibly frustrating for lawn owners. They are unsightly and the cause of the spots is often not clear. They can also be an indicator of a major underlying problem with the health of your lawn. However, they don’t always mean that your lawn’s health is at risk, so it’s necessary to identify the cause of the spots. The three primary causes are improper lawn care, disease, and growing conditions.
Brown Spots Caused by Improper Care
Many lawn owners are harming their lawns without realizing it, but fortunately the damage caused in these situations is usually easily fixed.
Mowing is already traumatic for turf grass, and improper mowing techniques only make it worse. Rather than cleanly cutting through turf grass, a dull mower blade tears the grass, causing damage and even death. Homeowners often scalp their lawn while mowing as well. Scalping occurs when the lawnmower blade is set too low or there are lumps in the lawn, causing grass to be cut too short and damage to occur.
Prevent damage from mowing by keep a sharp blade at a healthy height (remove no more than a third of the length of the grass at a time) and smoothing out lumps by digging up sod, removing excess soil, then replacing the sod.
Brown spots can also, ironically, be the result of the products you use to take care of your lawn. Indiscriminately applied herbicides can kill grass and other plants in addition to weeds, while pesticides can damage the ecosystem in the soil that is so vital to lawn health by killing important species like earthworms. Over fertilization or improperly or unevenly applied fertilizer can burn turf grass.
These products, in addition to many other products commonly used outside such as gasoline, bleach and other cleaners, and even insect repellent can cause brown spots if spilled in the lawn. Avoid damage from these products by only pouring chemicals over the driveway rather than the lawn, stopping usage of products suspected to be damaging, and using all lawn care products in moderation. Use non-chemical pest and weed solutions whenever possible, and if you must use an herbicide, use a shield to protect non-target plants. Never spray any product in windy conditions for the safety of both you and your grass.
Brown Spots Caused by Disease
One of the most common causes of brown spots in grass is disease, like brown patch lawn disease. Brown patch lawn disease is one of the most common types of turf disease, as well as one of the most damaging because it is fast-acting, able to affect large sections of grass in just a few hours, and targets all varieties of turf grasses. The fungus that causes this disease is active when the temperature is above about 70 degrees, especially when humidity is high, so in Southern California brown patch lawn disease can be a problem year round.
Brown patch lawn disease is not the only disease that affects lawns, but most turf grass diseases can be prevented with the same basic steps. Avoid fertilizers that use fast release nitrogen, as this can increase disease activity. Aerate your lawn while the weather is cool. Cut back on mowing during hot and humid whether to minimize the stress on your turf grass and limit the movement of disease. Maximize light and air penetration by removing or pruning trees and shrubs.
Thatch is essential to the health of your lawn, but more than a half inch prevents light and air from reaching the soil, absorbs water, and encourages the growth of disease. If all else fails, a fungicide may be necessary to control the disease.
Brown Spots Caused by Growing Conditions
Chronic brown spots are likely a result of poor growing conditions. Poor soil can be a problem throughout your lawn or only in patches, and is usually due to poor nutrient content or compacted soil.
Aeration can loosen the soil and allow organic matter to penetrate it, improving the nutrient content. Top dressing can provide further nutrients. You can also look at the plugs while aerating to observe how your soil varies across your lawn, vital information for further soil modification. Aeration can also improve water absorption, lessening the effect of erosion, but more significant erosion may require terraces or planted ground cover.
Improved water absorption is vital during drought conditions, but lawn owners should still keep an eye on dry spots to ensure that the lawn is being watered evenly.
Solve Brown Spots with the Help of a Professional
Don’t worry if you can’t seem to resolve your brown spots or even identify the source. A professional lawn care service provider like Lawnscape has the expertise and experience to help you not only resolve your current issues, but also prevent future brown spots and generally improve the health of your lawn. Contact Lawnscape today to schedule your appointment.