Diagnosing Grass Problems

Consider Plant’s Mature Size When Choosing Low-Maintenance Plants

by Mike Dooley

Every year I get many calls to diagnose grass problems. I have a series of questions that I ask. The conversation goes something like this.

Q: How often do you water?
A: Water new grass daily for about two months. After that, follow the city guidelines.

Q: How long is the sprinkler running?
A: If you have pop-up spray heads, water for 20 minutes. If you have heads that produce little rotating streams, water 45 minutes. If you have big rotary impact heads that throw 30' or more, water at least 45 minutes.

Q: Is the grass in the shade looking better than the grass in the sun?
A: If that's the case, a lack of water is the problem. Do this simple test. Set out several small cups that are all the same size. Put some in the green areas and some in the areas in question. Water for 30 minutes and check the cups. The amount of water in the cups will not be exactly the same, but if there's a big difference, call your irrigator to have the sprinkler heads adjusted.

Q: Do you have dead places where the lawn is cut off at the soil level and the grass is just sitting on the soil but not attached?
A: You have grub worms.

Q: Do you have yellow, brown, or red patches, yellow tinting, whitish powder, overall thinning, dead circles with a green interior, dead solid circles, or a slimy appearance?
A: You probably have a fungus. Use a general purpose fungicide

Q: Do you have randomly spaced circular spots about 4" in diameter?
A: Keep your dog off the grass, or put his water bowl on top of the refrigerator.

Happy Gardening!

Copyright 2011 Mike Dooley. All rights reserved.