Your lawn represents a sizable
investment of time and money. Taking good care of it just makes sense; no one wants to
watch grass die and then have to pay good money to replace it.
Insect and disease pests can present problems in any turfgrass;
controlling their population begins with growing healthy sod. Choose locally grown,
disease-resistant varieties and grow them right: Keep the mower deck and blades clean
between mowings and mow regularly so you never remove more than half the leaf surface in
one cutting. Water less frequently but more at one time to soak the root zone, and
fertilize regularly but not excessively. Rake or bag the lawn clippings to encourage good
air circulation. When dethatching, do so in the early fall for best results.
Put the principles of integrated pest management (IPM) into your
lawn maintenance plan. Experts in the field tell us to walk the lawn at least weekly to
notice any changes in its appearance. Sometimes grass may look pale and an insect is
suspected. If you can walk across that lawn and your footprints remain visible, it needs
water badly. Drought conditions do contribute to insect infestations, and treating a dry
lawn with insecticides can cause additional damage. When selecting an insecticide, read
its label carefully to be certain it will control the insect you've identified.
A host of insects live in every lawn, but only two types can do
serious damage. One group, including white grubs, feed on grass roots; the others, such as
sod webworms, eat the leaves. A third group of insects burrows around in the soil; if
enough are present, the lawn dries out badly.
Lawn diseases result from fungus or virus infections delivered to
the grass in water, air, by mowers, insects, or in the grass itself. Fungi damage many
lawns annually, most often those that are overfertilized and kept too moist. Soil
compaction plays a role, and it may become necessary to use fungicides to control the
disease. Remember, these are often predictable diseases and fungicides work best to
prevent infection, so timing is important.