East Bay Nursery
The Bay Area's Place for Plants
2332 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702
510.845.6490
Open: Tues - Sat 8:30-5:00; Closed Sun & Mon
2332 San Pablo Ave, Berkeley, CA 94702
510.845.6490
Open: Tues - Sat 8:30-5:00; Closed Sun & Mon
 
 

Lawn Problems

These are the most common problems our customers ask for assistance with. If you can not ID the problem from here please bring a sample to us. Includes roots and blades that show the various stages of the problem if there is no evidence of the problem or an obvious clues.

We find the I.P.M. (Integrated Pest Management) site from UC Davis very useful as well.

Dog Urine

These circular, brown spots in the lawn typically appear after a spell of dry, hot weather. Damage from dog urine can also appear as light yellow to dark green spots in the grass. The light yellow and brown patches are the equivalent to fertilizer burn. As the salts are leached out, the grass will grow back, typically with a vengeance.

Controls:

To prevent this from happening, leach the urine from the lawn immediately after occurrence by soaking the area with water. Unfortunately, this type of damage often occurs in lawns of non-dog-owning people. Repellents have been designed to discourage a variety of animals from just this action, dogs included. To hasten recovery top-dress and reseed the damaged areas.

Fertilizer Burn

Fertilizer burn typically will appear within a week of an over application or spill of your fertilizer. Fertilizer is made up of a variety of salts which, when applied too heavily, dehydrates and kills the lawn. Recovery is quick when the brown patch becomes accented by a band of very vigorous, dark green grass that surrounds the damaged area.

Controls:

When the spill occurs, pick up any excess fertilizer; you can then leach the fertilizer from the ground by soaking the area with water and allowing it to drain. Repeat several times. To hasten recovery top-dress and reseed the damaged areas.

Grub Damage

This is one of the most common lawn problems we see. Grubs are the larvae of beetles. Many types of grubs feed on the roots or crowns of your lawn causing the grass to brown out and die. Grub damage can be confirmed when areas of sod can be lifted easily and roots are not present. Grub presence is also signified by skunk or raccoon diggings in the lawn. These are small holes that have been dug in pursuit of the grubs.

Controls:

Unfortunately, there are limited controls for grubs. Nematodes can be used to control the grub populations but must be applied before damage appears as the population of these grub killers must be established first. A product containing Imidacloprid is best applied at the first sign of any damage. Apply the product, then water. This will carry the insecticide down in to the area that the grubs are feeding. To hasten recovery top-dress and reseed the damaged areas.

Chinch Bugs

Chinch bug invasion usually begins along the edges of the lawn. As they suck juices from the grass they inject a poison which acts much like a weed killer. The grass wilts, turns yellow, then dries out and dies. Chinch bugs are sun and heat loving, seldom will you find them in a shady lawn. Both the immature nymphs and the adults cause damage. To test for chinch bug presence, remove both ends of a tin can, push it 2-3 inches into the ground. Keep the can filled with water for 10 minutes. Very small, black to brown insects with white wings will float to the surface if they are present.

Controls:

As soon as you identify the problem, water well. This will bring the insects to the surface; apply an insecticide at this time. Use a product containing Diazinon to control these pests. Reapply in 6-8 weeks to catch the new hatchlings. To hasten recovery top-dress and reseed the damaged areas.

Brown Patch

This is a fungus that flourishes during periods when the temperature is between 75 and 85 degrees and when the humidity levels are high. Brown patch is typically identified by a dark purplish ring that appears around the outer margin of the infected area. Typically, only the blades are affected and recovery is quick as the crowns soon push out new growth. You can reduce your chances of infection by reducing the quantity of fertilizer used during high risk times. This will reduce the amount of soft, tender growth which is most susceptible.

Controls:

Organically control can be found by using a product called Serenade. This is a bacteria that feeds on the mycelium of the fungi preventing it from spreading or “seeding”. Other controls include fungicides that contains chlorothalonil. Repeat as directed. The occurrence of many lawn fungi can be reduced by watering in the early morning instead of the evening. To hasten recovery top-dress and reseed the damaged areas once treated.

Dollar Spot

Dollar spot is most prevalent during warm and wet weather. The light brown to straw colored circular spots range in size from 1-6 inches in diameter. The infected blades have small, light brown spots with reddish brown borders, that extend across the entire leaf. Infections occur most in lawns under stress. Seldomly is the damage permanent. Recovery typically takes a few weeks.

Controls:

Organically control can be found by using a product called Serenade. This is a bacteria that feeds on the mycelium of the fungi preventing it from spreading or “seeding”. Other controls include fungicides that contains chlorothalonil. Repeat as directed. The occurrence of many lawn fungi can be reduced by watering in the early morning instead of the evening. To hasten recovery top-dress and reseed the damaged areas once treated.

Fusarium Blight

This fungus attacks during the summer when temperatures are over 75 degrees. The hottest areas in the lawn typically show signs first. The grass in affected areas turns light green first then straw brown. Often the fungus forms a ring leaving a patch of green in the center. If left uncontrolled, the damage can reoccur year after year. Remove excess thatch, don't over fertilize, and keep the lawn healthy to prevent infection.

Controls:

Complete control is difficult. To reduce the chance of reoccurrence, remove dead areas, reseed with resistant types of grass., and keep your lawn healthy. In California, there is not an available control for over the counter sales.

Sod Web Worm

This little pest causes irregular patches of dead grass by chewing the blades of grass off at ground level. These little caterpillars hatch from eggs in may through September and attack the hottest parts of the yard first. In damaged areas look for white, silken tubes at the soil level. You will find the caterpillars feeding on your grass at night or on overcast days. To anticipate potential problems, watch for small white or grayish moths flying over your lawn in a zig zag pattern.

Controls:

These pests are best controlled with an organic insecticide containing Spinosad. First, remove all dead material and water the lawn well; then, apply the insecticide in mid to late afternoon as this is when the insects are most active. Damaged lawns can recover quickly when damaged. To hasten recovery top-dress and reseed the damaged areas.