A lush, green lawn is an asset to a house, enhancing its curb appeal and giving your family a beautiful outdoor space in which to host cookouts, play with the kids and make lasting memories. But making your lawn beautiful, and keeping it that way, is neither simple nor easy. Lawn care is often strenuous and frustrating, especially when common problems like insects, weeds or poor growth intervene. Here’s how to deal with five of the most common lawn problems, so you and your family can go back to enjoying your lawn.

1) Insects

There’s more than one kind of insect that can cause problems in your lawn, but three of the most common are chinch bugs, white grubs and sod webworm. Each can cause patches of your lawn to die, but treatment can vary depending on the specific type of insect. If you think you might have an insect problem, you’ll first need to assess it.

Chinch bugs kill your lawn by sucking juices from individual blades of grass. Apply insecticide and consider planting a resistant St. Augustine grass strain, like floratam.

If you have white grubs, the damage will be at its worst in the fall. You can pull up a clump of the dead turf, and you should be able to see the grubs clinging to its roots. Apply imidacloprid in the late spring or early summer or release beneficial nematodes.
If you see moths flitting about the affected area at night, you might have sod webworm.

Confirm the presence of sod webworms by soaking a patch of the affected turf with soapy water and waiting about 10 minutes for the worms to surface. Treat with insecticide or bacillus thuringiensis (Bt).

2) Poor Grass Growth in Shady Areas

If you’re having trouble growing grass in shady areas, such as under trees, you have a few options. You could cut down or trim the trees, so grass in that area gets more sunlight. You could plant a more shade-tolerant variety of grass in that part of your lawn. Or, you could ditch the grass altogether and plant a bed of shade-tolerant perennials or other ground-covering plants, like sweet woodruff or bishop’s hat. Finally, you could plant nothing and cover the area with mulch.

3) Weeds

Eliminating weeds is a huge part of summer lawn care, and it’s a never-ending battle because of the massive weed seed bank that builds up in your lawn over time. While you may not care much about weeds in your lawn, some, like crab grass, die off at the first frost, contributing to soil erosion. Others, such as prickly lettuce, can be painful if stepped on. Unless you have the time to dig out weeds from your lawn one-by-one, the best plan is to apply broadleaf herbicides to weeds like dandelions and plantain and non-specific weed killers to perennial grassy weeds. Apply a crab grass preventative to your entire lawn, and pull up crab grass that does emerge. Reseed the bare spots with grass seed.

4) Bare Patches

If you have bare spots in your lawn, you need to act quickly to keep weeds from taking them over. Remove the bare spots, digging down about two inches deep, and about six inches out into the healthy parts of your lawn. Then level the soil, add compost and starter fertilizer, reseed and top with straw to keep the ground moist. You can also plant sod instead – just cut the sections to fit, press it into place and water frequently until it takes root.

5) Fungal Diseases

Fungal diseases can cause large dead spots in your lawn and can be difficult to diagnose.

You may need the help of your local university’s agricultural extension to figure out exactly what fungus is causing your lawn problems and how to treat it. Usually, it’s a matter of changing your watering and fertilization schedule, including watering and fertilizing less frequently or doing so at different times of the year.

Lawn problems can be a real drag. It’s no fun to watch the lawn you’ve slaved over start to slowly die. But you don’t have to stand by helplessly while your lawn breathes its last. Act quickly to address lawn problems, so you can keep enjoying your lush, green grass.