Every vision of the perfect home contains an accompanying perfect lawn. Something vast and lush, where you can play yard games, picnic, sunbathe and simply relax. Yet, when you buy a house and start caring for your own lawn, you’ll often find that keeping that lawn perfect isn’t as simple and straightforward as you’d hoped.
It doesn’t take lawns long to develop discolored or dead patches, which make your landscaping less attractive. Here are a few solutions for lawn patchiness, so you can get back to that idyllic vision of your home.
Is It Age?
A newly laid lawn is a beautiful thing to behold — but you better believe it won’t stay as green and lush as it first grows. Over time, your lawn will soak up all the nutrients that pre-existed in your soil, and if you fail to add any nutrients back in, your lawn’s health will start to fade. While sometimes age allows a lawn to decline uniformly, more often certain patches will devour nutrients at faster rates, resulting in a speedier rate of decline — and patches of dead grass.
The tendency for lawns to age poorly is the primary reason why you need to be diligent in adhering to a fertilization schedule. You should be adding nutrients into your lawn’s soil at least once per year, but twice per year, in fall and spring, is even more ideal. When you fertilize, you might also consider overseeding your lawn, which will help it grow thick and fill in the dead and dying patches with brand-new grass.
Is It Location?
Some areas of a yard are better than others when it comes to growing a lawn. Like other plants, grass requires a specific environment in terms of soil composition, drainage and shade — and if there is too much or not enough of any one component in any section of your lawn, ugly dead patches are sure to develop.
To identify whether location is your issue, you should keep a close eye on your lawn. It’s a good idea to draw a map of your lawn during different times of day to understand where the shade falls and how water sits on your grass. If you notice that dead patches fall under a particularly dense area of shade or poorly draining divot, you should know why your grass is failing to thrive.
Obviously, you can’t change the location of your house and yard — but you can alter the environment somewhat. You might thin out the branches of a shade tree to allow your lawn more light, and you might extend downspouts or take other steps to improve drainage around your property. If all else fails, you can reduce or alter the footprint of your lawn to avoid problematic spots.
Is It Compaction?
Your grass needs way more than sunshine and water to survive; it needs air to breathe and nutrients to eat, just like you. However, when the soil surrounding your lawn’s roots is too hard and compacted, your grass will struggle to absorb what it needs. If the soil remains compacted for an extended period of time, your lawn will essentially starve and suffocate, enduring a long, drawn-out death.
There are a number of ways that soil can become compacted. Most frequently, compaction is the result of traffic, like treading the same path over your lawn to your door or driving and parking vehicles on your lawn in the same spot. However, compaction can also occur in areas subject to heavy blizzards; the weight of snow is significant and can press firmly down on soil easily.
Aeration is the best and only solution for compaction problems. Using a coring or plug aerator (not a spike aerator) you can relieve the pressure of the soil by pulling out plugs of lawn. If you live in a region that is afflicted by snow, you should aerate every spring. Everyone else should aerate high-traffic zones about once per year.
Is It Pests or Disease?
Like any living organism, lawns are subject to attack by other organisms looking to leach easy nutrients. Insect pests like chinch bugs and sod webworms as well as diseases like gray leaf spot and pink snow mold will happily devour your lawn, transforming it from a lush landscape to a sickly eyesore.
There are hundreds of different kinds of pests and diseases that might afflict your lawn, and they vary largely by region and climate. Typically, you can identify pests by spotting an abundance of flying or crawling insects amidst the grass. Diseases tend to form in odd patterns, like rings, or else turn your grass atypical colors, like pink and white.
Generally, it’s a good idea to get an expert opinion in diagnosing your lawn problem and treating whatever pest of disease you suffer from. To prevent re-infection later, you need to work to ensure better health of your lawn. Again, it’s a good idea to work with professionals to understand what you have been doing wrong and guide your lawn care habits into the future.
Your lawn might not fit your perfect vision now, but that doesn’t mean it can’t ever look as vibrant green and lush as your dreams. With the proper care, any lawn will grow healthily, so you only need to identify your mistakes and start treating your lawn like it deserves.