Have you ever wondered why your lawn has developed a certain disease, or insect problem, and your neighbor's lawn doesn't seem to have the same problem? It may seem logical that if your yard has a lawn disease problem, or an insect invasion, then, the lawns next to you should have the same thing. The only answer for this question is that each lawn has its own environment. The growing and maintenance practices on each lawn vary. A good analogy would be that, although, everyone in a family may eat the same food and live in the same house, sometimes only one person may end up sick at some time during the year. Learn more about healthy lawns and what you can do to keep your lawn healthy and green.
Insect activity and incidence is dependent on many factors. The type of grass, along with the cultural practices of proper lawn fertilization, watering, and thatch control, often dictate the amount of damage that may occur. A weak lawn will show more damage than a strong, healthy lawn. On the other hand, a well-maintained lawn may attract more insects. Momma insect wants to lay eggs in the area that will supply the most and best food for the young. Does this mean that if you don't take care of your lawn it will not have insect problems? Of course not, but it does mean that the healthy, well-maintained lawn will recover faster from an insect invasion than a unhealthy, or poorly, maintained lawn.
The same is true of lawn and grass disease problems. It is possible to find just about every imaginable disease spore present in any lawn. Three factors need to interact in order for grass diseases to develop. The factors are the host plant, the pathogen, and the environment. It is often called the disease triangle. The pathogen (the disease-causing organism) will infect the host plant (your grass) if the environment that favors the lawn disease to grow is present. A fourth factor ties everything together. The environment has to exist for a long enough time for the pathogen to develop and infect the host plant. If this occurs, then the lawn disease can cause damage to the plant.
The environment includes the cultural practices that the lawn receives. The amount of water and the time of day when the lawn receives water are critical. Avoid watering in the late afternoon, or evening, as this promotes the conditions for many lawn diseases to develop: cool, dark, and moist. Light, frequent waterings will promote a shallow root system. It is better to water one or two times per week, but leave the sprinkler in one location for an hour. This will wet the soil to a depth of 4" to 6” and the roots will go deeper in search of more water.
Mowing at the proper height and supplying the proper amount of fertilizer on a regular basis is also important. It is difficult to provide a standard yard care recommendation for these two practices as it will vary based on the type of grass and the geographic location of the lawn. In regards to grass varieties, some are more, or less, susceptible to lawn disease or insect infestation. Your local Spring-Green yard care professional, or county extension office, can provide you with the proper recommendations for mowing and fertilizing grass varieties for your area.
The last cultural practice is thatch control. Thatch, an intermingled layer of leaves, roots, stems, and other organic material that may build up at the soil line, can increase the incidence of disease and insect activity. If the level exceeds a 1/2", then it can act as an incubation chamber for many diseases and insects. Core aeration, power raking, and slicing are all methods used to control thatch build-up. As with lawn fertilization and mowing, recommendations for thatch reduction are based on grass variety and geographic location, so contact a knowledgeable source for your area. Next time you wonder why the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, find out about the care given to that lawn. Better yet, get the proper information from your local Spring Green professional. If you get sick, you see a doctor. If your lawn gets sick, it will need the right diagnosis from someone who is knowledgeable about lawn diseases. It will save you time and money in the end, and provide you with a better environment for growing healthy grass.