How to treat lawn problems and pests

How to treat lawn problems and pests

Published: 18th October 2018

The biggest problem most of us have with our lawns are weeds. These are best treated between the period of April and October. If you have patches of Clover, Daisies or Dandelions you’ll need to take quick action in treating them. Vitax Lawn clear is a highly effective lawn weed killer, selectively killing only broad-leaved weeds and not your grass. Vitax can be applied using a watering can with a fine-rose or sprinkle-bar at the end. Make sure to use a red watering can when applying weed killers so that you can easily distinguish the watering can from the treated can.

Lawn pests come in all shapes and sizes from large mammals such as dogs, foxes and moles to smaller grubs that will eat the roots of your grass. 

Brown patches caused by dog urine can be treated by applying plenty of water to the affected area, and reseeding if necessary.

Moles on the other hand are more of a problem, increasingly bothersome later in winter and early spring. If you’ve had issues with them in the past it’s well worth being prepared. Firstly, you’ll need to remove the mole hill from the surface of your lawn, then using a lawn dressing, fill in any collapsed tunnels and reseed if necessary. Instead of using a mole clamp to catch the mole consider using a sonic mole repellent, protecting up to 1,000m² area of lawn. It sends out vibrations which disrupts the moles’ feeding habits, encouraging them to seek out new areas for tunnelling and feeding.

Equally troublesome, although occurring in autumn, are the grubs of the crane fly / daddy longlegs also known as leatherjackets and the grubs of the garden chafer. Both these grubs feed on the roots of the grass and can cause significant damage.

Leatherjackets are a brownish grub feeding at the roots are barely visible at an inch long and no obvious head or legs, we normally see only the symptoms (patches of yellow and dyeing grass) well after their attack. You might also notice birds pecking at your lawn, trying to feed on them. There aren’t any chemicals to control them on the market however biological controls (nematodes) work in more serious cases. These can be purchased on line or at our Shelford store. For smaller infestations water the area in the evening and cover with plastic sheeting over-night. This will bring the grubs to the service, providing a hearty breakfast for the birds once you remove the sheet.

Chafers, another grub that feed on the roots of grass are smaller than leatherjackets, white in colour with an obvious brown head and legs. Symptoms occur similarly to leatherjackets but more frequently you’ll notice Magpies, Rooks and Crows tearing up your lawn to get to the grubs. Badgers and foxes too are fond of eating them and they may well dig your lawn up to get to them. There is also no chemical treatment for chafer grubs although nematodes are available.

Fungal Disease
Unless you’ve been watering your lawn frequently, the fungal disease Red Thread won’t be a problem as it tends to occur in wet summers. As its name implies, you’ll see red threads on your grass followed by yellowing and dyeing grass. Applying a nitrogen-based fertiliser will help and in severe cases you might need to rake and reseed. As a preventative treatment purchase Bayer Gardening’s lawn disease-control. Resistance is a risk so it’s best to apply it only twice a year, and to use it alongside other methods. Always read and follow the instructions.

Finally, toadstools or fairy rings can pose a problem this time of the year. The symptoms normally appear as darker green patches or rings on the lawn. While removing the toadstools will make the lawn look better, it’s unlikely to stop them spreading. Digging the infected areas out might be effective but as their mycelium can penetrate a foot into the ground, this may be time consuming and expensive. The easiest solution would be to feed your lawn so that it all is a flourishing bright green.

Once winter arrives and the grass stops growing, it’s worth getting your mower serviced and the blades sharpened, so you’ll be ready to start cutting the grass in the new season.