Hold the 'cides
When disease or insect damage appears on lawn, turf managers on
golf courses, in parks and on sod farms don't reach for fungicides
and insecticides. Those products are expensive and often deliver
uncertain results. Instead, a good greenskeeper aims first at
eliminating the underlying "strikes" against the grass plants, to
make the lawn stronger.
Fungi and insects can cause trouble in a lawn but unless the
lawn's weak for other reasons very few of them can become major
problems. Blade by blade, grass that's strong can resist infection,
slow the spread of a pest, and grow leaf surface faster than a pest
can destroy it.
So if you see lawn problem, strengthen the grass plants. Start
in spring with aeration, steady watering and fertilizer to shore up
their overall vigor. That way, even if a plant loses some foliage
each year to the likes of mildew or leaf spot when wet, cloudy,
cool conditions favor fungus growth, it will be able to fill back
in during drier, warmer, sunnier, periods. (Probably you've seen
tall phlox plants do this after a mildew infection, and
scab-infected crabapples, too. The same plants that were
white-coated or leafless in late fall come back fresh and lovely in
In addition, any time you see disease, overseed with premium grass
seed to introduce fungus- resistant grass varieties. They will
fill in where the current crop hasn't coped.
Shaded grass is weaker than lawn in sunny spots. So if the
problem area is in the shade, choose shade-tolerant seed.
Aeration strengthens a lawn
It's a great move for grass growing on compacted soil.
Afterward, prevent compaction's return. This might mean
establishing paths if foot traffic is the problem. Cover a path
with mulch to cushion each footfall or stepping stones to spread a
body's weight like a snowshoe over the soil. As an alternative,
install and plant a paving grid.
Finally, considering switching from conventional high nitrogen
granular fertilizers to slow release organic products. Some
diseases, such as powdery mildew of grass, are
encouraged by heavy nitrogen. Slow release organic products don't
invite fungi and do improve soil.
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