The Q&A Archives: Recurring lawn damage

Question: For the last 8+ years large areas my northwest New Jersey lawn are attacked by brown areas followed by dead areas. The turf in the affected areas cannot be lifted nor do I see any grubs present. I do see a few (average 5) small tan/white moths fly up while mowing. Areas in direct sun are hit hardest. Scotts TB w/insect control and Ortho MAX help but damage recurs in 2-3 weeks after application.

Answer: If you are using insect control products you can probably rule out insects as the vectors of the damage. Browning areas can indicate a disease problem or could indicate areas with compacted soils. When soil is compacted moisture does not soak in but runs off, resulting in dead and dying turf. Or, those areas might have a build up of thatch which will also keep moisture from reaching the roots. You can try digging out the brown areas, mixing a little compost into the soil and then overseeding. Not only will you remove any potential disease pathogens, you'll also expose any insect problems when you dig. As a side note, dog urine can cause the symptoms you describe. The urine has concentrated salts which will burn the blades and the roots of the turf. The soil can be rendered sterile because of the build up of salts. Again, digging out the affected areas, incorporating a little compost and then overseeding should restore the health of the soil and your turf. Hope the above gives you a few things to try so you can get your turf back to an even green. Good luck with your lawn.

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