Ask a Question forum: Part of lawn is dying

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Toronto, Canada
Toronto50
Aug 13, 2017 10:40 AM CST
We have been having this lawn issue since we moved in our house about 5 years ago. For your info, we live in Toronto, Canada.

There is a portion of the lawn that keeps dying. We have reseeded it a couple times this year.

It starts growing well and then it dies for no apparent reason. First picture was taken in June, second one in August.

The soil has been tested using a kit from Home Depot and it looked ok, the dry area showed same chemical concentration as the healthy area.

We are wondering if the proximity of the pool (salty water) could be a reason? However, the edge along the pool and the lawn contains green grass.

We are very puzzled at this point and any suggestion will help.

Thank you.

Thumb of 2017-08-13/Toronto50/d2f6c8


Thumb of 2017-08-13/Toronto50/250006

Name: Suzanne/Sue
Sebastopol, CA (Zone 9a)
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Calif_Sue
Aug 13, 2017 11:02 AM CST

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Chlorine pool water splashing?
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Toronto, Canada
Toronto50
Aug 13, 2017 11:09 AM CST
Calif_Sue said:Chlorine pool water splashing?


No, we are barely using the pool (only adults in the household) and we are not splashing.
Thank you for your answer though.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Aug 13, 2017 11:26 AM CST
Welcome!

A couple of things to try - have you noticed if the turf there pulls up easily as if the roots are not anchoring it any more? Also, take a watering can, put in roughly a tablespoon of hand dishwashing liquid (preferably lemon "flavour", like Sunlight if you have it but any will do) to a gallon of water. Pour that over an area at the edge of the brown area, maybe encompass some of the green too. Cover maybe a couple of square feet with the soapy water. Wait five minutes, then you'll need to get down on hands and knees to see if any bugs have crawled out or up to the tip of the leaf blades. If they do, invert a clear plastic sandwich baggie over the top of them to capture them and post us a picture.

If the above doesn't yield anything, can you post a picture of some individual leaf blades from the junction between brown and green grass, if you have a camera with macro capability.

It would be a good idea to check that brown area at the bottom of the slope too.
Toronto, Canada
Toronto50
Aug 13, 2017 11:45 AM CST
sooby said: have you noticed if the turf there pulls up easily as if the roots are not anchoring it any more?


Yes, it pulls up easily. Here is a picture:
Thumb of 2017-08-13/Toronto50/cb6b37

sooby said:
can you post a picture of some individual leaf blades from the junction between brown and green grass, if you have a camera with macro capability.


Picture of leaf blades:
Thumb of 2017-08-13/Toronto50/40d621

I will try the soap test a bit later and let you know what I find.


Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Aug 13, 2017 12:05 PM CST
Can you lift a section of the turf near the edge between green and dead and see if there are any large white grubs in the soil? Process of elimination because it's probably not that if it's been in exactly the same place each year and you've never had skunks digging there (unless the fencing is keeping them out).
Toronto, Canada
Toronto50
Aug 13, 2017 12:19 PM CST
sooby said:Can you lift a section of the turf near the edge between green and dead and see if there are any large white grubs in the soil? Process of elimination because it's probably not that if it's been in exactly the same place each year and you've never had skunks digging there (unless the fencing is keeping them out).


Interesting, this is what I found under the turf:

Thumb of 2017-08-13/Toronto50/0aa0e2

Edit: If these are grub worms, they have been in the same area year after year. That doesn't make much sense, does it?
[Last edited by Toronto50 - Aug 13, 2017 12:28 PM (+)]
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Tisha
Aug 13, 2017 12:30 PM CST
Welcome! Toronto50.
5 yrs. same spot.
Think @Cal_Sue`s `chemical` train of thought possible. Previous residents some sort of spill.
If no insects or disease maybe remove dirt and replace with clean topsoil.
Toronto, Canada
Toronto50
Aug 13, 2017 12:47 PM CST
Tisha said: Welcome! Toronto50.
5 yrs. same spot.
Think @Cal_Sue`s `chemical` train of thought possible. Previous residents some sort of spill.
If no insects or disease maybe remove dirt and replace with clean topsoil.


How many inches of soil should be sufficient to replace to be on safe side for the grass roots?
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Aug 13, 2017 12:53 PM CST
The guy on the left is not a turf pest, I'm not sure what the white thing is, I can't see it clearly enough. It doesn't look like a C-shaped grub anyway. The soap test should tell you if you have chinch bugs or some other pest. Make sure to flush the soapy area with plain water afterwards, at least on the green part.
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
Aug 13, 2017 12:54 PM CST
If it was a previous chemical spill we'd have to figure out why the turf is OK in June but not in August.
Toronto, Canada
Toronto50
Aug 13, 2017 1:11 PM CST
sooby said:If it was a previous chemical spill we'd have to figure out why the turf is OK in June but not in August.


The pool was using regular chlorine with the previous house owner, 5 years ago. I am not excluding that there were chemical spills when he was cleaning it.
I tend to believe now that it is a chemical problem, since the location is always the same.

My theory is that the turf looks OK in June because it just started growing. But once the roots grow deeper (August) then they run into the chemical spill.

N. Ohio (Zone 5b)
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Tisha
Aug 13, 2017 1:16 PM CST
Toronto50,
Please follow thru with @sooby and her line of thought. More likely right.
Petroleum product accident is a thought. Grill lighter fluid etc.
Could be 6-12+ inches, depth of sod plus little extra.
@sooby will know how better than me. Lots of smart people on this site! Thumbs up
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
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sooby
Aug 13, 2017 1:28 PM CST
Some pests would tend to go for the same location if it suits their environment more and they don't travel far for subsequent generations. This is a typical time of year for chinch bug damage to show. With pest damage the turf is often OK at the beginning of the year and then starts to show stress from the feeding when the weather gets hotter or as the pest gets bigger and eats more. Chinch bugs also like sunny areas, so if that's the sunniest spot then they may tend to gravitate there. Doesn't explain the dead area in the lower part of the lawn though but, as I said, this kind of thing is a process of elimination unless the cause is obvious. It's easier to rule out pests first because there are simple tests that you can do. If none turn up, then move on to other possibilities.
[Last edited by sooby - Aug 13, 2017 1:30 PM (+)]
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Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Aug 13, 2017 2:43 PM CST
I had a section, sections of my lawn that for over a decade you could not keep a solid green lawn there.

Heavy irrigation helped but sometimes even that did not get rid of the problem.
I finally put subsoil bug killer over the area and replaced the soil in parts.
Before I replaced the soil one day after watering , dug down ,the soil was more like dry cheap compost made out of wood bark chips down about four inches.
That solved most of the problem but in one area, even with irrigation that are small spots that the grass dies. By small I mean less than a foot by a foot.
When I put in a new crushed granite garden hedge border in I will remove another small section of soil.

For three years I had/have a dead spot in my vegetable garden that smelled odd when I roto-tilled, by dead I mean nothing grew there.
This year after being bare at the start purslane and a few other weeds are moving in. After five years a chemical problem should be gone or changing.



erniesax
Aug 19, 2017 12:37 PM CST
when in doubt assume it's a fungus...for 16.00 $ buy a bag of fungicide made by Scotts... that usually works for me.
[Last edited by Calif_Sue - Aug 19, 2017 11:43 PM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
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sooby
Aug 19, 2017 2:22 PM CST
erniesax said:when in doupt assume it's a fungus...for 16.00 $ buy a bag of fungicide made by Scotts... that usually works for me.


The OP is in Toronto, Ontario - there is a cosmetic pesticide ban in Ontario so the fungicides you can get in the USA are not available here. It also depends on what fungus it is (if it is a fungus) because different fungicides work for different diseases.

Name: Lin
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plantladylin
Aug 26, 2017 3:58 PM CST
I wonder if it could be Brown Patch disease, or some other fungal infection? There's information on Brown Patch and photos on these pages:
http://turfdiseaseid.ncsu.edu/...
http://www.apsnet.org/edcenter...
http://american-lawns.com/prob...

Also found this page with photos grass diseases: http://www.weedmancanada.com/l...
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
Aug 26, 2017 4:15 PM CST
It doesn't look like brown patch, that makes rough circles with often a "smoke ring" around the outside which is quite distinctive. To me it looks more like chinch bug damage if it is not environmental. It's easier to rule out pest damage first because they can be tested for by a homeowner, unless it is an obvious fungal infection with visible signs like leaf spot and/or mycelium. Here are some pictures of chinch bug damage.

https://www.google.ca/search?q...
Toronto, Canada
Toronto50
Aug 26, 2017 4:17 PM CST
Update: I tested the PH of the soil about 10 inch deep this time and it turned out to be acid (PH ~= 5).
Got some limestone and I will spray it just before the rains.
Hope this will help when I will reseed it again next spring.

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