Preventing Lawn Problems


Weed Reduction - Overseeding in the spring and again in the fall thickens the lawn.  With raising the lawn mower to 2.5 inches or higher, that thick turf prevents most weeds, including crabgrass,  from germinating.

Pest Insect Control - Spinodad

Grub Control - Milky spore disease ....

Fungal Disease Prevention - Actinovate each month

Moles - no short term solution; when soil is built they will move down lower and you will never see them.



The long term method for preventing lawn problems is to build up the health of the soil by adding organic matter through mulching every year to increase the population and activity of the soil food web. 

Make Your Lawn Problems Disappear
Among the most common problems in a lawn are grubs and other pest insects, weeds, fungal disease, and moles. Virtually all of these problems will disappear when you are able to build the healthy lawn described in this lawn care section. If you begin to take care of the soil under your turf and if you make your turf grass grow thick and cut it tall, you go a long way towards solving many of those common problems. In this section we summarize how problems disappear, never to return again, when you follow good lawn care practices.

Solve My Weed Problem

Weeds are in a lawn for several reasons. There is enough space between grass plants for weed seeds to germinate, and since most lawns are cut too short, there is sufficient light getting down to the surface of the soil so those weed seeds like crabgrass can germinate. Many of use apply an herbicide every year, year in and year out, but yet the weeds come back.

If on the other hand, you follow our advice and overseed the lawn periodically to make it dense and you raise your lawn mower to 2 ½ inches you will discover that within one or two seasons, you weeds will disappear and only a few dandelions might ever show their faces again. Thick tall grass has no weeds; it is that simple.

What About Pest Insects

Grubs, Sod Webworms, Chinchbugs, Billbugs, and other lawn insect pests can drive you crazy. However, when grass is made to be dense by overseeding every few years, and mowed tall, and you stop using any broad spectrum insecticides, the lawn fills up with what we call “beneficial insects”.

© Robin Brickman
Ground Beetle

You may be surprised to learn that the most important beneficial insects in your entire property are Ants, Spiders, and Ground Beetles. Now we don’t want ants to make their home in the middle of our lawn, but we do hope there are lots of ants, spiders and ground beetles browsing through the grass, because they can control over 50% of the pest insects that ever show up in your turf!!! They eat the eggs of the pest insects, they eat the larvae on the surface, and they eat the adults.

If you grass is cut shorter than 2 inches and if it is not dense like new sod, you will not have many ants, spiders, or ground beetles because they are too vulnerable to their own predators, the song birds in that environment.

Now bring on the songbirds. In our section on Attracting Songbirds to the Yard we show you that by attracting at least four or five species of songbirds such as house wrens, robins, and even starlings, your pest insect population will go down probably by 50%. Yes, they will also eat some of the beneficial insects, but the net result is almost complete pest insect control between the song birds and the beneficial insects.

Another Grub Solution

In our sections on mulching the lawn and caring for the soil under turf we explain how we can get the roots of our grass plants to grow deeper than the normal 2 inches found in most lawns in this country. Grass plants would like their roots to grow down to 6 to 12 inches deep. When the roots of your lawn are down even below 4 inches, the grubs in the soil are spread over a much larger area when they come up near the surface to feed. In addition, the roots of each grass plant are now much more dense and full, so a little munching by a grub will not hurt the plant. Five white grubs in a square foot of bad turf can destroy a lawn. If you have good soil and deep grass roots you can have 15 white grubs per square foot and you’ll never know they are even there.

Then What About Moles?

The Eastern Mole prefers to live in soil at a depth of 4 to 6 inches. The only reason the mole moves up to a level around two inches is because that is where the earthworms and grubs are dwelling. They are all there at two inches because the soil is compacted and the roots don’t go much deeper than two inches. When a mole digs a tunnel at two inches, he creates a mound over the length of that tunnel that causes grass roots to die and your lawn to look awful.

If however we build the quality of the soil and mow the grass taller, the roots move down deeper as do the grubs and earthworms. By fixing the soil, the mole moves back down to 4 to 6 inches where he prefers to live. You still have moles, but you will never see them, and there will be no more ugly mounds over tunnels.

How About Fungal Disease Problems?

In a healthy environment, both below the surface and above the surface of the soil, plants will have billions of microbes (beneficial bacteria and beneficial fungi) on the surface of the leaves and down around the roots of the plant. If the soil is compacted and grass is in stress from being mistreated, that microbe population is severely diminished.

The simple point here is that when you have a healthy microbe population below and above the soil in a lawn, you have little or no fungal disease because those microbes will eat the bad fungal spores. If the beneficial microbe population is weak, the fungal disease spores are much more likely to cause problems.

see all questions...

Do you have a gardening question? Ask Nancy