Natural Home Remedies for Your Lawn

A lawn can be a vital, beautiful area for play and relaxation, or it can be a source of frustration and weekends full of weeding. The healthiest lawns, surprisingly, are not those that are painstakingly mowed and constantly fertilized, but rather those that are allowed to grow high and are given a certain amount of neglect. When problems do crop up, a few items from around the house can give a lawn a helping hand.

Grubs

A healthy lawn will care for itself and is the best defense against pests and disease. Water deeply and less often, mow to a height of three inches to shade out weeds and spread compost in the fall if the soil becomes depleted. Never scalp a lawn or cut it short. Lawns that are stressed become targets for pests, and weeds will gladly take advantage of a struggling patch of grass. A few grubs here and there and the occasional weed can be quickly handled with a good pair of gloves.

Sawdust

Dog urine will create bright yellow rings of dead lawn surrounded by tall, lush growth, but this problem can be solved with a bit of sawdust. First, remove any waste and hand-water deeply. Dog urine is rich in nitrogen, which is why the lawn grows quickly at the edge of the spot, but the area with dead grass has received too much nitrogen. By flooding the area with water, the concentrated urine is leached from the soil. Next, add a handful of sawdust. The carbon from decomposing sawdust will offset the excess nitrogen and even the salt balance of the soil. Never fertilize an area burnt by dog urine. Leaching out the concentrated urine will allow the rhizomes from nearby grass to return and fill in the bare area, as long as dogs are kept off the recovering lawn. Replacing the dirt and reseeding is usually the last measure, but may be necessary in severe cases. Many homeowners create a mulched area especially for the dog's use to prevent this problem entirely.

Dark Green Rings

Also called fairy rings, according to North Carolina State University, these dark green circles begin small and spread over time. The grass inside of the ring is often weak or dying. The whimsical ring is caused by various fungi, some of which thrive in soils high in wood debris, dead tree roots or other organic matter. Others take advantage of drought-stressed lawns. As the fungus grows, it releases extra nitrogen, which causes the lush rings. The soil then becomes low in nutrients. To clear up this problem, hand water the area deeply. Some types of fungi will cause the soil to repel water. Aerate the soil, de-thatch if the thatch is deeper than one-half inch and make sure the soil is absorbing the water. Add a layer of nitrogen-rich compost to replace missing nutrients and the lawn will eliminate the problem itself as it becomes healthier. Fairy rings with mushrooms, on the other hand, are often caused by over watering. Check the soil--if it appears damp close to the surface, allow the area to dry before resuming a reduced watering schedule.

Chinch Bugs

A lawn that has poor soil, thick thatch and is drought-stressed makes an easy target for chinch bugs. These beetles make their presence known by the spreading yellow areas of grass, killing the lawn as they suck the moisture from the plants. Although the areas may look like a lawn needing fertilizer and water, chinch bugs can be detected by setting a tin can, with both ends removed, into the soil. Mix one tsp. of dish soap (not dishwasher soap) into one qt. of water and pour roughly a cup into the tin can. After a few minutes, any chinch bugs will be forced to surface. If the lawn is affected by chinch bugs, de-thatching, adding a thin layer of compost and watering deeply will allow the lawn to recover. Chinch bugs can also be controlled by mixing two tsp. of dish soap and four tsp. of isopropyl rubbing alcohol into a gallon of water. Spray the area every three days for two weeks. This should only be used in severe cases, as the mixture can also harm plants and beneficial insects.

Keywords: dead grass spots, chinch cinch bugs, fairy rings lawn