A smooth, green, unblemished lawn is every homeowner's dream, but like many dreams, obstacles arise that make achieving it a challenge. Lawn problems include issues of disease and soil fertility, insect pests and weeds, and even your neighbor's dog. Watch your lawn carefully to resolve them before they destroy your green lawn dreams.
Horticulture and Environment educator Sandra Mason of the Illinois Cooperative Extension says weeds are plants that have to deal with an unhappy human. Mason suggests that expecting your lawn to be completely weed-free is probably unrealistic, but weeds can be indicators of more general lawn management problems. For example, a proliferation of common chickweed suggests that the soil beneath your lawn is too compacted or poorly drained, while violets and ground ivy will thrive where there is too little sun for your selected grass seed mix. Proper lawn management--selecting appropriate seed for conditions, aerating the soil and providing adequate but not excessive nutrients--will improve your lawn and reduce the weeds.
The North Dakota Cooperative Extension Service says lawn diseases can be serious and difficult to eradicate when environmental conditions favor development. Fungi are the most common lawn disease, and fungi development is encouraged by overwatering and inadequate drainage, lack of sufficient sunlight and stress factors like mowing too short or soil compression. Blights, molds and mushrooms are the dominant lawn diseases. Providing adequate drainage and watering deeply but less frequently, selecting appropriate seed mix varieties for the available sunlight and mowing regularly at a tall grass setting to allow healthy plant and root development, will remedy most fungi-related lawn diseases without resorting to chemical fungicides.
Circles of dead yellow grass punctuated by clumps of grass that grow faster, darker and taller than the surrounding lawn--these are not symptoms of a strange lawn disease. They are tell-tale signs that a dog has been visiting. Dr. Steve Thompson, director of the Purdue University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, writes that dog urine and feces are a difficult lawn care problem--one made more difficult when one member of a household loves the dog and another is committed to a manicured lawn. Thompson recommends "frequent manual removal" of dog feces from the lawn. Urine presents a more difficult issue. Thompson advises physical separation of the dog from desired green lawn areas by use of fences or walking on a leash. Otherwise, heavily watering the patch of lawn immediately after urination can dilute the nitrogen and acid-intensive urine and reduce or eliminate lawn burn. In badly burned areas, removing the thatch and reseeding may be necessary.