Category: Lawn Disease

Brown Marmorated Stink Bugs, Altoona PA.

I have been asked a few times if the ‘Stink Bugs’ that seem to be dominating Pennsylvania will harm flower beds, gardens, trees, and lawns.

The stink bugs actual name is Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. And well, as you know, they stink.. Especially if they are smashed. These littles insects come from China. The first stink bug was collected from the United States in 1998. Rumor has it that they where brought to the states with shipments from China by Walmart. From what I understand, they originated in the states in Allentown, Pennsylvania.

Will stink bugs harm my bushes and/or trees?
Not that I am aware of. I have never read that they destroy trees. It might become noticed in the future, but currently I have not heard of such a case. So far the answer is no.

Will stink bugs destroy my lawn in any way?
Again, not that I am aware of. Again, so far the answer is no.

Do stink bugs harm crops?
Yes, they do. They cause damage to fruit and vegetable crops and are a extremely high agricultural pest. The bug begins to feed in May / June. They feed from apples, cherries, green beens, soy beans, respberries, and pears, and peaches. I am sure the list contains, but these are the highest damaged fruit crops that the bug feeds from.

Stink bugs have invaded my home!
These bugs are not dumb. They will squeeze themselves into any where they can possibly fit in order to find shelter, to of course, survive the winter months. And your home is no exception. They normally hibernate, however, due to our indoor heating, they become after and fly clumsily around banging into things. Very annoying.

The climate in the United States has allowed them to produce twice as fast as in Asia.

Best way to get rid of a stink bug?
Flush it in the toilet, or, spray them with dish soap mixed with water. It eats the exoskeleton and kills them. Squashing these bugs with a fly swatter or other means causes them to emit there horrible odor. Try not to ‘upset’ the bug as well, this causes them to release there odor. Think of them as a really, really, really small skunk..

Have you started to notice damage from what you thought was caused by a stink bug, but have learned it wasn’t? Still not sure? Leave a comment on this post with the symptoms. Provide as much detail as possible and we will try to give you an answer as to what may have caused the damage. We may even be available (depending on your area) to come and give you a free diagnostics of the damage, and work with you to correct it.

Dollar Spot Disease, Lawn Care

Lawn Disease, The Dollar Spot.

Dollar spot disease is a kind of lawn disease that kills and infects different kinds of grasses. This disease grows in distinct and small circles around the size of a small pancake or a silver dollar. It is easy to take the dollar spots lightly because they do not look dangerous but they can cause serious damage to the lawn.

Dollar spot disease survives during winter in the plant parts in the soil and thatch and it begins to start again as the temperature gets to sixty degrees. Aside from temperature, other factors that cause the disease include low fertility of nitrogen, low moisture in soil when humidity is high, too much mowing during hot climate, and too much thatch. A quality program is needed to provide the lawn proper mixture of fertilizers in order to prevent dollar spot. In addition, your lawn should be mowed or watered regularly.

Identifying Dollar Spot Disease

You can identify dollar spot disease in your lawn in two ways. The first way is through the size and shape of the area that is damaged. Usually, individual spots are very distinct and circular in shape, which are only a few inches in diameter. Another sign of dollar spot disease is the appearance of lesions on grasses. The disease can cause bands in hourglass shape across the grass blade, which is light tan in color with a reddish-brown edge. It can kill the entire grass and your lawn needs reseeding or renovation to control the disease.

How Do I Prevent, Or Get Rid Of Dollar Spot?

It is necessary to saturate your soil regularly because grass diseases including the dollar spot occur in soil with low moisture. However, make sure to avoid watering frequently during the late afternoons or evening. Use proper mixture of fertilizers in correcting the nitrogen fertility during the times of the disease activity.

You can apply treatments such as fungicide in getting rid of dollar spot disease. However, fungicide is not required in residential lawns if the levels of nitrogen fertility are managed properly and other cultural stresses are lessened. Dollar spot disease has different degrees of fungicide tolerance and there are some strains of dollar spot that have become resistant to fungicide, so a particular fungicide may be effective to one disease but not to another. In addition, the use of fungicides can increase disease and insect problems in the future because they can affect the soil organisms such as microbes and earthworms, which help in the decomposition of thatch. In addition, earthworms and other soil organisms improve the health of the grass and help aerate the soil.

You need to have a balanced nitrogen fertility program to control the disease because dollar spot disease is known to be most severe on nitrogen-deficient soil. With a balanced nitrogen soil, the outbreak of the disease will be delayed in the spring and the severity of outbreaks will be reduced. In addition, the performance of fungicide will improve and the recovery of turf will be faster.

Proper scheduling of irrigation is necessary to control dollar spot disease. This is due to how fast the period of dew is relative to the infection extent, so the prolonged practice of irrigation will greatly contribute to the outbreaks of the disease.


Lawn Disease, They Destroy Lawns Everday. Learn how to Protect and how to Destroy them

Lawn Disease, They Destroy Lawns Everday. Learn how to Protect and how to Destroy them.

There is perhaps no single act more authentically American than fostering a beautiful, green lawn. There are magazines, books and even television shows dedicated to keeping your lawn green and healthy for as long as the seasons allow, but sometimes, unsightly yellow spots and dead areas can crop up out of nowhere. Most common lawn diseases are caused by fungus, but identifying and treating the particular disease that is turning your grass yellow is sometimes easier said than done. If you are serious about keeping your lawn in tip top shape, make sure you keep a lawn diary that charts the type of grass seed you are using, when you water, what fertilizer you choose to use and how often you water.

Lawns are never perfect. Even the greatest lawns have some problems owners have to address. Weakened, thinned, and discolored turf are often signs of a possible lawn disease. It is important to be diligent in identifying the possible cause to be able to apply the right solution. Disease can be caused by anything from nutritional deficiencies, drought, bacteria, fungi, or viruses.
There are three major factors that cause Lawn Disease

Vulnerable Plants
Appropriate Conditions
It is much easier to take preventative measures related to these three conditions rather than to heal an infected lawn. While you can’t do much to prevent your lawn from having pathogens, you can influence the conditions and vulnerability of your grass. Proper lawn care is the best thing you can do as a lawn owner to prevent disease. You can apply the right amount of fertilizer and water, while keeping the soil loose and aerated. You can also make sure to mow properly and encourage good drainage.

By far, the most popular and common lawn diseases are melting out and leaf spot. Both of these conditions are caused by common grass funguses, but there is a chance you may be enabling this condition without even knowing it. Leaf spot appears on individual blades of grass as purple or brown spots that begin to take over large swathes of your lawn over a period of weeks. If your grass is growing too thickly in spots or if you are using too much nitrogen in your fertilizer, you can accidently help to bring on this condition in your lawn. You can also enable this condition by mowing too closely and by not allowing enough sunshine to get to your grass. If you can aerate lawn a couple times a year, it can help prevent disease by developing healthier soil. Check to see what sort of proper fertilization schedule your particular kind of grass needs and make sure you are watering on a proper schedule and you will likely see an improvement in your lawn right away.

Necrotic ring spot is another common lawn destroyer that you may encounter. This condition is sometimes known as frog eye syndrome because of the ugly pattern of dead and infected grass it leaves behind. You may also notice a depressed area in the middle of an otherwise healthy lawn. This condition is most common during the beginning of your growing season and again at the end and is found on lawns that need a lot of help growing or on ones that are treated frequently, such as golf courses. You’ll notice a reddish hue in the infected areas that stand out against the healthy green of the grass around it. Change your watering schedule, fertilizer usage and consider enlisting the help of fungicides to beat necrotic ring spot.

If you have a lawn that is especially shady, you may have the same problem that a poorly ventilated bathroom might have: mildew. Powdery Mildew leaves a white residue on the blades of grass that can seriously inhibit natural growth. In serious instances, the powdery mildew can get so bad that it eventually yellows the blades and kills off an entire section of your lawn. Try and trim away hedges, bushes and trees that are killing off access to sunlight in infected areas and consider replacing the variety of grass you’ve chosen for that area with one far less susceptible to mildew.

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Flooding, Mushrooms, and Moss

Heavy rains or flooding can be harmful to your lawn. If the lawn is underwater for less than four days, the temperature is below 60 degrees and no erosion takes place, then chances are high that the lawn will survive.

Remove all debris, silt and mud deposited on the lawn after a storm. In cases of a hurricane, salt water presents a danger. If either salt water or oil has contaminated the soil, be sure to flush the lawn with water until you’re confident the root system is free from contaminants.

If you’re having frequent flooding problems, fill in any low spots or depressions in your lawn and grade slopes so water drains away from the house and its foundation. If you’re still having drainage problems, consider installing a drain tile.

Lots of wet weather often causes the growth of mushrooms, which work to break down old organic matter in the soil. Mushrooms are not harmful, so you can mow them down if you like.

What is that Brown Spot in my Lawn?

The most common question at The Lawn Institute is the most difficult to answer. Asking through an email or a phone call about the health of your lawn and expecting results is about as successful as calling your doctor and asking why you are sick. Brown grass can be caused by many things. Some are harmful to the grass and some are grasses natural response to the environment that allows lawns to be successful.

Brown grass is caused by stress. Either biotic (living) or abiotic (not living) stress placed on a plant. Often both are a direct result of how we take care of our lawns. Biotic stresses include things like insect damage and disease infestation. Abiotic stress can include drought, temperature and lack of nutrients along with many other factors.

Biotic Stress

Insects- There are a tremendous amount of insects that feed on grass. Many beetles begin their lives as grubs in the soil that feed on the roots of grass. The caterpillars of some moths also live out a part of their lifecycle in lawns. For the most part insects will feed on one part of the plants, roots, crowns (the growing point at the base of the plant) or shoots (blades of grass). Root and crown feeders are usually the most devastation because shoots can readily grow back when damaged. Most insect feeding will cause rapid turf decline in irregular patches often growing larger as the insect populations increase. There are far too many insects to try and describe the damage of all in this article. The key is to try and determine if an insect is in fact killing your turf. Insect damage often makes grass look water starved or wilted because the roots are damaged and the plant can’t get water. If you suspect insect feeding is the cause for your damage we can flush them out.

Remove the bottom of a clean coffee or paint can. Push the can into the ground at the margin of a damaged site, making sure to include some undamaged turf. In a large bucket mix one quarter cup of dish soap with two gallons of water. Slowly pour this mixture onto the grass that is in your coffee can. Repeat until water will stand on top of the soil. This will cause most insects in the turf to float to the surface.

Soil burrowing insects will not surface using this technique. If grubs are causing the damage then the grass will easily roll back like carpet. Other root feeding insects can be found by parting the grass and looking at the soil surface for insect movement. There are many scavengers and beneficial insects that call your lawn home, do not assume that all insects could be the culprit. The collected insects can be taken to a local garden center or Agricultural Extension office for identification. These people can also discuss your treatment options. A healthy lawn is the best defense against lawn feeding insects.

Diseases- Lawns are attacked by a few bacterial diseases and many fungal diseases. Fungus easily breeds in some turfgrass environments. Fungal diseases are often an indication of another problem. Just as it is more difficult for a healthy person to come down with an illness it is difficult for a healthy lawn to come down with an illness as well. A lawn that has balanced fertility, good soil health and adequate moisture is less prone to disease. Different diseases affect types of grasses in different geographical regions. It is difficult to make generalizations about these diseases but for the most part fungicides are not needed to cure the problems. Diseases will occur when environmental conditions are correct for their development. Some fungal diseases can develop even when below freezing air temperatures are present. Taking a soil test and fertilizing according to its recommendations is a great way to decrease the likelihood of lawn diseases. Often times too much fertilizer is more of a problem than too little so always follow your soil test and local recommendations for fertilizer applications.

Removing surface water by better contouring of the surface, increasing soil drying by aeration to increase downward water movement and decreasing leaf wetness by irrigating in the morning are all ways to decrease disease occurrence.

Other- Animal waste elimination is a large cause of brown spots. Dog urine has long been known to kill grass. Also large birds like heron and cranes can cause burning of the turf. The damage is caused by the high levels of nutrients and salts in the waste and can only be combated by immediately applying water to the affected area to dilute the concentrations.

Abiotic Stress
Grasses require a certain set of conditions to grow correctly. Brown spots are most often caused by abiotic stress. High or low temperatures can cause grasses to brown as can drought conditions. Often the browning is caused by protective plant dormancy. When conditions become favorable for growth again then the grass will begin growing green shoots once again.

Nutrient deficiencies or imbalances and high or low soil pH levels can cause grass to brown. Different plants grow best under differing conditions. A soil test is usually needed for diagnosis of these problems.

Excess fertility caused by spills or overlaps can often cause brown spots in lawns. Every year homeowners over apply fertilizer and cause grass to brown. To reduce these problems always fill your fertilizer bag over a hard surface and follow the fertilizer manufacturers recommendations for application.

Things you would never think of can also cause brown spots in grass. Bug spray is a huge culprit. Often found are two green footprints with brown grass surrounding them. The bug spray could not get under the shoes of the applicator but the bug spray affected all of the surrounding exposed grass.

Differing conditions under the grass can cause brown spots as well. Pockets of stone or sand can cause the grass above to dry out rapidly. As well clay below ground can decrease the grasses ability to root once again causing brown spots. Some times the brownspots are even caused by having different species of grass in the same lawn.

Mowing is a repeated stress on grass and if not done correctly can easily cause brown spots or even a brown tint to the entire lawn. When grass is cut to short it will often expose more dead grass and expose more of the soil. Not only does this cause an unsightly appearance it is also not good for plant health. Dull mowing equipment can also cause the grass to appear brown because it tears grass and leaves rough edges that dry out.

The reasons for brown spots in lawns are numerous. Diagnoses of lawn problems beyond the rudimentary almost always need a trained professional or a seasoned veteran. Universities offer advanced and specialized degrees on the subject and thousands of books have been written. Determining why that brown spot is in your lawn is not as easy as you might think so do not be discouraged if you get differing opinions.