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Lawn Problems and how to Identify

There are many and varied problems associated with keeping a good - or even reasonable - lawn. Quite often the problems are caused by something quite simple. That is, if you know what to look for! Describing a lawn problem seems to be beyond many of the people who write emails to me for help. A brown spot is a brown spot is it not? Well, err no, not always.

Simple problems usually call for simple solutions, and so it is with lawn problems. First though, we have to do an accurate diagnosis of what the problem actually is.

This page will deal with the most common lawn problems that are not caused by pest or disease. By lawn pest, we refer to insects or whatever that are smaller than rodents, dogs and deer! So for lawn pests - such as leatherjackets - we have separate pages - as we do with lawn diseases - a different matter altogether. Lawn diseases are of course problems for the lawn, but here we deal with physical and animal problems.

If you decide to ask us for help via email, please describe the symptoms fully - and if possible, enclose a picture.

  • Moss In Lawns - In terms of visit, moss in lawns is the favourite! If you have it in your lawn of course, then it will not be on favourites list. Moss in the lawn is quite easily identified - however, there is another culprit that often poses as moss in lawns - that of Pearlwort, which can look like a 'coarse moss. Moss takes on several forms - much depending upon the type of soil and the frequency and methods of you general turf grass managaement.
  • Brown Patches on Lawns - After moss in the lawn, the all-descriptive broad ranging 'Brown Patches on my Lawn' is next in line for the help box. A brown patch on the lawn can be a spot, a large patch, a small patch or even a long stripe! This page should help you determine the problem that ius actually causing this lawn problem.
  • Bumps in Lawns - All lawns start life at a given level. Rarely do any parts rise up to form a bump. However, over time many parts are liable to sink, so we end up with hollows or depressions. In reality I suppose that the areas that do not sink, can therefore be described as bumps. The treatment though, is generally for the hollows and depressions.
  • Toadstools in Lawns - Where there are toadstools in the lawn, there is also decaying matter below the surface - in 90% of the appearances of these generally harmless fungi. That is not to say they are edible. We talk of lawn toadstools rather than edible mushrooms! If they form in rings - and in the summer as well as autumn and spring, they may well be the fungi that cause fairy rings so check that out as well.
  • Thatch on Lawns - We are often asked what thatch in the lawn looks like! If you have seen a cottage with a thatched roof, then that is what lawn thatch looks like - but generally under cover of the live green foliage of the lawn. It is the cause of many diseases, and generally poor lawns - especially as they get older.
  • Dogs and Lawns - Dogs can cause several problems on a lawn. The main one discussed is normally brown patches caused by bitches. But male dogs can also pe the guilty party in this respect. More likely a hidden problem of the dog romping about on the lawn in all weathers, causing compaction. It is much easier to let the dog do this in wet weather - rather than taking it 'walkies'!
  • Scratch holes in the lawn - often blamed upon the dog - or neighbours dog or cat. The main culprit - in rural and urban areas - is probably a fox. Foxes don't only eat chickens. They are very partial to worms and other grubs under the lawn. To get them, they need to scratch them out.
  • Moles in the Lawn - Cute little things which are not at all welcome!
  • Holes in the lawn - Circular holes looking like it has been spiked with the tine of a garden fork.. NOT a problem in itself. It is probably starlings pecking into the soil to help with your leatherjacket problem that you may or may not know that you have.
  • Weeds in the lawn - a bit of a problem to identify the actual weed, but most weeds in lawns are dealt with by using a general LAWN weedkiller.
  • Lawn Sickness - No specific illness, just a phrase that covers a multitude of things, and generally materialising as a week pale green or brown lawn. Simply follow our maintenance tips from the Lawn care page as a first means of defence.


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