a stick figure made of grass holding a question mark on a clear day

Brown patches will show up in every lawn from time to time. If the culprit is identified before it spreads, you can minimize the damaging effects and return your lawn to its healthy ideal.

Shade Stress

Shade stress occurs when one or more sections of your lawn aren’tĀ getting enough sunlight. You may notice the grass thinning out and weeds beginning to fill in where the grass used to be.

An easy way to take care of shade stress is to choose a shade-tolerant groundcover or turf grass (such as St. Augustine) to plant in shady areas. You can also thin out tree branches a bit and raise the height on your mower to allow the leaf blades to capture more sunlight.

Drought Stress

Drought conditions can cause grass blades to wilt and take on a silver color. Effective watering can reduce the effects of drought, however. Water thoroughly in the mornings when the day is cooler and less water can evaporate.

If you live in a region prone to drought, you might consider putting down a grass variety that can tolerate drier conditions, such as Buffalo or Bermuda.

White Grubs

These larvae feed on roots during the summer and fall months. Lawns infested with grubs can be lifted up easily, like carpet. To test for grubs, cut out a square foot of turf and inspect it. If you find more than ten grubs, you can apply nematodes (small worms that kill grubs) to the affected areas and water heavily.

Chinch Bugs

These lawn pests look like small black beetles (only 1/5 inch long) and the adults have wings. They can cause irregular patches of yellowing lawn that usually begin next to a walkway or curb. To test for chinch bugs, cut out the bottom of a coffee can and push the can one inch into the turf near the edge of a dead patch. Fill the can with water and the chinch bugs should float to the top.

Effective methods of fighting chinch bugs include irrigating effectively and avoiding a broad use of lawn chemicals which drive away predators such as birds and other insects. Use insecticidal soap or other minimally toxic treatments on infested areas.

Take-All Patch

Take-All Patch is a fungal infection that rots grass roots and causes turf to darken and thin out. It spreads primarily in the spring and fall when conditions are moist and cool.

You can fight take-all patch by making sure that your lawn drains properly and avoiding heavy fertilization. In addition, you can raise your mower height and avoid heavy use of broadleaf herbicides, which weaken grass.

Brown Patch

Brown patch is also due to a fungal infection. Unlike Take-All Patch, however, brown patch does not cause the roots to rot but instead attacks the blades. It usually shows up in circular patches from late fall to early spring.

Solutions for brown patch include watering early in the morning and allowing grass blades to dry out during the day. Avoid over-fertilizing and aerate your lawn once a year.

Iron Chlorosis

Iron chlorosis occurs in alkaline soils with high phosphorous levels. Grass blades typically become striped yellow and green. If you suspect iron chlorosis, you should immediately stop fertilizing with phosphorous. You can also spread a thin layer of compost onto your lawn and provide iron supplements for immediate relief.

For more information on treating common Texas lawn problems, contact your local gardening center or The Grass Outlet today.