Lawn care: grubs, grasshoppers, and dead spots

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SeattleLaw
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Lawn care: grubs, grasshoppers, and dead spots

Post by SeattleLaw »

We have had major issues with our lawn for the last couple of years and I am looking for some solutions. The only reason we keep our small yard is for our two dogs (who don't help it look any better :D ).

The recent heat wave certainly hasn't helped, but our sprinklers run every morning.

Our lawn has brown dead patches where nothing grows, and weeds are starting to grow in the other areas. I know that the sprinklers are hitting these areas, so something else is killing the grass.

Japanese beetles have been a problem for the last few years, and have destroyed a lot of our plants. I know that grubs are under the grass because I took some of it out and found them all over, so I'm guessing they are the primary culprit. I tried using Scotts GrubX on the lawn earlier in the season. I'm not sure if that worked or not. We also have a ton of grasshoppers (not sure if they damage grass or not?)

What's the best way to deal with grubs, weeds, and dead grass?

Is there another way I can find out what's killing the grass?

I try to avoid nasty chemicals, but I'm desperate at this point because I don't want the entire lawn to die. The front strip of grass also looks terrible and was one big strip of weeds until I sprayed lawn weed spray on it (which got rid of the weeds but didn't leave much else...)
jebmke
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Re: Lawn care: grubs, grasshoppers, and dead spots

Post by jebmke »

sounds like you might also have something like Brown Patch fungus. Watering every day isn't a great idea. Depending on the location, Brown Patch is impossible to eradicate but it can be controlled with fungicide.

In my experience, lawns and dogs aren't that compatible. Dogs tear them up pretty well and it becomes an annual process of restoration. Not as bad as horses so there is that.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
WoostaGal
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Re: Lawn care: grubs, grasshoppers, and dead spots

Post by WoostaGal »

Perhaps if you cut your grass a little higher to help prevent it from drying out in the heat. Also, mulching your grass into your lawn may help it resist the heat and keep it healthy.

My neighbor asked me what I do to keep my lawn looking so good - which is nothing except these two items. My 'lawn' is more like a collection of weeds than a lawn. :D
livesoft
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Re: Lawn care: grubs, grasshoppers, and dead spots

Post by livesoft »

Perhaps the best way is to Google it and not consult with Bogleheads.org. ;)

I think is it common knowledge that in some areas watering your grass every day discourages grass roots from growing deeper into soil. Instead they are encouraged to stay near the surface where they can get exposed to heat and die off. Daily watering will probably make your grass less tolerant of dry weather. There is a solution for that.

As for grubs since you have seen them, you have them. To kill them one needs to apply insecticide where they will come in contact with it at the time they are feeding. Also insecticide can degrade and sometimes is designed to do so because nobody wants insecticide leaching into the groundwater and polluting the surrouindings and the planet. You do not want your yard to become a toxic superfund site. But old insecticide either in your garage or on a store shelf can also be degraded. If I buy pesticide, then I buy the minimum amount needed for a month. That way I am not storing away something that is going to go bad or that I have to throw away if I decide to sell my house.

I see fungus and Brown Patch were mentioned. While you may have (especially with daily watering and cool mornings) you should read up on it.

Some people would claim that dog pee would kill grass. Maybe, but wherever my dog pees the grass is greener and lusher. The dog is provide fertilizer in this case. The only way I can have a consistent green lawn is to fertilize the entire lawn, but do not over fertilize which will kill your grass. For instance, a neighbor put down fertilizer by tossing it around with a gloved hand. There were definitely spots were a lot of the granules ended up together and the grass died there. It took a season of rains to wash away the fertilizer, but in the meantime those spots were great for weeds which were more tolerant of high salt and loved the extra fertilizer to help them grow.

Do you have neighbors? Do they have grass that you like and seems to be thriving? If so, then please ask them what they have done. But whatever answers you get please filter through your common sense reasoning. Your neighbors' yards will be subject to the exact same weather (temps and rain) that your lawn experiences, that's why it is important to talk with them.
Last edited by livesoft on Wed Jul 10, 2024 7:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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jebmke
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Re: Lawn care: grubs, grasshoppers, and dead spots

Post by jebmke »

WoostaGal wrote: Wed Jul 10, 2024 7:28 am Perhaps if you cut your grass a little higher to help prevent it from drying out in the heat. Also, mulching your grass into your lawn may help it resist the heat and keep it healthy.

My neighbor asked me what I do to keep my lawn looking so good - which is nothing except these two items. My 'lawn' is more like a collection of weeds than a lawn. :D
We cut very high; ~ 4 inches. Right now, the heat and dry spell has made it go dormant so it doesn't have to be cut at all. Looks a bit ragged compared to neighbors who cut low but now have brown lawns.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
livesoft
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Re: Lawn care: grubs, grasshoppers, and dead spots

Post by livesoft »

I mentioned getting the roots to grow deeper. This cannot be done overnight nor in one week. Probably you cannot do this in 2024 anymore, but maybe in early Spring 2025 you can have a plan ready to implement.
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Onlineid3089
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Re: Lawn care: grubs, grasshoppers, and dead spots

Post by Onlineid3089 »

You could give some beneficial nematoads a shot before going to chemicals. https://www.arbico-organics.com/categor ... -nematodes I used NemaSeek once when my wife found a few grubs in the garden. I don't know if it actually worked as she only found a couple while planting, and I believe there isn't any recommendation to do anything about them if there isn't at least several per square foot. As such I never bothered to go dig around after applying it as I wouldn't have been certain to find any in the first place.

I also bought some milky spore, but haven't used it.
zlandar
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Re: Lawn care: grubs, grasshoppers, and dead spots

Post by zlandar »

Hard to tell without pictures.

It's usually better to spread out lawn watering. Better to water deeply 1-2 times a week than multiple times. Every day is too much.

How to check and treat for grubs. Great article as it points out the difference between grub treatments:

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/how_to_ch ... _your_lawn

What are you spraying for the weeds? You need to be careful as selective weed killers can damage normal grass when it's too hot. Hopefully you are not spraying Roundup like someone in my neigborhood did a couple years ago. He didn't know it kills everything and destroyed his lawn.

Dog pee can burn/kill grass. You could hose down the area after they pee to dilute it.

Last thing would be fungus.
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8foot7
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Re: Lawn care: grubs, grasshoppers, and dead spots

Post by 8foot7 »

Our yard is tall fescue but it's not designed for direct sun and temperatures in the upper 90s like we've been experiencing the past 2+ weeks. I water deeply on Saturday mornings (3.5 hours across seven zones) and then if it's unusually hot I will also add a Wednesday watering on the same schedule.

It's actually doing fairly well all things considered on a regimen of grub control and antifungal, but unless we can drop ten degrees and have a few thunderstorms on back-to-back days, it's going to brown out soon, and then at that point I just let it go. There is no point in wasting hundreds of dollars of water on a lawn that just needs the season to change to get right again. We rehab in the fall with aeration and overseeding.

I agree with livesoft/don't agree with others re: dog pee. Cat pee, yes. Dog pee does not damage fescue to the point it kills it unless the dog literally pees in one spot all the time, never varies, and you never water the grass.
Last edited by 8foot7 on Wed Jul 10, 2024 8:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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lthenderson
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Re: Lawn care: grubs, grasshoppers, and dead spots

Post by lthenderson »

SeattleLaw wrote: Wed Jul 10, 2024 6:58 am The only reason we keep our small yard is for our two dogs (who don't help it look any better :D ).

Is there another way I can find out what's killing the grass?
You are aware that dog urine is high in nitrogen and kills grass? They sell treats that you can give to the dogs or they also sell chemicals that you apply to the spots after the dog is done with their business, both of which neutralize the high concentrations of nitrogen.

FWIW, we weren't picky about our lawn so we opted for nothing and our farm yard lawn was full of dead spots until the last dog died and we never got any replacements. A couple years later it was a uniform lush green again and the only thing we did was wait those couple years.
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yankees60
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Re: Lawn care: grubs, grasshoppers, and dead spots

Post by yankees60 »

WoostaGal wrote: Wed Jul 10, 2024 7:28 am Perhaps if you cut your grass a little higher to help prevent it from drying out in the heat. Also, mulching your grass into your lawn may help it resist the heat and keep it healthy.

My neighbor asked me what I do to keep my lawn looking so good - which is nothing except these two items. My 'lawn' is more like a collection of weeds than a lawn. :D
Same here!
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Seal the Deal
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Re: Lawn care: grubs, grasshoppers, and dead spots

Post by Seal the Deal »

Onlineid3089 wrote: Wed Jul 10, 2024 7:49 am You could give some beneficial nematoads a shot before going to chemicals. https://www.arbico-organics.com/categor ... -nematodes I used NemaSeek once when my wife found a few grubs in the garden. I don't know if it actually worked as she only found a couple while planting, and I believe there isn't any recommendation to do anything about them if there isn't at least several per square foot. As such I never bothered to go dig around after applying it as I wouldn't have been certain to find any in the first place.

I also bought some milky spore, but haven't used it.
The nemetodes worked well for me. I sprayed them two springs in a row a few years ago. No more dead spots due to grubs and no more moles since their food is gone!
YeahBuddy
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Re: Lawn care: grubs, grasshoppers, and dead spots

Post by YeahBuddy »

SeattleLaw wrote: Wed Jul 10, 2024 6:58 am We have had major issues with our lawn for the last couple of years and I am looking for some solutions. The only reason we keep our small yard is for our two dogs (who don't help it look any better :D ).

The recent heat wave certainly hasn't helped, but our sprinklers run every morning.

Our lawn has brown dead patches where nothing grows, and weeds are starting to grow in the other areas. I know that the sprinklers are hitting these areas, so something else is killing the grass.

Japanese beetles have been a problem for the last few years, and have destroyed a lot of our plants. I know that grubs are under the grass because I took some of it out and found them all over, so I'm guessing they are the primary culprit. I tried using Scotts GrubX on the lawn earlier in the season. I'm not sure if that worked or not. We also have a ton of grasshoppers (not sure if they damage grass or not?)

What's the best way to deal with grubs, weeds, and dead grass?

Is there another way I can find out what's killing the grass?

I try to avoid nasty chemicals, but I'm desperate at this point because I don't want the entire lawn to die. The front strip of grass also looks terrible and was one big strip of weeds until I sprayed lawn weed spray on it (which got rid of the weeds but didn't leave much else...)

Well, the most effective way to deal with this is with the "nasty chemicals". It sounds like weeds are overtaking your lawn so it's do or die time.

But first, to directly answer each question you have -
- what's the best way to deal with grubs? Scott's Grub Ex
- what's the best way to deal with weeds? - selective herbicides
- what's the best way to deal with dead grass? - dethatch, or rake it up, aerate, put down new grass seed.

Basically you will have weeds vs grass battle and you want the grass to win out. On to my Ted Talk...

Rule of thumb is to first measure your yard and second get a soil test. That way you know the ph, nutrients, and what the soil is deficient in, so you know what it needs and how much of each product you need to buy. But to be honest, I have always skipped these steps.

I would put down Grub Ex again, since you confirmed the presence of grubs.
Next is your full renovation. I would first kill all those weeds. Start fresh. Use something like this

https://www.amazon.com/Compare-N-Save-C ... d_source=1

and mix with the appropriate amount of water and some blue marking dye in a backpack sprayer. (that way you know you covered the area)
Blanket spray the entire area.

7 days later - Mow low, bag, dethatch.

Next day, repeat the blanket spraying

7 days later - mow low again, bag, dethatch, spread 2 yards of compost per thousand square feet.

Next day you can seed, use starter fertilizer, rake in the seed, add peat moss over the top (retains moisture, prevents birds from eating your seed)

Water seed thoroughly. And everyday from now on....

This is literally the best way to deal with that mess. most other ways are a bandaid on the problem.

Once you get a nice lawn, you want to get on a good schedule of frequent lawn mowing, fungicide, grub control, pre emergent and fertilizer.

I can help with that later if you PM me with your location. Hope this helped!
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