Pests and Diseases
- Birds are eating my lawn
- Ants nests
- Mole next door!
- Toadstool spores; Is it possible to transfer them?
- Worms and Worm Casts
- Yellow patches after cold weather
- Brown patches in the lawn
- Cottony mould on new grass in autumn
- Blackbirds digging in the lawn
I have suddenly been invaded by magpies and crows ripping chunks out of my lawn. I've tried scarers but they keep coming back. What can I do?
Hello Dot, this not common but not unusual either.
You have either leather jackets which are the grub of the crane fly or daddy longlegs, or chafer grubs just below the surface of the lawn. These are extremely tasty for the local wild life and you'll not prevent them until all the grubs are gone. Have a read of the relevant section and also look in our shop at the recommended poison for chafer grubs and leather jackets Provado Lawn grub Killer.
These have been increasing over the last 2-3 years and are making the lawn look very unsightly. They create mounds of like sifted soil which make mowing very difficult as the mower simply takes the top off leaving exposed soil which leaves bald, bare patches etc. We have tried various measures, all of which kill the grass which does not regenerate.
Look forward to your advice.
For starters read this section on dealing with ants in the lawn. Once you've killed the ants, brush away the anthill on a dry day. Because of the tunnelling the area will be dry so water it thoroughly several times. You may then need to reseed the area if the grass has been killed.
My neighbour has a mole digging up his lawn. Is there anything I can do to stop it coming my way?
The most you can do is to deter the mole from entry as it’s unlikely you can physically prevent it getting into your lawn. Barriers are often ineffective and cause all kinds of problems for other beneficial wild life, particularly hedgehogs.
You might have to try the electronic pulsers that you stick in the ground. I know of someone who has connected one up to an external battery and this seems to have done the trick. I would have thought the number and power of these is critical to their effectiveness but I’m not a specialist.
I’ve also heard that outside lights that shine on the lawn at night can also put them off but as moles are often about during the day I can't quite see how that's going to work! I think you might have to Google this one to get more advice though please let me know your experience so I can pass it on.
Is it possible to transfer toadstool spores from one lawn to another via machinery? (lawn mowers, scarifiers, aeators) If transfer was possible via machinery to an 'uninfected soil', (akka never had toadstools in 20 years), how quickly could new toadstools appear in ideal conditions?
It is possible to transfer a lot of biology from one lawn to another. This goes for weed cuttings on mowers, weed seeds and spores; in particular the fungal spores of the disease red thread. This is after all a design feature of nature to aid the spread and survival of the species aided primarily by the wind, insects, animals and birds.
The transfer is less important however, than the seed, cutting or spore finding a suitable place to grow. If a weed seed can't make contact with the soil because of a dense sward then that is great weed control! If the fungal spore doesn't find any decaying organic matter then you won't get toadstools. On the other hand, the spores may well have been residing in the soil for many years just waiting for 'ideal conditions' - cool, moist with decaying organic matter. Deciding where the organic matter came from (old roots or tree buried deep in the soil, natural organic content or thatch) is the first step; you then need to decide if you can or want to do something about it.
Finally, though toadstools can indicate a thatch problem they are primarily indicators of organic content. This is a highly beneficial as a component of a healthy soil and I for one would rather have a lawn with, rather than without toadstools........and if they're the edible variety all the better!
Have just come across your website and a good site it is. My son has just purchased his first house and the lawn is awash with worms/casts They have almost destroyed any grasses. I have scarrified and lawn dressed in Sept last year. I intend to use Ferrous Sulphate as you recommend in March/April Anything else I should do?
Thanks for your kind comments David.
Firstly the worms aren't destroying the lawn even if there is an abundance of them. It may look like the casts are taking over, and yes, they will smother some grass but the chances are you also have other issues.
Worms like wet, loam or clay based soil and without seeing the lawn I'm going to have to make an assumption that you have a shady lawn (at least at this time of year), it has been reasosnably wet and your soil is not sandy. These conditions make the soil very desirable for worms but are also not ideal conditions for grass.
If I'm right in the above, do anything you can to improve drainage, perhaps hollow tine every autumn and if possible reduce shading. This will help the grass. I also note you scarified in the autumn but did you overseed? If you didn't, and the lawn is bare in places then do this in April.
Finally, though worms are highly beneficial, like everything else you can have too much of a good thing! Ferrous sulphate is a good idea as it acidifies the lawn surface and will make the worms keep their heads down for a while and therefore reduce the problem casts without killing the worms or affecting pets or wildlife. Several applications, rather than just one, 4 to 6 weeks apart at about 2g a square metre in the recommended volume of water is the way to go. Other than that, keep the mowing height reasonably high, remove grass cuttings and maintain fertility.
Following the recent cold weather we have suffered damage around the green mainly the edges up to about 4' in. The damage is probably caused by the hard frost and looks like yellowish patches in general 6-8" diameter. How can we treat this?
I can pretty much guarantee you that any disease you see now in January after the snow and very cold weather is snow mould, a variant of fusarium. To reduce the likelihood or severity of future occurrences do check out whether any extra maintenance is needed to aerate and remove thatch. If you need the green throughout winter and have the apprpriate spray licences then consider systemic fungicide applications in October or November. If the disease is still active then a contact fungicide now may help.
To repair the damage in spring heavily rake the affected areas followed by dense spiking and then re-seed. To speed germination cover the patches with polythene to raise the temeperature.
Hope that helps
Please can you advise how to treat random largish areas of brown grass patches that have appeared during the last 2 summers. The lack of water is a possible cause but adjacent areas of the lawn are rich and green. The lawn receives both autumn and spring/summer weed and feed treatments and some intense watering last summer help to reduce the problem which has now recurred. There is not pet damage or contamination from mowers etc. Would a wetting agent help?
End of september I introduced new top soil in to my garden and planted new grass seed. I also took the oppurtunity to improve drainage albeit after being planted the seed was subject to a lot of rain and ground was very wet indeed. The grass seed came through perfect, nice green colour all fine. However it has now developed small patches of a white mould which is very concerning. I have no idea if this is a mould that has come as a result of warm wet conditions or introduced in the new top soil. At any rate very concerning. Is it treatable?
Unfortunately for you this is a wonderful example of pythium blight or cottony blight. Please Google it for more info.
Not that common in the UK - it's close relative fusarium is very common and we issued a Lawn Alert last month regarding the possibility of outbreaks. Both like mild/wet/humid conditions with pythium enjoying new grass in particular.
The spores are everywhere so not a soil problem. Different grass species suffer to varying degrees and seed merchants/breeders go to great lengths to breed in disease resistance.
Unfortunately there is not a lot you can do about it - fungicides are little help on this one and even if they were the damage is already done. So, wait until growth starts in spring, rake out dead patches and re-seed them. DO NOT fertilise until spring.
Next year in October treat the lawn with ferrous sulphate - it helps prevent disease
I have had black birds digging in my lawn, I have dug holes to see if there is any bugs that they might be trying to get at and i can't find any bugs but a large amount of worms, is it possible that this is what they are digging for and if so what can I do to stop it, perhaps bird feeders.....
At this time of year the chances are good it's just worms they're after. First of all be pleased you've got worms - in the lawn that is! They make for a healthy soil, however, if you want to reduce their activity using 'Lawn & Worm sul-pH-ur' eventually acidifies the soil surface and the worms stay below out of reach of the blackbirds.