16 Sep 2020

The quest for the perfectly green lush lawn can be wrought with perils. Many caretakers and homeowners find themselves subject to a rather persistent defacement of the picture-perfect lawns they wish to maintain; one that is quick to hook in its teeth and settles itself contentedly into the otherwise unblemished vista seen by all who pass by – brown spots. No San Antonio or Austin lawn is immune. Although there can be many causes to brown spots three main culprits arise: fungi, insects, and sprinkler irrigation issues.

In determining the aforementioned causes of one’s unwelcome visitor, one such condition, significant in its commonality, is lawn fungi. As with all fungal infestations, any that aim their assault on the lawn are diseases that thrive amidst warm weather, very high humidity, and moisture-rich environments – though some, like Brown Patch, are most likely to develop during periods of cooler temperatures; well under 80 degrees, in some instances. In its case, it does not spread, becoming apparent to the naked eye, until typical fungi-rich conditions are present once more. Alternatively, these fungi may appear when there is a drought when one has overwatered their lawn when there is an improper nutrient balance, or, simply, one has cut their grass too short. Of the various infections, the most prevalent are Dollar Spot, Red Thread, Summer Patch, Leaf Spot, Brown Patch, and Pink Snow Mold.

Another all-too-common cause of brown spots is insect damage. Some, as in the case of grubs, feed on the roots of plants – causing damage that may appear to be almost drought-like at first. Eventually, the lush green of the proudly healthy lawn gives way to the sickly yellows and anemic browns that one wishes to avoid until the symptoms are too widespread to ignore. Others, as in the case of sod webworms or chinch bugs, aim their strike at the very surface of the lawn – the blades of grass themselves. Feeding on their juices, injecting a toxin that destroys them, these particular insects consume grass until detection and elimination. Cutworms conceal themselves in burrows over the course of the day and emerge at night to feed at the base of grass, shearing through stems entirely, impacting short grasses more than any other. An armyworm appears to be much the same, sheltering during the heat of daytime and feeding in the evening, but these not only target grass – eating the blades and stems – but can skeletonize the leaves on other plants at the same time. Regardless of their particulars, they are an unwelcome infestation to any field of healthy, cultivated plant life.

Finally, the blame for these brown spots might simply lie in the condition of the sprinklers themselves. Perhaps the sprinkler heads were installed too low, and are unable to rise above the level of the plants directly around them – preventing the water from spraying properly. Perhaps dirt has entered the internals of the head, causing gaps in the spraying pattern, disrupting the flow of water, or even breaking the head itself. It may even be as plain an issue as the placement of each sprinkler head being incorrect. Though they might appear to spray equally over an area, at times, this may not be the case. When installing, the spray from one head should stretch over the coverage of the ones that surround it most closely, and vice versa. Furthermore, they could each be placed at the correct distance, and still have imperfect coverage; not because of their placement in conjunction with one another, but because the installation itself on one or more sprinklers may have been performed incorrectly, without anyone’s notice.

These three are not the only reasons that brown spots may appear amidst the grass of the lawn. However, they are some of the most prevalent and should be properly noted and identified in order to rid the lawn of the intrusions that stain it and return the grass to its proper state of being – lush, healthy, and free of unpleasant disfigurement. The Total Lawn and Sprinkler of Austin / San Antonio team are experts in commercial lawn care the diagnosis of sprinkler issues in both commercial and residential irrigation.

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