Problems with my lawn.... HELP!!!

Asked August 5, 2019, 5:30 PM EDT

Hello, I have been experiencing some pretty serious issues with my lawn, and I was hoping that someone might be able to offer some answers. I have maintained a well above average lawn year after year for approx. fourty years, and I have never seen anything like this. My neighbor is having similar problems as well. We had a problem with crane flies about 2-3 months ago, but this is something different. There are many areas where there are large brown "sick" looking spots that just seem to keep spreading throughout the lawn. It almost seems like two different problems, between the front and back lawns. In the front, as you can hopefully see from the attached photos, in some parts of the lawn, the grass is laying over and it brown, and extra watering doesn't seem to help. I can easily pull up clumps and and it looks kind of rotten underneath and the roots seem to be go in all kinds of directions.My neighbor said that he has even been raking the areas like that to get them to stand up before he mows. The problems in my back lawn seem to be different. I keep getting these areas of brown, weird looking grass that also doesn't seem to respond to extra watering. In some areas, I can easily pull up sections of grass, and especially when it dries out, it almost looks like straw. I have fertilized several times with 16-16-16, ammonium sulphate and Scott's Turf Builder alternately. I have pulled up and dug up lots and lots of patches of grass, but it just keeps spreading and it is driving me (and my neighbor) CRAZY!!! Hopefully the photos will help you understand what we are dealing with and help you to figure out what the heck is going on. HELP PLEASE!!! P.S. - I could send more photos if that would help. Thanks very much in advance, Greg Wilson Eugene (Santa Clara area)

Lane County Oregon

3 Responses

This one has slowed down some of our experts. I am not specifically a lawn person, but we'll give it a bash. I strongly suspect you have some disease processes going on. You are overfertilizing which would predispose the lawn to such problems. If you are also overwatering, that will compound the problems. Craneflies love an overwatered lawn, especially one which receives frequent but shallow watering.
Unfortunately, the only way we are going to get the definitive answer is for you to bring samples to the the Eugene Extension office on 10th and Jefferson, where there is access to the Plant Diagnostic team with microscopes and other aides. Photos alone do not unfortunately cut in this case. The samples should be cut out 12x12 inches x6", wrapped in plastic and brought to the extension at 996 Jefferson. Hours there are 10-1 and 2-5 M-Th. It is best if the samples are very fresh. You can call ahead if you like.
Wish I could do better for you from what I see, but perhaps we'll solve this anyway.

Hello Pat,
Thank you SO much for your answers to my problems with my lawn. Your answer actually makes perfect sense to me. I guess you could say that I have been "loving my lawn to death", This has really been kicking my butt, and it seems like the more that I try to deal with it, the worse I make it, which makes even more sense now, because besides tearing up and replanting huge patches all over my lawn, I have also been fertilizing and watering more. Besides changing the watering and fertilizing frequency, do you have any other suggestions as to what I can do to correct the problem? Should I test my soil or have it tested? Is that something that the extension service can assist with as well? Again, thank you SO much for your help with this. I feel much better already! - Greg Wilson, Eugene

Actually a soil test would be a good idea. I suspect at least your potassium and phosphorus counts are through the roof right now. Next month you might consider thatching just to clear out the dead material. It will look awful, forewarned. Then you can overseed at double the recommended rate in time for the fall rains. Try to push a screwdriver into the soil. If it goes easily, no problem of compaction, if not, you may need to restart the lawn from scratch. It still would not hurt to have a sample looked at. I love working this service, but it does have the limitation of no hands on. Good luck.