Everybody wants to show off the best lawn in the neighborhood, but few want to learn the basics of what can go wrong with a lawn. Having the best lawn in the neighborhood means more than just watering or installing a fancy sprinkler system or fertilizing or mowing on a regular basis. Here’s the facts, Fanny, and the sooner you learn them the better off you will be.
Your lawn is a battleground on which a continual war will be fought and unless you learn to play God, you are destined to having a lawn that comes out the equivalent in beauty of downtown Mobile, Alabama. If you’ve ever spent time in downtown Mobile, Alabama, you know that is something you don’t want.
Let us talk nematodes, for instance. Nematodes are microscopic in size, but can cause enough damage to even the best lawn to make you the Mel Gibson of the neighborhood. Once the darling, you are now the outcast and everybody knows your dirty secrets. That dirty secret is expressed in the fact that your lawn grows thinner and thinner, turns Mountain Dew green or Mello Yellow yellow or even fails to grow at all. You can make all The Passion of Christ movies you want in the form of fertilizing, aerating and watering your lawn, but you’ll never get rid of the anti-Semitic statements that are nematode damage. Unless, that is, you call in the services of a lawn care professional who will test your soil and then recommend expensive professional fumigation.
Okay, so your lawn isn’t a B-movie titled Invasion of the Nematodes. Look around and see if you can spot small hills of dirt that rise anywhere from just one inch to an entire foot high. Then look to see that the grass beneath those hills and around those hills are dry. Eventually, of course, that grass dies. Guess which movie you have just become the star of? Invasion of the Ants. Funny thing about ants. By themselves they offer absolutely no danger to the future of your ability to call your lawn the greatest in the neighborhood. The real danger posed by the appearance of ants lies in those hills and the tunnels that exist beneath them. Anthills will cut off the supply of oxygen to your grass and basically smother them as if you were a giant faux mute Indian placing a pillow over the face of Jack Nicholson. The tunnels below dry the soil beneath the existing grass, thereby strangling the root system and ultimately killing the grass. Be aware that most products designed to kill ants give you a window of about two months before they arrive again.
Have you ever woken up one morning and walked out to get your paper and found what should be a quite appealing ring of darkly beautiful grass in several places across your lawn? These rings can range from a few inches in diameter to a few feet. You may notice some mushrooms growing inside the ring. By which I mean inside the dark green circle and not within the hole of standard green lawn found within the circle. This ring is so aesthetically appealing that it has been given the name Fairy Ring. Sounds pretty nifty. The truth is less appealing. That dark green circle is the result of fungi breaking down organic matter. The fungi search for acidic soil mostly, so there is that to consider. The fungi won’t attack the grass per se, but their feeding on that organic matter leads to the grass losing much-needed nutrients. You can’t get rid of Fairy Rings by investing in some Anti-Tinkerbell chemicals. Nor can you get the dark green circles to die by refusing to clap your hands. You must get rid of all the excess dark green grass and apply copious amounts of nitrogen. You also need to aerate and make sure you keep those areas watered.