What To Do About Spotty Lawns?

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by PowellDriver, Jul 29, 2002.

  1. PowellDriver

    PowellDriver LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3


    I am having a serious problem. The lawn that I service looks horrible. I know that it is not our fault because of the drought, but the owner thinks we should be doing more. Well, her lawn has a lot of brown spots and spots were the grass isn't growing back. Plus the weeds are taking over. She thinks that there is not need to cut the lawn if it continously look horrible. Also, she has Zoysia grass. I told her that we will investigate and help her with trying to remedy the problem. Plus she has moles eating up the lawn. Does anybody have any suggestions?

    I cut her grass every 14 days and she waters her grass. I believe that she waters her grass too much also.

    Someone please help!!!!!!

    P.S. What other type of grass seed will look fine with the grass she has currently because she is thinking about changing grass type in the future?
  2. The Mowerdude

    The Mowerdude LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 372

    There's no way that we can really analyze these problems with seeing the yard for ourselves. But we might be able to help some with a couple of things.

    First, you said that she has zoysia. I need to ask: "Is the entire lawn zoysia or is it something else with zoysia patches?"

    If the entire lawn is zoysia, I would be tempted to say the zoysia seems to perform best the less you do with it. If the customer is using a fertilizing service, many times the product they use is more geared toward fescues, which when applied to zoysia can create a real thatch problem which in turn, can choke the zoysia out. With one of my customers, we had problems similar to the ones you described. The customer discontinued his Chemlawn service and we dethatched. Then we fertilized with turkey poop (organic NOT synthetic) that we got at Lesco. We watered that in and let it go for the rest of the season. And yes, it looked terrible and I had to really coach the customer to be patient.That was last season. This year I applied a good dose of turkey poop about the time the grass was coming out of its winter dormancy. After it greened up, I used Lesco's 'Momentum' weed and feed. It really is awesome stuff if the directions are followed. It's critical to wait for the zoysia to be completely out of its winter dormancy though. This year the grass looks better than ever and we didn't have to replug anything.

    Also, zoysia is very drought resistant. So chances are it's not a lack of water, however, you said that she waters it regularly and that you think she might be overwatering it. For us out here in cyberland, it's really hard to say.

    I have another customer who has zoysia and we've noticed this problem. Here in Tennessee this year, we've had a LOT of rain and we're experiencing a fungus problem because the ground is staying saturated. There is a common problem here that we call "fairy ring." It's caused by a fungal bacteria that gets started in a very small spot. The microbes start eating their way outward in a circle and the waste by products are extremely rich in nitrogen. This causes the grass to turn a very deep green color before dying. The result is a circle or semicircle of deep green grass with brown in the middle. If you have this problem, slow down on the watering. Also, if you have any mushrooms in the yard, slow down on the watering.

    You talked about moles. Moles come in looking for grubs. If you can rid the yard of grubs, the moles will usually go away as well. But that's a job for someone who is licensed and qualified to apply the proper insecticides. As for you, stay away from it!

    If you're looking for an alternative in the mole battle, you can do what I do, if the customer is either willing to pay for your time, or the customer is a relative and you're willing to work for free. Walk the yard and mash down every mole run that you can find. Go get a cup of coffee or a cold drink. When you come back in about 15-20 minutes, look for any runs that have popped back up. That will show you where the moles have been active. If it's a small place, get a shovel and dig that little sucker up. If it's a large area, mash it all down again and stand there and wait for the moles to start moving. When they move, you'll see the runs popping back up. Dig em out with the shovel and kill them suckers. Moles usually run in families so don't kill the first one and then quit.

    As for the bare spots, remember that zoysia needs to be plugged and it is very slow in spreading. So if the zoysia has died in spots, it really should be replugged. (after dethatching.) Make sure the customer has not had any pre-emergents applied or your efforts will be wasted. The local Lesco dealer has zoysia seeds available, but I've never used it so I can't speak with experience.

    There is one final thing. With plenty of water, zoysia grows way too fast for you to wait 14 days between mowing. If your making hay when you mow, you're creating a real thatch problem that can also create the problems you're describing. Talk your customer into mowing weekly. And really, IMO, zoysia is the one grass most prone to thatch problems and should be dethached at least once every season and maybe even twice.

    I hope this helps.
  3. PowellDriver

    PowellDriver LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    Thanks for you reply MowerDude

    I entire lawn is zoysia

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