Insects and diseases cause problems. White grubs often feed on the roots, thus killing the grass. Several leaf-spot diseases affect the color and appearance of the lawn; certain soil fungi can kill the grass in small patches. These diseases are usually most prevalent in warm, humid weather. Consult your county Agricultural Extension office for the latest recommended controls for these problems.
The kind of renovation needed depends on the condition of your lawn. If weeds cover 40 percent or more of the area, complete renovation is required. Follow the recommendations for starting a lawn. If the problem areas are small, vertical mowing and removal of the dead grass or thatch followed by topdressing and overseeding may be all that is necessary. Late August is the best time to do this.
If the soil is compacted and feels hard underfoot, it should be aerified; standing water after a rain may also indicate a compacted soil. With problem lawns it may be necessary to aerify in alternate years. Early spring or fall are the times to use aerifiers. These can be rented. Use only the kinds that remove a plug of soil, for the type that merely punches holes in the ground is of little value.
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