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Fungus, grubs or thatch????? HELP!

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by blackm on July 29, 2005 08:06 PM
We just moved into a home that is about 8 years old. The lawn is quickly deteriorating over the last 4 weeks. We had two lawn care companies come out, one said fungus, one said grubs and chinch. We took a sample to local garden center and he said thatch. We have lots of brown spots, especially on North and East sides, clay soil, mostly sun, kentucky bluegrass, no pets or animals, and we live in southeast Michigan. I do know the previous owner had the irrigation system coming on everyday for 20 min in all zones, which seems like way too much. There have been a couple spots that look different in the morning dew, almost like they have webs or something over them and then they turned dark brown a few days later. We have a large yard and don't want to lose it. Most of our neighbors' look immaculate, with a couple having a few small spots, but nothing like ours. I just feel like we can't trust the companies we called because they are in it for the money and both a fungicide and grub treatment won't hurt the lawn anyway. Does anyone have any suggestions? I could send pics if that would help.
Thank you and ANY help would be greatly appreciated!!!!
by BFVISION on July 30, 2005 02:57 AM
blackm,
Generally speaking it sounds like chinch bugs to me. Is the grass easily pulled up? If so then its usually grubs. If you can peel some of the grass back like a piece of sod and look underneath, you could actually see the grubs, white bodies, dark heads and ugly!
The brown spots usually indicate animals or chinch bugs. I would treat for chinch first. Most of these chemicals treat both anyway. For me powder works best, just read the directions.
Good Luck!

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BFVISION

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by RugbyHukr on July 30, 2005 11:40 AM
Well, if you just moved there, and the lawn has gone bad since YOU got there, and you think that it was watering TOO much,then maybe 20 minutes was not too much.

Bluegrass will not tolerate dryness, like bermuda & kikuyu. If it was nice, and has gotten bad since you changed the water amount, you should change back. The brown spots may be dead patches.

Water is cheaper than a new lawn.

You may have any & all of the problems that the companies diagnosed. A week lawn is very susceptible to insect & disease. It sounds like you are underwatering.

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by The Plant Doc on July 30, 2005 08:34 PM
I agree with Rugby. There is not really enough information to give a certain diagnoses, but 20 minutes a day is not much for watering, and a weakened lawn will draw in a lot of problems.
Most chemicals that go after chinch bugs will not have much of an effect on grubs at least in the same application. Grubs are feeding down by the roots, which chinch live on top of the thatch layer. So one you need to leave the insecticide along after applying the other needs to be watered in to get down to the grubs.
A preventative application of Merit in the spring will cover both problems though.

Right now is not the right time of the year for a de thatching,(spring is best) but you can do a core aeration in the fall to help your thatch problem.
Actually thatch is a good thing for a lawn to have. It is only when it gets to be too thick that it becomes a problem. Up to a half an inch of thatch will help control weeds, and act as a blanket protecting the roots from extremes in temps, while allowing oxygen and water to pass through. More then a half an inch will start causing you problems as it will act as barrier and hold the moisture, this will in turn act as a breeding ground for diseases and insects.

I hope this helps

Mike

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Mike Maier
aka
The Plant Doc
by BFVISION on July 31, 2005 06:16 AM
Mike,
I have never used Merit. Is it the best stuff?

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BFVISION

http://www.imagestation.com/album/?id=2122269418&mode=guest
by The Plant Doc on August 01, 2005 10:13 AM
Merit is nothing more then Grub Ex, which I think Scotts puts out. The key like I mentioned is watering it in. It may not have any immediate effect as it takes a while for it to work back up into the plant but one application works the entire season. This is a preventative measure, a good curative application would be Dylox, or Talstar. Both products would need to be watered heavily as well.

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Mike Maier
aka
The Plant Doc
by blackm on August 02, 2005 01:09 AM
Thank you for your help, everyone. The lawn got worse before we cut down on the watering, so I am not sure that is the culprit. We did find that some of the patches were from sod webworms, so we put down a weed and feed with insecticide (Scott's Turf Builder with Summergard), watered it in, and are going to put down Grub ex this week. Our plan is to then aerate and overseed this fall, and begin a rigorous prevention plan in the spring for weeds, insects and grubs. Has anyone had luck using Gypsum to help break up clay soil? If so, how is it used/applied? Thank you again for your suggestions!

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