Spring Lawn Problems To Watch For
Four Most Common Yard Problems After The Snow Melts
We all love to see blades of green grass coming up as the snow melts. Unfortunately, winter often wreaks havoc on lawns in Wisconsin, and the much anticipated green turns out to look more like brown. Addressing problems early in the season will go a long way toward ensuring you have a healthy lawn when summer comes.
Here are the 4 most common lawn problems we deal with every spring.
Browned Out Grass From Snow Melt Products
The salts used in snow and ice melt products is disastrous for your lawn. If you live on a street where your front lawn is a regular recipient of ice melt thrown from city trucks, you’re lucky if any grass survives. Rock salt, in particular, is the harshest. When it dissolves, it burns any plant life it comes into contact with. To make matters worse, it causes the soil to compact. This stresses the roots of any grass that’s already struggling to survive, making it unlikely you’ll ever see green grass there again. The only solution is to rake out the dead grass and reseed.
Browned Out Grass From Dog Urine
If you have a dog who goes potty in your back yard, you can expect to see a lot of brown spots in your yard once the snow melts. The high concentration of nitrogen in dog urine is what causes this. While nitrogen is a key ingredient in many fertilizers, too much will damage and even kill grass.
Usually, the grass subjected to your dog’s urine is beyond recovery. However, it is a good idea to water the area to dilute salts which have accumulated in the soil. There’s a chance enough of the grass will actually recover, but it’s unlikely. Typically, the only recourse is to remove the dead sod and about one-half inch to an inch of soil and reseed.
Lawn Damage From Voles
Voles are furry little varmits that often find their way into backyards over the winter in search of food. Apparently, the term “vole” applies to several different burrowing creatures, although moles are a distinct category. For the most part, voles tunnel through the snow on top of your lawn and feast on grass stems underneath the snow, although some will go underground to eat roots, too. Telltale signs of voles are what look like trails (about two inches wide) in your grass, with clumps of dead grass around them. Fortunately, voles that leave these above-ground trails don’t eat the roots, so your grass will likely recover.
The bad news, however, is that there are voles which will often eat bulbs you’ve planted, as well as root vegetables. They'll also gnaw on the bark of your trees and shrubs—often enough to cause these plantings to die. There is all kinds of advice on how to get rid of voles, ranging from humane trapping to poisoning (not recommended if you have pets or children frequenting your yard). Two bits of advice we recommend:
1. Provide a roost for birds of prey. Owls and hawks will get a vole infestation under control in no time.
2. Pour or spray a Castor Oil-based repellant around any plants you want to protect and around any area where you see holes made by voles. They HATE this stuff! Put it down in early spring before mating season begins in late spring.
Wondering why you have grayish or pink colored patches in your yard? It’s probably snow mold, a fungal disease that often occurs in early spring when the snow is melting away. There is both Gray Mold and Pink Mold, although neither is a particularly vibrant shade of gray or pink. Snow mold is most common when an early, heavy snow cover provides enough insulation to keep the ground from freezing.
The good news about snow mold is that it almost never causes any serious problem for lawns. It just takes a little longer for the affected areas to start looking like green grass again. Since the patches are usually not very large, you can expedite your lawn’s recovery by gently raking any areas affected by snow mold. This will help these areas dry out and prevent any additional growth of the fungus.
Get Your Lawn Off To A Healthy Start This Spring
One of the easiest things you can do to ensure a healthy lawn all summer is to simply pick up any dead branches and rake up the old leaves and debris which have been buried under the snow all winter. The grass underneath leftover fall leaves and moldering old newspaper flyers that drifted into your lawn in late fall needs light and air to survive. Besides making matted grass look instantly better, raking stimulates the turf for the growing season ahead.
One thing we always recommend is to de-thatch the lawn in spring. If you have a small yard, a strong back and enough free time, you can do this yourself with a de-thatching rake. It’s strenuous work, and you will have to rake up all the dead grass after you’re done de-thatching, so it’s definitely not a DIY job for anyone with a large yard and a low tolerance for blisters on their hands.
If you need a hand with getting your lawn in shape and maintaining it through summer, Brennan Landscaping can help. We take care of everything from seasonal yard cleanups to regular mowing and maintenance for both homes and businesses throughout the greater Milwaukee area. Contact us today for a free estimate.
Brennan Landscaping Lawn Care Services Include:
- Seasonal yard cleanup (leaf, branches and debris removal)
- De-thatching and aeration of lawns
- Seeding new lawns or re-seeding existing lawns
- Fertilizing lawns
- Lawn mowing
- Pruning and trimming
- Irrigation system installation
Contact our Milwaukee area lawn care services experts for more information or to request a quote for lawn care services.
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