Quick Tip: Why Does my Lawn Have Brown Spots this Summer?

In this dry summer we are experiencing this year, there are typically only two factors creating brown spots in your Gainesville lawn - drought stress or chinch bugs. The two are actually related as well, because chinch bugs prefer to attack struggling lawns that have been stressed from dry weather. 


When explaining drought stress, the common response many homeowners have is, 'How can that happen if I have a sprinkler system?' It's a valid concern. Most of our clients have irrigation systems that are running properly and are following the watering restrictions - only running them 2 days per week and watering early in the morning. So, why is their lawn struggling? It's not about whether their irrigation system is running, but how long and often it's running that matters.

Picture a bucket filled with water and left in the middle of a sunny lawn. If you were to check it a week later you’d see it probably lost about 1” of water. That bucket resembles the moisture in your soil. If you don’t replace that inch of water, gradually your soil (especially the top layer) gets more and more dry. As the temperatures rise in summer, that bucket will have more water evaporated in a shorter amount of time due to the heat.

Many times, this is counter-balanced by our summer afternoon rains that are typically very frequent. Unfortunately, this year those afternoon rains haven't come yet. Typically, a norrmal sprinkler system's settings can make up the difference between the evaporation of water and lack of rain within the water restrictions, however this summer that has not been the case. We have two suggestions to fight the drought stress until the rain comes:

  1. Increase your irrigation run times. (See our blog post on changing irrigation timer settings) Instead of running :20, try :30 or even :40 minutes on each zone, depending on sun exposure and plant need. Where your lawn/plants are struggling the most, don't be afraid to double it or even triple it. Although GRU's water is expensive, your plants and lawn probably cost more.
  2. Sign up for HydreTain.  Hydretain is an appicationto the landscape that improves water retention by 50%. It's a seasonal application and will help minimize drought stress in dry summer heat like this. Call our office and See this YouTube video for more info. 


The second factor we see damaging lawns this time of year are chinch bugs. Chinch bugs are the most destructive lawn pests we have and are also the most difficult to control - especially without the right equipment.

They damage the grass by sucking the plant's juices, leaving it looking drought-stressed. Normally, we first see the damage to the grass in the hottest and driest areas of the lawn first - many times near the driveway or sidewalk. A clump will go from green to yellow to brown in color within about a week.

If you're a DIY client, you can buy insecticide at your local home improvement store labeled for chinch bugs. We highly recommend getting the lquid product and spraying it versus using granular though, due to it's ineffectiveness. 

As discussed in the article, 'Why Chinch Bugs aren't a Cinch to Control,' many homeowners are finding that the same old products they used to buy at Home Depot and Lowe's aren't working anymore though. As the insects develop a resistance to certain products, other means have to be used to protect your Gainesville lawn, and that's where a professional lawn pest control service really excels.

A reputable Gainesville lawn spraying company has access to products beyond what the home improvement stores carry, and as an added plus, those products are also child / pet safe. Whichever way you decide to go, this time of year it is crucial for the health of your lawn to watch out for both dry soil and insect damage. They will wreak havok on your investment, and more importantly your curb appeal.

If you think chinch bugs may be attacking your lawn, contact our office today for a no-obligation lawn consultation with Joe, our lawn technician. If you feel that your irrigation system isn't functioning properly, we would love to schedule a One-Hour Irrigation Tune-up with our sprinkler technician. If we can be of help in any way, please call our office at (352) 378-LAWN today, or fill out our online request by clicking the above links.