Lawn problems and solutions


Lawn pests and disease: fire ants, chinch bugs, grub worms, brown patch, thatch|John Dromgoole

Encourage a healthy lawn with compost, compost tea, liquid seaweed, and slow-release fertilizers with an 8-2-4 or similar ratio.

Too much fertilizer and mowing too low contributes to fungal and insect problems. Water deeply to encourage roots to grow deep and mow high to protect the roots from heat stress. Encourage beneficial insects and toads to naturally keep insect problems in balance.



  • Chinch bugs:
    You usually see their damage at the hot spots near the curb or driveway. The grass is brown and dead. You can use Diatomaceous Earth, insecticidal soap, neem oil, or orange oil drenches to deal with them.
  • Fire ants:
    Broadcast a product that contains spinosad, a naturally occurring soil bacterium. Always use fresh bait. This is an all organic product that is certified for use in vegetable gardens, too. Follow up with mound drenches of orange oil or even boiling water in areas where plants aren’t growing (like in water meters).
  • Grub worms:
    For fire ants and grub worms, consider beneficial nematodes, microscopic organisms (non-segmented round worms) that occur naturally in the soil. You must purchase them live from nurseries or online sources. It’s critical to follow instructions for incorporating them into the soil.


  • Fungal disease like brown patch can be handled with products like Serenade and Actinovate. But you can also prevent fungal disease by building up low-draining areas, avoiding watering at night, and not over-watering your lawn.


  • This layer of dead and living organic matter builds up when plants build up faster than the rate of decomposition by soil microorganisms. It’s easy to avoid the situation. Do not over fertilize. Do not apply super high nitrogen. Do not overwater. Encourage soil healthy and microorganisms with compost and aeration. Find out more about thatch.