Pests, Weeds & Diseases

Akers of Lawn are often getting questions about pests, weeds and diseases. Below are common problems our customers come across. It is important to identify your issue correctly so that treatment can be quick and effective. We have included both chemical and natural alternatives where possible.

Pests & Diseases

There are many varieties of pests and diseases. Many lawn diseases are naturally dormant, with many living happily in our soil without us being aware until the right conditions. The following conditions can bring on these dormant diseases:

  • Very cold temperatures
  • Wet winters
  • Humid autumns
  • Hot dry summers
  • Leaving the lawn too long
  • Watering too much or not enough
  • Leaving clippings or leaves on the lawn too long
  • Acidic soil (determined by pH testing)
  • Incorrect fertilisers being used

Regular mowing, removal of clippings and thinning of thatch by scarifying and coring can help prevent most disease and fungus. Sometimes chemicals are needed to assist this process. Pests such as Black Beetle, Cockchafer and Army Worm cannot be prevented but can be treated. Below are the most common we encounter.

Pest / Diseases

Description

Treatment

Black Beetle and Cockchafer

Black Beetle

Larvae

Black / brown beetle approximately 25-30mm long. Adults appear at the end of April to start of May and live for 5-7 weeks. The grubs / larvae hatch after 4-6 weeks and they feed on the plant growth in the earth until they mature to beetle. Larvae are approximately 3-4 cm long

Symptoms

The mature grub does the most damage and the damaged turf can be rolled back like carpet. A common sign that you may have Black Beetle is birds pecking at your lawn a lot (especially early morning),dry patches where roots have be eaten and the turf comes away like hair from a hair brush.

Must be treated using pesticide before the beetles can lay eggs. Black Beetle treatment comes in a puffer powder pack or sprays, both available from hardware stores and garden centres. Best retreated after 2 weeks to kill any larvae that may have matured. If larvae are present when preparing for lawn installation an insecticide should be applied before you proceed.

Spring Dead Spot

Spring dead spot

Unique to couch grass, Spring Dead Spot is most noticeable by round dead spots from 10cm up to 1 metre in diameter. Beginning in autumn, they go dormant over winter and are often not noticed until spring.

Difficult to control, Spring Dead Spot needs several fungicide treatments. Spraying is usually done first, and may take more than one application. Follow sprays with scarifying, coring, regular bi-monthly fertilising during growing season. Reduce any shade and water only in morning.

Moss/Algae

Moss

Moss usually grows where bare patches are (such as thin areas in damp conditions), in shaded areas, and in compacted soils that moisture cannot drain away. It does well in soil with acidic ph levels.

Core to open up the soil, add gypsum, check ph and apply lime if necessary. Treat with Moss Killer product. Remove dead moss and disturb the soil, oversow and top dress over seed.

Mushrooms/Fungus

Mushrooms

Mushrooms need moisture and food such as thatch, leaves or roots of trees to feed from. Usually found in well shaded, thick, thatched and compacted areas of lawn.

Ensure you use a catcher on the mower and reduce moisture in lawn. Coring to reduce compaction, scarify to reduce thatch and fertilise to increase nitrogen levels to help breakdown of organic matter in soil.

Dollar Spot

dollar spot

Dollar Spot is identified by small circular brown or yellow spots on the lawn surface, usually around the size of a dollar coin. Most often caused by a lack of nutrients in soil, which can be aggravated by other lawn conditions such as compaction, excessive thatch and shade.

Recommended management is coring, scarifying, not watering at night, decreasing shade and regular bi-monthly fertilising all year around.

Brown Patch

brown spot

Brown Patch are rounded dying areas, most often circled by a perimeter which is darker in colour. Most commonly evident in spring, they start around 20cm and can increase up to 1 metre in diameter. Usually transferred from outside source via shoes from another lawn, mower or pets.

Treat with proper lawn fungicide or it can sit in the lawn for years and be transferred to other areas or lawns or emerge in own lawn when not in peak condition. Recommended management is to start with pruning trees and bushes around to minimise shade, water only in morning, bi-monthly fertilising, scarify and core the lawn once given fungicide treatment.

Fairy Ring

fairy ring

Fairy Rings are circle shaped starting at 30cm in diameter ranging to large areas that may spread over entire lawn area. They present as a bright green ring in the lawn or mushrooms present in circle.

Recommended management is to dig out area infested and replace with new soil and turf. Alternatively, allow ring to grow to outside of lawn, then scarify to remove excess thatch, core lawn, apply regular fertilisers and water well.

 


Weeds

Weeds are unfortunately an act of nature and the best way to help prevent them from overtaking your lawn is by ensuring a nice healthy lawn that is mowed regularly. However, knowing the exact type of weed can help you treat it effectively. There are two main types of weeds; annual weeds and perennial weeds. Annual weeds germinate and grow to maturity and die in one season. Perennial weeds are any weed that germinates, grows to maturity, sets seed, and repeats this cycle.

Weed

Description

Treatment

Sour Sob

Oxalis pes-caprae

This is an annual weed. It has small, light green clover like leaves with black spots, which then produce a small yellow bell shaped flower. As it has a main root along with small bulbs this makes it difficult to remove by weeding as the bulbs tend to drop off fairly easily creating more weeds. These are commonly confused as clover before flowering.

Mowing more regularly helps deplete the bulb. Selective or Broadleaf Weed sprays will not work on these. Can be sprayed with glyphosate (Round Up) but will kill all plants around it.

Dandelion

Dandelion weed

Dandelions are perennial weeds and grow up to 30cm high and 20cm wide. They have light green toothed leaves and produce a solitary double yellow daisy like flower on hollow stems.

Manual Weeding and application of herbicide selective broadleaf spray.

Onion Weed

Onion weed

An Onion Weed is an upright, short-lived perennial herb with a flowering stem up to 80cm high. They germinate any time of year, but most commonly in late summer to autumn. Onion Weed spreads mainly via seed, which is transferred via air, water, on shoes or on clothing. The seeds can remain viable in soil for many years.

Manual weeding but must remove roots or will regrow. Cultivate in summer to kill old plants, redo the following summer to control new seedlings. If necessary, spray with glyphosate with wetting agent but will kill surrounding plants.

Crab grass

crabgrass

Crab Grass is an annual creeping weed that crowds out the lawn. They are common in hot, dry environments and turn purple later in the season before dying out. The leaves are grey-green, long and coarse textured with shallow roots. Crab Grass is commonly confused with Summer Grass.

Manual weeding, mowing more frequently and application of selective herbicide spray.

 

Paspalum

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Paspalum is a perennial weed that has grey-green grass like leaves and produces spikelet flowers on stems. Once the weed matures, the roots are very strong and difficult to remove manually.

Manual weeding and application of herbicide spray. May take several sprays.

Nutgrass

nutgrass

Nutgrass is a perennial weed and are long slender grass like leaves which grow between 20 and 50cm tall. They also produce creeping stems which reach underground. Dark to bright green in colour, Nutgrass is shiny, and smooth to touch. Dormant tubers can remain viable for up to 10 years in soil.

Difficult to control once established. Manual weeding not advisable as can break off tubers (bulbs) to create more. Needs moisture to survive so can die if deprived of water, also susceptible to shade. Herbicides available to spray, but may need several sprays.

Clover

Clover

Exactly as it sounds, this perennial weed has Clover-like shaped green leaves with white circular markings on thin stems, which produce small white ball shaped flowers.

Application of Herbicide spray, selective spray, or granular "clover kill" fertiliser.

Bindi

Bindi

Bindi weeds are annual and are often recognised for their prickles. The weed has small light green fern like leaves and produces small brown seeds with sharp spines.

Application of Bindi herbicide in early autumn, before the plant sets in. May take several sprays.

Winter Grass

Winter grass

Winter Grass is a fine leaf grass that emerges in the winter season and naturally dies when the weather warms up.

Pre-emergent kills the weed at the seed stage and must be done in autumn. It is strongly suggested that you spray if you have suffered in past years. Can be treated with specialised Winter Grass killer but may take several sprays.

Creeping Oxalis

creeping oxalis

A perennial weed, the Creeping Oxalis is a light fleshy taproot, with slender stems that creep horizontally. The stems root at intervals with leaves along the stem and small yellow flowers in clusters of one to six. They flower in spring and summer.

Selective herbicide treatment but may take several sprays.

Summer Grass

summergrass

Summer Grass is a thin grey-green grass with leaves that emerge in summer. They produce spiky seed heads on upright stems.

Spray with a pre-emergent as it kills the weed at the seed stage must be done in spring. Suggested to be done If you have suffered in past years.