Lawn Care FAQ’s – Common Lawn Problems

Below are some of the most frequent questions we are asked about common lawn problems. You can find out more about these in much greater detail in the book Modern Lawn Care which is available to buy online.

Why do I get worm casts on my lawn and can I prevent it?

Worms create little casts of soil when they burrow. The casts look unsightly and can be messy in damp weather (when the worms are most active in the lawn). However, worms are doing a great job of aerating the soil, essential for healthy grass. So, unless you have a huge problem, it’s best to put up with this small side effect from their hard labours.

You may want to remove the casts as they can blunt your mower blade, and the rich bacteria they contain encourages weed growth. Simply sweep them up using a besom broom.

What do I do about Chafer Grubs in my lawn?

It is actually quite hard to tell if you have chafer grubs as they do all their damage below the surface. A good indication is an increase in the sightings of birds scratching away at the lawn. This acts as a warning sign for this common lawn problem.

Chafer grubs eventually turn into chafer beetles, but before this they live in the ground and eat away at the grass roots. You are most likely to have problems in the autumn before the colder weather drives them deeper into the ground.

Getting rid of chafer grubs is difficult (and for chemical treatments you have to hire a professional). Much better is to let your routine aeration and scarification work deter them away by interrupting their feeding.

Should I treat the crane fly lavae in my lawn?

The first sign of crane flies will probably when you spot the adults flying about just above the grass in the autumn. You may also notice many more visitors to the garden, digging away at the lawn in pursuit of the tasty grubs.

Adult crane flies are quite harmless, but their grubs do eat the grass roots and sometimes the shoots as well. As with chafer grubs, eradicating them is difficult. Much better is to aerate and scarify at the correct times of year which will disrupt their normal feeding activity.

In the past people used to use a heavy roller to kill crane fly and chafer grubs. However, this is not much use as 1) only the eggs are killed, 2) it is hard to know exactly when to roll, and 3) you simply add to the problem of compacted soil.

How do I get rid of moles?

Moles do create big problems in some gardens, with much more visible results than the smaller pests, making them one of the more annoying common lawn problems. And when you have invested in top quality turf and lawn maintenance products, it can be very frustrating to wake up one morning to a patchwork of small soil hills.

The problem is that there is no humane way to catch a mole, and only professional pest controllers can buy and use chemical treatments. However, if instead you decide to use traps, be sure to get humane ones and remove the trapped mole as far away as you can to a new location where it can happily continue doing what it is designed to do.

Another tactic is biological – using materials which the mole finds offensive. Try a pickled egg down the mole hole; it works. Human hair and garlic can also be effective deterrents as can sonic scarers.

How do I control moss in my lawn?

Moss is one of the best indicators that something is wrong with your lawn. So, other than treating it with a good moss killer, the best action is to put right the underlying problem and prevent it from recurring.

Moss likes moist conditions – just what you get with compacted soil with poor drainage. Aerating the soil and scarifying the surface to remove excess thatch will help to keep it at bay.

Good nutrition is also important, giving the grass a thick sward which leaves very little room for moss (or weeds) to invade.

What do I do about worn patches in my lawn?

You may find yourself wondering why patches of your lawn are dying or becoming patchy. Many lawns have little areas which get worn down; it may be where the dog turns at the end of a run or where the children put up the goal posts; sometimes it’s for no obvious reason. It is one of the more common lawn problems, but it can still be really irritating.

Fortunately, you can repair small areas very easily, either by reseeding or laying a small section of turf. It is important to prepare the site carefully to give the new grass a good start. And you will need to water the area well during dry weather until the grass is established.

How can I improve the grass in a shady corner of my garden?

Most grass types do best in good light and sunlight. So, if you have a large tree or bush, or maybe a corner of a building creating some constant shade, ordinary lawn grass will certainly struggle, making it one of the more common lawn problems that you can encounter.

One simple solution is to replace the old grass with a mix specially cultivated for growing in the shade. TurfOnline’s Shadesman Turf is the elite of shade turfs, containing just one species of grass, supranova poa supina. It lives just as happily in the shade as in sunny spots and has a wonderful, thick, lush sward. It grows slowly too and so needs less mowing.