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How to Diagnose a Lawn Problem

Diagnosing a lawn problem can be a difficult task, even for a professional. There are varieties of problems caused by numerous variables. Grass, just like any other plant, is subject to pests, diseases, damage from animals and just general lack of attention.

Many times the problems we face are from years earlier, even before the house was built. So identifying the source of the problem is key. If you treat for what you think are grubs when in fact you have a fungal disease you will compound your lawn problems.

There are four things to consider when identifying a lawn problem. They are; time of season, location, weather patterns and type of grass.

Time Of The Season

There are very few problems that amount to threats from the start of the growing season to the end. Some problems only occur in the spring while others come about in the summer and fall. The chart below will give you a "first step" in identifying a lawn problem. At the first sign of trouble check to see what might be the possible culprit.

Common Lawn Problems for Types of Grass

Type of Grass



Kentucky Blue

Chinch bugs, Billbugs, Cutworms, Grubs, Sod webworms

Dollar spot, Pythium blight, Summer patch, Red thread, Leaf smut, Leaf spot, Necrotic ring spot, Powdery mildew, Rust


Cutworm, Grubs, Sod webworms, Billbugs

Pythium blight, Summer patch, Snow mold, Leaf spot

Perennial Rye

Cutworm, Grubs, Sod webworms, Billbugs

Dollar spot, Pythium blight, Brown patch, Summer patch, Snow mold, Red thread, Rust

So...if you have Kentucky blue grass and it develops a light grayish coating on the blades you can be pretty sure it's mildew because it's typical of the type of grass. If this occurs and you have ryegrass, you just might have snow mold


Pests and diseases thrive better in some areas of the country better than others. Knowing what is typical in your area will help you diagnose a lawn problem. You can look at some symptoms we have posted on the Common Lawn Problems page. Another resource is your local county extension office. They have volunteers eager to answers your questions because their efforts can be helpful in avoiding pest and disease outbreaks which can be devastating to local farmers.

Weather Patterns

Weather is another variable which can complicate lawn problems. Heat, humidity and precipitation all contribute to how well insects and disease survive. Extreme weather or sudden changes can cause destructive lawn problems. Problems that occur under these circumstances in most cases are nothing to loose sleep over. If extreme weather conditions brings you a problem, you can bet that when the weather returns to the typical patterns for the time of season those problems simply go away.


"Identifying the source of the problem is key."

~Dan Ezell


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