3 Reasons for Brown Patch in Lawns in North Texas
Brown Patch Lawn Disease (Rhizoctonia solani fungus)
Although many factors can cause brown patches in lawns, only one gets the official title of “brown patch.” Yes, technically speaking, the term “brown patch” refers to the common lawn disease caused by the Rhizoctonia solani fungus. This fungal grass disease is widespread all across America.
What is Brown Patch Disease?
What causes fungal brown patch disease?
“Brown patch” is a grass disease caused by a single species of fungus, Rhizoctonia solani. The Rhizoctonia fungus’s strategy is to hide out of sight remaining dormant in soil and layers of thatch (sometimes for years). The fungus only emerges as brown patch disease once conditions are just right.
The ideal conditions that cause the Rhizoctonia fungus to rear its ugly head as brown patch disease include extended periods of wetness and air temperatures around 75ºF-85ºF. Essentially, once conditions are just the right amount of wet and warm, the Rhizoctonia fungus emerges and spreads rapidly.
How does fungal brown patch affect grass?
Brown patch is a foliar disease, meaning that it affects the leaves of the plant and not the base. Damage is, therefore, focused on the blades of the grass, while the crown and root systems are generally unaffected. For this reason, grass suffering from brown patch typically recovers well once the conditions causing it are corrected.
Unfortunately, lawns that have dealt with brown patch issues in the past are highly likely to reencounter this fungal disease again. Brown patch is well known to be a repeat offender in yards. If your lawn regularly experiences brown patch, then annual preventative efforts will be crucial to the health of your turf.
Types of grass affected by brown patch disease.
All turfgrasses are susceptible to brown patch disease. However, the likelihood of infection and the severity of the effects will vary greatly depending on grass type, lawn care practices, and location.
Brown patch fungus can affect all cool-season grasses but is more prevalent and harmful to tall fescue, bentgrass, and ryegrass. Alternatively, brown patch occurs less often and with more mild effects in Kentucky bluegrass and fine fescues.
Brown patch can also affect warm-season grasses, including St. Augustine, zoysiagrass, and Bermuda. St. Augustine grass is the most commonly and severely attacked by this particular fungus.
How to Identify Fungal Brown Patch
*If you suspect brown patch disease is present in your yard, self-diagnosis and treatment could worsen the problem. Have an expert inspect your property.
The symptoms of fungal brown patch disease.
The Rhizoctonia fungus can invade rapidly, appearing almost overnight at times. Early detection is crucial for effective treatment, so when conditions are wet and warm, be sure to check your grass for signs of this disease. The number one sign of brown patch is – of course – brown patches! These patches will be circular or irregular areas of light brown, thinned grass that range from a few inches to several feet in diameter.
Within these active brown patches, the fungus spreads from grass blade to grass blade, causing each one to rot. Once affected, the blades turn brown and very brittle. However, new grass blades can still emerge in the center of the brown patch giving diseased areas a donut look. Patches may also have a gray/white band around the perimeter called a “smoke ring.”
Upon closer examination of a diseased grass blade, tan blotches with darker brown borders should be visible. You will likely also notice rotting at the base of blades, and some grass may appear darker and water-soaked. White, cottony, web-like mycelium can also be observed on affected grass blades early in the morning.
Seasons and weather conditions that bring about brown patch disease.
In general, brown patch disease requires two basic conditions to thrive and spread: warm temperatures and excess moisture.
Brown patch disease develops most rapidly when air temperatures are 75ºF-85ºF. Cool-season grasses usually start showing symptoms in late spring, whereas warm-season species tend to show symptoms in early spring and late fall. Anything that keeps grass blades wet during this type of weather creates ideal conditions for this fungal disease to take over.
Outbreaks of brown patch disease commonly occur during or after periods of rainy weather when the air is saturated with moisture. However, the Rhizoctonia fungus does well with any kind of prolonged wetness, whether caused by dew, humidity, or even poor drainage.
Other conditions that can contribute to brown patch disease.
As previously stated, brown patch disease thrives from any activity that keeps grass blades wet for extended periods during warm weather. Many times, the source of this excess moisture is actually not the weather but poor irrigation practices. Overwatering and nighttime/evening watering can create lingering moisture conditions that cause brown patch to spread.
In addition to heat and humidity, excessive nitrogen levels are another leading cause of brown patch disease in grass. Grass that has been over-stimulated with nitrogen fertilizer just before or during warm, humid weather tends to be more vulnerable. Other causal factors include poor air circulation, lack of sunlight, poor soil drainage, excessive thatch, and compacted soils.
Treatment for Fungal Brown Patch
Reduce moisture and stop the conditions causing brown patch.
The initial step in getting rid of brown patch disease in your lawn involves removing the conditions that caused it. Naturally, correcting warm or humid weather is not an option. Still, you can reduce the length of time that grass blades stay wet with improved watering practices and boosting soil drainage.
Grass suffering from brown patch disease should be watered efficiently and only as needed. Reducing the length of time your grass remains wet is crucial. Every lawn is unique, so choose your strategy as is most appropriate for your property:
- Set your irrigation system to water early in the morning so grass blades have a chance to dry out during the day.
- Wet soil to a depth of 4-6 inches, and allow the soil to dry out between waterings.
- If you notice dew is collecting on your grass each morning, your lawn probably doesn’t need to be watered at all.
- Rain sensors and smart controllers are also good options to ensure you’re not overwatering.
More tips for treating and reducing brown patch damage:
- Avoid mowing grass when it’s wet.
- Talk to a lawn care company about having your lawn aerated to correct any soil or water retention issues. Aeration improves the drainage and air circulation of the turfgrass root system and reduces damage caused by brown patch.
- Another environmental condition that can exacerbate brown patch is lack of sunlight/excessive shade. To fix this, prune trees and shrubs or remove objects causing excess shade.
Do not fertilize infected areas.
Fertilizer is a necessary supplement for a healthy lawn, of course. However, excess nitrogen levels are a leading cause of brown patch disease. Applying fertilizer during a brown patch outbreak can significantly exacerbate the Rhizoctonia fungal infection.
Talk with a professional lawn care company for the best advice on how your yard can get back to a healthy fertilizer routine.
Avoid spreading the disease.
Rhizoctonia fungus spores are designed to spread well and spread fast. Don’t help them out! Avoid walking or activity over affected areas. Fungus spores can easily be transported around your yard via your shoes/feet. You should also be sure to skip mowing over infected brown patches, as that could cause diseased clippings to deposit elsewhere, spreading the infection.
Although many lawns can recover from brown patch without interference, waiting for weather and environmental conditions to improve can take quite a while. Not to mention, the longer your lawn remains infected with brown patch, the higher the risk of severe damage and complications. Fungicide treatments are the quickest and most effective option to help your grass beat brown patch.
Applying a fungicide product will also prevent the infection from spreading and speed up recovery. However, it is important to note that fungicides are the most effective when applied at the first sign of disease. For best effects, the first treatment of fungicide should be applied immediately after the symptoms first appear.
Never ignore signs of brown patch in your yard. Waiting to take action can cause damage to spread and worsen. The longer you wait to act, the longer grass will have to rot, making it more likely damaged areas will need to be reseeded. Not only is this a pain, but you may have to wait until the active growing season to see an improvement in appearance.
Although fungicides are widely available for purchase, it is a tricky task to properly select, time, and apply them. We strongly recommend hiring a lawn care company so the brown patch may be properly diagnoses and expertly treated.
How Gecko Green can cure brown patch disease.
There are a plethora of harmful conditions and lawn diseases that pose a threat to your lawn’s health. The experts at Gecko Green are equipped with the knowledge and experience to skillfully diagnose and treat any brown patch issue. Our dedicated teams are extensively trained and can provide strategies to protect your grass against many local risks. Your unique lawn care plan will be strategically designed to include prevention and protection against harmful elements like brown patch disease.
Free Lawn Treatment Quote Today!
Are you ready to start enjoying your home and yard today? Fill out the form below for a free, no-obligation estimate! For immediate assistance, please give us a call at 972-895-2001.
Fungal Brown Patch Prevention
Maintain a good lawn care regimen.
The best way to prevent fungal infestations is by maintaining a sound seasonal regimen of good lawn care practices. Healthy yards are better equipped to successfully fight off threats like fungus and diseases. Well-maintained yards are better able to recover from stress and damage as well.
When it comes to preventing brown patch disease, proper irrigation should be the first consideration. When warm, humid weather is predicted, it is essential that you avoid watering excessively. Our guide to healthy irrigation in North Texas will ensure you are watering correctly year-round.
Mow regularly to the proper height for your grass species. Mowing too short stresses and weakens your turf, which can increase the severity of brown patch issues. Check out our guide to mowing in North Texas for the best advice to help keep your yard healthy through every season.
Apply preventative fungicides.
There is no reason to wait for your yard to be attacked by lawn diseases like brown patch. Be proactive by applying preventative fungicides! When properly used, preventative fungicide products are known to be highly successful at eliminating brown patch. This disease is very likely to reoccur in lawns that have previously struggled with the fungus, making preventative efforts all the more crucial.
Selecting the correct products and knowing the appropriate time to apply preventative fungicides is a skill that requires training and experience. Brown patch is a serious lawn disease, and the best way to avoid it is to let the experts take care of it for you.
Have a lawn care company take over your fertilizing.
Brown patch invasions are frequently triggered by excess nitrogen levels caused by incorrect fertilizer treatment techniques. The Rhizoctonia fungus often thrives in yards due to overfertilizing, poorly timed fertilizing, treating the wrong areas, and bad product choices.
We strongly recommend letting your fertilizer routine be taken over by a local lawn care company. A professional lawn care expert will select the perfect products and correctly time treatments for your yard. Hiring a trained professional ensures that overfertilization won’t be a brown patch trigger in your lawn.
The primary causal factor for brown patch disease is lingering wet conditions. Aerating annually dramatically improves soil conditions which helps moisture properly drain through your yard. Aeration not only improves drainage but also breaks up thatch, improves airflow, and repairs compacted soil.
Avoid puddling and lingering wet conditions in your yard by hiring a local lawn care company to start aerating annually for you.
Hire a professional lawn care company like Gecko Green.
Our dedicated teams at Gecko Green provide superior strategies to protect your unique lawn. You can be sure your lawn care plan will be strategically designed to include prevention and protection against harmful elements like brown patch disease. With Gecko Green’s first-rate prevention and proactive treatments, your lawn never needs to be burdened by brown patch disease!
Fungal Brown Patch FAQ’s
1. Is the brown grass inside the patches dead?
It depends on the severity and duration of the infection. To test for dead grass blades, gently tug on an infected blade. If it pulls out with no resistance, the grass is dead.
Brown patch disease attacks and kills blades of grass, but the root system remains intact. This means the affected area can usually recover. However, in some cases, new turf or reseeding the patch may be necessary.
2. Are there any types of grass that are resistant to brown patch disease?
Not completely. There are no turfgrass species that are entirely resistant to brown patch. However, a variety of grasses are available with moderate resistance to the Rhizoctonia fungus. If brown patch is an annual occurrence, consider top-seeding your lawn with resistant grasses.
3. Should I avoid activity on the diseased areas of my lawn?
Yes. You should always avoid activity on any weak areas in your lawn. However, it is particularly important to avoid contact with areas infected with brown patch disease. The Rhizoctonia fungus is easily spread, and your shoes can transport the spores.
4. Should I stop watering my lawn if I have brown patch?
Not necessarily. Brown patch disease does thrive in lingering moist conditions, so during an infestation, it is vital to stop over-watering and limit the length of time that grass and soil stay wet.
During these times, if morning dew is collecting on your lawn, it is likely sufficient moisture to stop irrigation. However, if you haven’t experienced an outbreak, you can usually still water every 4 days (about 1/2 inch per session), even during warm, humid weather.
5. Does shade contribute to brown patch?
Yes. Moisture tends to linger excessively in shaded areas. Prune trees and shrubs and remove objects causing excess shade so sunlight can reach your lawn allowing excess water to evaporate.
Brown Patch Caused By Drought/Watering Issues
If you’ve been finding brown areas in your lawn, there’s a good chance that drought stress is the culprit. Drought stress is one of the leading causes of brown patches in yards all across America. Even if it seems like it’s been raining sufficiently or you’re adding enough water, there’s still a possibility that it’s just not enough. Drought-related brown patches cause your lawn to suffer and look lackluster. Read on to learn more so you can help protect your yard from drought stress.
What is Drought Brown Patch?
What causes drought brown patch?
Drought-related brown patches occur when grass isn’t receiving a sufficient amount of water. Dehydrated, drought-stressed grass is often caused by extended periods of hot, dry weather (drought).
Another top cause of drought-stress brown patches is an inadequate irrigation system or schedule (aka watering issues). The quantity of water that your grass requires changes throughout the year, so you must be sure to change your irrigation schedule with the seasons. Sprinkler systems are also very often damaged or poorly aimed, so be sure to inspect your irrigation system regularly.
How does drought-related brown patch affect grass?
When grass doesn’t intake sufficient water levels, it will go into a dormant or resting state. During dormancy, grass blades turn yellow or brown because the plant can no longer channel extra energy into creating healthy green leaves. The plant enters survival mode, redirecting all of its remaining energy and moisture into the root region.
However, the good news about dormant, drought-stressed grass is that (depending on length and severity of the case) the grass is not dead and can typically recover. It is a normal, natural process for grass to turn brown and dormant when suffering from water withdrawal. Once the grass begins receiving sufficient water again, it should naturally recover.
Dried-out, dormant grasses can remain alive without water for about 4-8 weeks. However, it’s worth noting that if grass is without sufficient water for a month or more, the risk for long-term damage is higher.
Types of grass affected by drought brown patch.
All types of grasses are susceptible to drought-related brown patches. It is a simple fact of life that all plants require sufficient water for survival. However, different types of grasses will have different reactions to drought-stress, and some are much more tolerant to extended drought conditions.
Some grasses (like Bermudagrass) are well adapted to heat and highly tolerant of drought-caused dormancy. These tolerant grasses can recover remarkably well from extended periods of drought. Kentucky bluegrass is an example of a type of grass that is less tolerant of drought-related dormancy. After an extended drought, less tolerant grasses are more likely to experience patches of dead grass that will need to be replanted.
If you live in a region that regularly experiences extended periods of drought, be sure to research the best type of grass for your area.
How to Identify Drought Brown Patch
The symptoms of drought-related brown patch.
Brown patches caused by lack of adequate water intake are considerably sized, randomly shaped brown or yellow grass sections scattered across your lawn. Symptoms include thinning grass, grass losing its healthy green color, and blades may also begin to curl or wilt.
Grass suffering from drought stress is also highly vulnerable to traffic, so you may notice that footprints and tracks linger on the lawn. Symptoms typically begin to manifest once the grass has been without sufficient water for around 2-3 weeks.
What time of year does drought brown patch occur?
Extended periods of drought are most common during the sunny, dry, and overheated months of summer. Symptoms of drought-stressed lawns often turn up in late July once yards have been without water for a couple weeks. Natural moisture occurs less frequently through the summer season, and irrigation for yards is often capped during potential drought seasons.
However, be aware that any time water sources are limited for long enough, drought-stress brown patches can appear in grass.
Types of weather conditions that worsen drought brown patch.
Drought-related brown patches occur when precipitation is sparse, temperatures are sweltering, and the sun is particularly overwhelming. All of these factors combined mean that water for plants and grass is in short supply. It also means that the water that actually does make it to your grass evaporates away much faster. This lack of water penetrating deep enough to reach the root system causes your grass to go dormant, making those pesky brown patches appear.
Treatment for Drought Brown Patch
Provide your lawn with sufficient water levels.
Brown, dormant, drought-stressed grass can typically recover well with proper lawn care practices. The first step in treating these drought-related brown patches is closely examining your irrigation system and current watering schedule. To revive the dried-out, dormant areas in a lawn, you need to adjust your watering schedule, depth, or frequency.
Always set your sprinkler system to water between 5AM and 10AM, so the water can reach the roots before evaporating away in the sun. You should also check your irrigation system to make sure the sprinklers are functioning and aimed correctly.
How much water you need to add to help with drought recovery will depend upon the season and the type of watering device that you employ for irrigation. After you ensure that your irrigation system is running properly, typically the best solution is to add an additional 5-10 minutes to the specific affected zones. You should notice results within a couple weeks or you may even notice a change within a week, depending on the severity of drought. However, if the grass doesn’t start to green up after providing adequate water for 3-4 weeks, it is like the grass has died and needs to be replanted.
When using water to revive a dormant lawn, it’s crucial to not overcompensate. Applying too much water to a drought-damaged yard can overload your dried-out soil creating even more problems.
For more information on proper year-round watering practices in North Texas, check out our Grass Watering Guide.
Mow high in the hotter seasons.
During the hotter, dryer months, mowing your grass too short adds even more stress to your lawn. Through periods of drought, set your mower deck higher to around 3 inches. Longer blades shade the fragile root systems and help the soil retain moisture by reducing evaporation from the sun.
Keep mower blades sharpened so the grass is trimmed with a clean cut. Dull blades pull and rip the grass, which can cause damage to the blade structure.
For more information on proper year-round mowing practices in North Texas, check out our Grass Mowing Guide.
How Gecko Green can cure drought-related brown patches.
Gecko Green offers a variety of services that are all tailored to your specific yard. Our experts are knowledgeable in all areas of lawn care, so whether your lawn is overly stressed or lacking vital nutrients or anything in between – our team can identify and treat the issue. Our specialists can precisely diagnose your yard’s brown patch situation in one visit and guide you to your best course of treatment. Call anytime for a free quote.
Drought Brown Patch Prevention
Maintain proper mowing and watering routines.
Drought-related brown patches are often caused by or made worse by improper mowing and watering techniques. Every season comes with a new type of stress for our yards, and the best way to prevent that stress from causing damage is to have a proper lawn care plan in place.
As we already mentioned, it is crucial to avoid mowing too short during the hot, dry season. Mowing too low increases the stress on your yard. Through periods of drought, set your mower deck higher so longer blades can shade the root and soil.
Creating a successful watering plan depends upon your location, the time of year, and your type of irrigation system. Through the hotter, dryer months when rain is scarce, you will need to supplement your lawn with extra water to sustain plant life (and even more water to keep your yard green).
When making your watering plan, it is also critical that you know whether your sprinkler system has rotor heads or pop-up heads. If your irrigation system has rotor heads, you will need to double the watering time. For example, a great summer watering plan for North Texans would be to water 3 times a week for 20 minutes on pop-up heads and 40 minutes on rotor heads.
Research the best summer watering practices for your area. Being prepared with correct watering and mowing practices is the best way to maintain a healthy, hardy yard that can survive extended drought!
Hire a professional lawn care company like Gecko Green.
Working with a lawn care company is the best way to achieve optimal yard health for every season, but it is particularly helpful during the harsh summer months. At Gecko Green, we offer a year-round lawn care program that is guaranteed to keep your yard healthy and hardy no matter the season. If brown patches appear, you needn’t worry. Our specialists can accurately diagnose the problem and suggest a solution.
Drought Brown Patch FAQ’s
1. Is there a test to confirm that my brown patch is caused by drought stress?
Yes. Try taking a screwdriver and sticking it about 6 inches into your soil. If the screwdriver emerges from the ground dry, your grass and soil are not getting enough water. If the screwdriver comes up moist and dirty, your lawn is receiving sufficient water. In this case, drought may not be your problem, and you should check into our brown patch disease section.
2. What types of grass are the most drought-resistant?
Most warm-season grasses are well adapted to high heat conditions, and they are your best option for a more drought-tolerant lawn. When selecting a grass type for your yard, always make sure it is suitable for your location. Also, remember that even though these grasses can thrive in the heat, they still require proper watering and lawn care practices. Here are a few drought-resistant grass types:
- St. Augustine grass
- Tall Fescue, Fine Fescue
3. Should I stay off the grass during periods of drought?
Yes. Try to avoid the drought-stressed areas of your lawn. These areas are particularly vulnerable to traffic. Any tracks made on them can remain imprinted and cause further damage, such as compacting your grass and soil.
4. Is my grass dead?
Most likely not. It is a natural process for grass to turn yellow/brown and become dormant when overheated, over-sunned, and under-watered. The grass enters this dormant state as a means of protecting itself and avoiding death. However, some types of grasses can’t handle extended drought dormancy. These grasses can experience severe damage and death if left without sufficient water for too long.
5. What will it cost me to fix the damage caused by drought stress?
Provided that the grass has not died, damage caused by drought stress can often be remedied with proper lawn care techniques. In this case, your cost will only be time and the standard water and mowing costs.
However, the price can be steeper if your grass has severe damage or if the grass has died. In this instance, you can try aeration and replanting. Your best option is to work with a lawn care company and see what they recommend. Typically doing this kind of lawn work will cost you about $150-300.
Brown Patches Caused By Chinch Bugs -The Southern Chinch Bug-
There are many different species of insect pests capable of damaging lawns – to name a few: grubs, chinch bugs, caterpillars, armyworms, bermuda mites, and many more. The Southern Chinch Bug is a common culprit for causing unsightly brown patches of dead grass in lawns. These chinch bug brown patches actually mimic the appearance of diseased or drought-ridden brown patches making it tricky to identify.
If you’re experiencing unattractive brown patches in your lawn, you should check to determine the definitive cause before you jump to any conclusions. Follow along to determine if the southern chinch bug may be the source of the brown patch issues in your Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) area lawn.
What Are Chinch Bug Brown Patches?
What are southern chinch bugs?
Southern chinch bugs (Blissus insularis) are among the most serious turf insect pests in Texas and the southern United States. The southern chinch bug is part of the insect order Hemiptera and has five life stages. These insects change from eggs to nymphs to adults in what is called a gradual metamorphosis.
Adult southern chinch bugs are slight and small, about ⅛-⅒ of an inch long. They have black bodies with white wings, and each wing has a triangular black mark.
Newly hatched chinch bugs are orangish/pinkish and wingless with white stripes across their backs. These insect infants then turn brownish-black with a white spot before they move on to adulthood.
How do chinch bugs cause brown patches?
The southern chinch bug feeds on the sap stored within grass blades. These insects insert their sharp beaks into a blade of grass and suck out its natural fluids. After the internal fluids of a grass blade are drained, the grass dehydrates, withers then dies. Chinch bugs cause even further harm to the grass due to their toxic saliva, which is poisonous to plants. Essentially, as they slurp up the plant juices, they also inject a toxin that kills the plant tissue.
This double-whammy damaging effect of chinch bug feeding causes significant harm to turf. As these pests continue to feed and spread outward, the dying blades of grass will become more visible as a group, thus forming a “brown patch.”
How do these brown patches affect overall grass health?
Chinch bugs are capable of wiping out considerable areas of grass, and the further they spread, the worse it will be for overall turf health. Early detection and treatment are essential to regaining a healthy lawn.
Chinch bugs are very efficient at killing turf grass. This means that in addition to the time and money you’ll need to spend on removing these pests, you will also have to dedicate resources to completely reseeding or replanting damaged areas. Millions of dollars are spent every year in the United States on chinch bug infestations and repairing the damage they cause.
Types of grass affected by chinch bug activity.
The southern chinch bug is mainly considered only a serious pest to St. Augustine grass. This grass species is by far the most vulnerable to chinch bug infestations and the most commonly attacked. St. Augustine is the only species of grass that suffers severe chinch bug damage.
Southern chinch bugs may occasionally feed on centipedegrass, zoysiagrass, bahiagrass, or bermudagrass. However, they usually only feed on these when they are grown near St. Augustine grass. Damage to other grass species is also typically minor.
How to Identify Chinch Bug Brown Patches
The symptoms of chinch bug brown patches.
Chinch bug feeding creates irregularly shaped patches of dead/brown grass surrounded by a border of dying/yellow grass. These brown patches expand outward randomly and increase in size as insect populations rise. These damaged areas can develop quite rapidly depending on weather and turf conditions.
The brown patches that chinch bugs cause are often confused with those caused by disease and drought. However, it’s not too difficult to discern the difference – even with an untrained eye. For example, Brown Patch Disease results in rounder, more regularly circular brown patterns in yards instead of the random and irregular damage caused by chinch bugs.
It can be a little trickier to tell the difference between a brown patch created by drought stress or chinch bugs. Both drought and southern chinch bugs cause irregularly shaped areas of brown grass. The best option to ascertain the problem source, in this case, is to check for the presence of chinch bugs.
How do I know for sure if there are chinch bugs on my lawn?
You can usually find chinch bugs in the dying, yellowing grass ring that borders around a dead spot in the lawn. This area is typically where they are actively feeding. If the insect population is large enough, you can see them by parting the yellow grass and examining the soil and base of the turf.
Another classic technique to check for chinch bugs is commonly known as the “coffee can test.” To try this in your yard, cut the top and bottom off from a coffee can. Press the trimmed coffee can about 2 inches into the soil, then fill the can with water. Within about 5 minutes, you should begin to see chinch bugs floating to the surface. If you observe more than one floating chinch bug, some action will be necessary to save your yard.
Seasons and weather conditions that fuel chinch bug activity.
Southern chinch bugs prefer hot, dry environments, especially in sunny areas. Dehydrated lawns experiencing drought stress are highly susceptible to chinch bug damage. Dry weather reduces the occurrence of diseases and, therefore, increases the survival rates of chinch bug eggs and nymphs.
These insects are most active during the dry heat of summer and early fall. In Texas, chinch bugs are inactive during the winter, and reproduction begins again when temperatures warm in the spring.
Treatment for Chinch Bug Brown Patches
Begin using proper irrigation practices.
Correct irrigation is crucial to chinch bug population control. Watering properly can be slightly challenging when it comes to chinch bugs. Both too little and too much water can cause chinch bug problems.
Southern chinch bugs thrive in hot, dry environments. Therefore, supplementing your yard with too little water dries out your grass and can attract southern chinch bug activity. Dehydrating your grass will also make your turf weaker and much more vulnerable to the severe damage of insect feeding. Keep an eye on your St. Augustine grass during the summer for signs of drought stress.
Alternatively, applying too much water to your yard can result in overly saturated soil. This creates issues with oxygen deficiencies, shallow root systems, and can lead to a build-up of thatch. All of these problems make St. Augustine grass more prone to chinch bug invasions and brown patches.
To avoid creating further chinch bug issues, read our guide to proper watering in North Texas.
Dethatch your yard.
Thatch is the layer of organic debris that builds up, laces between grass blades, and lays atop the soil. Thatch can be a major issue in your yard if it grows too thick. In the case of chinch bugs, thatch provides the perfect protective habitat.
To control and reduce a chinch bug population infesting your property, dethatching is an excellent treatment measure. This will not only eliminate their comfy home on your lawn but also help to make other control measures more effective.
Aeration is the best option for dethatching, and as a bonus, it will also significantly improve the overall health of your turf and soil. Other options include raking the thatch and using specialized tools such as a vertical mower.
Talk with a local lawn care company like Gecko Green to learn the best dethatching option for your unique property.
Have your lawn treated with pesticides.
Insecticides have proven to be very successful against chinch bugs. If you have visible chinch bug damage in your yard, we highly recommended that you have your lawn treated with pesticides without delay. To create noticeable brown patches, the chinch bug population has to be significant. The sooner you act, the less grass death and damage they can cause. When used correctly, pesticides can rapidly reduce southern chinch bug population numbers.
If you choose to treat your yard with pesticides on your own, always read the label carefully for instructions on safety and proper application. There is a wide variety of effective liquid, granular, and spot treatment insecticides
available to control chinch bugs.
Proper use of pesticides is crucial for safety and environmental health. It’s also important to note that improper applications can actually exacerbate the chinch bug problem. Chinch bug populations are attacked and kept in control by many predatory species of insects. Incorrect insecticide applications can reduce populations of beneficial organisms and lead to more chinch bugs.
To be safe, protect the environment, and preserve beneficial insects, hire a local professional pest control company to treat your yard.
How Gecko Green can eliminate your chinch bug problem.
When it comes to pests like chinch bugs, the right treatment must be applied at the right time. Gecko Green has the knowledge and experience necessary to ensure your lawn is getting the treatment it needs at just the right time. To ensure your lawn stays healthy, our highly trained staff will implement a chinch bug control treatment plan to protect your property today.
Chinch Bug Prevention
Follow proper watering and lawn care practices to maintain a strong, healthy lawn.
Although keeping a healthy lawn may seem like an obvious tip, proper lawn care is particularly important for controlling chinch bugs. Chinch bugs are not usually an issue for well-kept yards. Maintaining good fertilizing, aeration, and mowing habits is a great way to keep a healthy yard and help keep chinch bugs at bay.
Consistent moisture is a crucial preventative measure. Southern chinch bugs prefer to inhabit weakened, drought-stressed lawns, so maintaining proper irrigation through the hot, dry summer months is vital.
Aerate biannually to reduce thatch build-up.
Keeping thatch to a minimum is an essential preventative measure because thatch provides a protective home for chinch bugs. Lawn aeration helps reduce thick layers of thatch and keeps turf and soil healthier to fight off pest invasions. Optimally, you should aerate your DFW lawn twice a year. Follow this link to learn more about aeration.
Proper mowing and fertilizing practices can also help reduce thatch build-up. Over-application of fertilizer contributes to thatch formation and makes lawns more attractive as a food source for chinch bugs. Check out our blog to learn more about correct fertilizing.
Check your lawn for brown patches in summer.
The number one rule for chinch bug control is early detection and treatment. The longer chinch bugs can feed on lawns, the more severe the damage will be and the harder they are to eliminate. Many chinch bug pesticide treatments must be applied early on, so early detection is also necessary for treatment success.
During hot, dry weather periods, check around your lawn for damaged or brown spots once every week or so. Inspecting your yard weekly is particularly important in areas that are prone to or have a history of chinch bug invasions. If regular inspections of your grass are something you’re unable or unwilling to do, hire a lawn care or pest control company to keep an eye out for you.
Get regularly scheduled services from a pest control company like Gecko Green.
Having a regularly scheduled lawn care and pest control routine is the best line of defense against any pest invading your property. Between Gecko Green’s Preventative Pest Control Program and our top-rated lawn care services, your yard is guaranteed to be protected from pest damage.
Gecko Green offers lawn care that will take the preventative measures necessary to ensure your lawn remains green, healthy, and beautiful in every season! To avoid chinch bug brown patches in DFW, have Gecko Green keep watch over your yard this summer and every season.
Chinch Bug Brown Patch FAQ’s
1. Is my grass dead?
Most likely, yes. Chinch bugs suck the natural internal juices out of grass blades which causes them to dehydrate, wither, and die. The brown grass within the patches has been sucked dry and is most likely dead. The yellow halo around the brown patch is grass that is currently being fed on and dying. Seek pesticide treatment as soon as you notice any chinch bug damage.
2. Will my grass grow back after a chinch bug infestation?
Not without help. Unfortunately, chinch bug damage in St. Augustine grass is typically quite severe. Your first concern should be ridding your yard of the chinch bug infestation. Once the chinch bugs are gone, you will need to reseed the damaged areas or add new sod.
3. Should I avoid activity on the damaged areas of my lawn?
Yes. Try to avoid the areas of your lawn damaged by chinch bugs. These areas are particularly vulnerable to traffic, and any activity can worsen the damage to the turf and soil.
4. Do any pests other than the southern chinch bug cause brown patches in lawns?
Yes. Grubs, caterpillars, moths, armyworms, Bermuda mites, and other species of chinch bugs like the common chinch bug (blissus leucopterus) have all been known to brown and damage grass. However, each species of pest usually affects grass in different ways and therefore leaves unique damage patterns.
5. Are natural treatments like diatomaceous earth or dish soap effective at removing chinch bugs?
We do not recommend the use of diatomaceous earth or dish soap. Diatomaceous earth can kill beneficial insects and can also take weeks or months to potentially be effective. Using dish soap will also kill helpful insects and harm some trees, flowers, and plants.
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