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A well-tended lawn in a back yard.

Lawn Problem Solving

Our Garden Department head, Dana Hixenbaugh, has put together a handy guide for clearing up issues you may have with your lawn. Stop by Pini if you have questions! We have everything you need for happy, healthy grass all year round.



Annual weeds, such as crabgrass, annual bluegrass, dandelions, and California burclover

  • Hand pull the weeds, and apply Preen® every 3 months; or
  • apply Ortho® Weed B Gon® or Roundup® for Lawns, then treat with Preen every 3 months; or
  • use a weed and feed product; or
  • apply Ortho Weed B Gon Plus Crabgrass Control once, and use Preen every 3 months. Treat again with Crabgrass Control, if needed, as per package directions.

Perennial weeds, such as Bermuda grass and oxalis

  • For Bermuda grass: treat lawn with Bayer® Bermudagrass Control for Lawns every month for 9 months and use Preen every 3 months. Use a catch bag behind your mower, and wash the mower’s undercarriage after every mowing to prevent the spread of Bermuda grass.
  • For oxalis, chickweed, and Creeping Charlie: treat lawn with Ortho Weed B Gon Chickweed, Clover & Oxalis Killer for Lawns. Reapply in 2 to 3 weeks if needed, up to 5.1 ounces per 100 square feet per year total.



  • Apply Bonide MossMax®, which is safe to use on lawns and in garden areas.
  • Do not use Lilly Miller Moss Out!® for Roofs & Walks, as this formula will kill plants and lawn!



Mushrooms and toadstools
These are a sign of healthy soil and good organic content, but can be unsightly.

  • There may be a piece of wood under the soil.
  • Apply synthetic fertilizer at a rate of 1 pound (.45 kg) of actual nitrogen per 1,000 square feet (93 square meters) of lawn. The nitrogen should be readily available, not slow-release or water-insoluble formulations. Examples include 5 pounds (2.27 kg) of ammonium sulfate (21-0-0), or special lawn fertilizers such as 6 pounds (2.72 kg) of 16-6-8, or 4 pounds (1.8 kg) of 27-3-4 per 1,000 square feet (93 square meters) of lawn.

Fungal diseases, such as dollar spot and rust

  • Examine your watering practices: 5 minutes a day, between 5 a.m. and 9 a.m., is enough.
  • Apply Scotts® Fungus Control for Lawns (granular) or Bayer Fungus Control for Lawns (hose end sprayer).



Grubs, which feed on the roots of the grass and create brown spots in your lawn

  • Use an insecticide such as Spectracide® Triazicide® or Scotts GrubEx® three times a year, or as recommended on the product label. These products may control other pests, such as ants and fleas, as well. Getting rid of grubs will also prevent moles, skunks, and raccoons from digging up your lawn.

Sod webworms, aka lawn moths, which feed at night on the grass blades

  • Use Bonide® Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew® or Bt spray to kill caterpillars.


A lush garden at the front of a house, with a beautiful lawn, fruit trees, and flower beds.


Sparse lawn

  • Get rid of weeds.
  • Use Revive® and organic lawn fertilizer (results in 5 weeks!).

Dog spots

  • Use Revive or Earth’s Balance® Dogonit®.

Damage from skunks, raccoons, or moles
These animals are eating grubs under the lawn.

  • Start by eliminating grubs (see Bugs section, above). Then, try to patch with existing soil and turf, and use Revive and organic lawn fertilizer to reattach turf.
  • If it’s a mole, then also apply Bonide MoleMAX® or Sweeney’s® Mole & Gopher Repellant, starting in a 3 or 4 foot circle, and extending the area in 3 foot bands every other day until the moles are worked out of your yard. Keep up the property perimeter with product.
  • The problem will not resolve overnight; it may take up to 2 weeks.


  • Could actually be a mole! Gophers don’t eat grass, but may go after dandelions in your lawn.
  • Kill the gopher with a trap. Gopherhawk® gopher traps do not require digging up your lawn to get to the main tunnel.
  • If too many roots or an irrigation pipe are in the way, throw 5 or 6 mothballs in the main tunnel to drive out the gopher. Place a rock or brick over the hole to prevent the gopher from tossing the mothballs back out.
  • Fill holes.
  • Kill weeds, and use Revive and an organic lawn fertilizer.


  • First, analyze lawn area for reparability. Then, repair lawn as above for sparse lawn, or re-seed/re-sod.



Fertilizer burn, from over-application of synthetic fertilizer

  • Leach out with heavy watering, then apply Revive.

pH imbalance
A soil test should be taken every year for 3–5 years to get a good idea of any swings in your soil’s composition. After that, once every 3 years should be sufficient. The ideal soil pH for lawns is 6.5–7.

  • If your soil’s pH is above 7, correct with EB Stone Soil Sulfur. For every .5 pH change, apply .75 to .8 pounds Soil Sulfur per 100 square feet in clay soils.
  • If your soil’s pH is below 6.5, correct with lime. For every .5 pH change, apply 4 to 4.5 pounds hydrated lime per 100 square feet in clay soils.

Mineral deficiency

  • Apply AZOMITE® or an iron supplement such as Ironite® or GreenAll® F.S.T. Then, apply an organic lawn fertilizer if you have not been feeding your lawn properly (i.e. every 2 to 3 months with synthetic—or every 4 to 6 months with organic—fertilizer).


Lawn stripes

  • This is commonly caused by an uneven application of fertilizer.


Lawn looking dry even though watering regularly

Irrigation system issues

  • Clean sprinkler heads and remove any overgrowth by turf.
  • Repair or replace any broken lines or heads.
  • Check irrigation timer station to be sure time is set correctly and functioning.
  • Check valves for proper function, and repair or replace as needed.

Water isn’t penetrating the soil.

  • Aerate your lawn.
  • Switch to organic lawn fertilizers.
  • Apply Revive and Scotts EveryDrop.
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