Managing your lawn

The grass doesn't have to be greener on the other side!

Tips for a Healthy Lawn

  • Use a mix of grass seed in your lawn:
    • for an irrigated lawn: Kentucky Bluegrass + Red Fescue + Perennial Ryegrass
    • for a dryland lawn: Canada Bluegrass + Red Fescue + Kentucky Bluegrass (small amount) + Sheep's Fescue + Hard Fescue + Perennial Ryegrass + Annual Ryegrass

Your lawn will be hardier and more resistant to disease and pests if you use a variety of grass types in your lawn.

  • Never cut more than 30% of the height of the lawn at one mowing time.  Infrequent, short mowing weakens lawns which can lead to disease and insect problems.
  • A lawn that is seeded with a variety of turfgrass species, is watered regularly, mowed regularly, fertized at least 3 times/year and is aerated once per year is the best defense against weed invasion and disease problems.
  • Water your lawn deeply and less frequently.  An irrigated lawn requires at least 2.5cm (1") of water per week


  • Turf becomes week and less vigourous if the mowing height is lower than recommended for that given species and eventually will die if short mowing continues.
  • Turf that is mowed too low is in a constant state of stress and will be more susceptible to disease problems and seed invasion.  Never movw off more than 30% of the grass blade.

Turfgrass Nutrition

  • Fertilizer recommendations for Prairie Turfgrass (medium to high maintenance)
    • Fertilize only well-established turf that has been mowed at least 5 times
    • May 15: apply 2kg of 27-14-0 or 26-13-0 fertilizer per 100 m²
    • July 1: apply 2kg of 34-0-0 fertilizer per 100m²
    • August 15: apply 2kg of 34-0-0 per 100m²

Troubled Lawns

Compaction, The most obvious sign of compaction of the lawn is bare ground especiall along heavy "traffic" routes (pedestrian, animal or vehicle)

  • Solving compaction problems
    • preventative: prevent traffic from building up in any one spot.  (lay sidewalks along natural traffic routes or plant shrubs/perennials to divert pedestrian traffc off the lawn)
    • remedial: consistent maintenance practiced are important:
      • aeration (with core disperal or cor removal and top dressing)
      • slicing
      • rotavating

Turf Diseases

Gray Snow Mold: A very common fungal disease that grows in high moisture and very cold temperature (near 0°C).  Often found at the edge of melting snow banks.


  • Irregular patches of grayish-white mycelium on the foliage that may be slower to "green up" in the spring
  • Usually found under snow cover in the spring


  • Harden off turf in the fall: reduce water and fertility.
  • Mow to normal height in autumn, rake leaves, and don't allow overly deep thatch layer.
  • Remove snow from susceptible areas (ie. low spots) while the ground is still frozen in spring.
  • Some fungicides are available for commercial operations.
  • Snow mold seldom kills lawns.

Powdery Mildew:  A fungal disease that overwinters in living plant tissue.  The fungus prefers cool temperature, with high relative humidity.  It will be most prevalent in shady situations (north sides of buildings) or on new succulent growth.


  • appears as gray-white powdery growth on the blades of grass
  • advanced stages of powdery mildew will turn foliage yellowish orange


  • use shade tolerant grass species and kentucky Bluegrass species that are more resistant to powdery mildew
  • reduce water and nitrogen fertility
  • improve light and air circulation in the lawn
  • raise cutting height of the lawnmower

Fairy Ring:

  • Partial or full circles of dark green grass in your lawn
  • Advanced stages show a tan colored dead area in the center of the ring
  • Tan colored mushrooms are often present in the lush green grass.  The fungus is breaking down the dead organic matter, releasing nutrients

The disease develops under dry soil conditions and or in heavy thatch layers.


  • Reduce thatch layer
  • Maintain good soil moisture
  • “Spike and soak”: aerate deeply, fertilize and water heavily
  • There are not registered fungicides for fairy ring control

Insects on Turf

Sod Webworm

  • Feed on turgrass stems and sheaths at or below the soil surface
  • Symptoms include irregular brown patches of dead tur in late July and early August, or thinning turf
  • Two year life cycle: in the second year, they pupate into a pale brown moth and lay eggs on the lawn.  These moths fly up for the lawn as you walk on it.


  • Reduce thatch layer to an acceptable level

White Grubs

  • Eat the roots and crown of the turf
  • Symptoms include mottled browning of the turf in patches


  • Keep turf healthy and in vigorous growing condition

Earthworms and Night Crawlers

  • Do not damage the plant tissues or roots
  • Provide aeration in the lawn
  • Only become a problem when their castings create a “bumpy” turf
  • Can be a serious and cosmetic problem in golf greens and lawn bowling