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Weeds commonly found in lawns in the Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana region
Black Medic is normally a summer annual, but can act as a perennial in some conditions. It has a taproot, spreads low to the ground and is more active on soils low in nitrogen fertility.
Ground ivy, also known as Creeping Charlie, is hard to control and spreads quickly because you can’t pull it out easily in lawns.
Dandelions are the most common Broad leaf weed. These are best treated during an active growing cycle. Dandelions have long taproots, which readily regenerate new plants when cut or damaged.
Nutsedge is a weed that closely resembles grass and is often mistaken for a wild grass. It appears in early summer and quickly takes on a pale green appearance. It is easily recognized because it grows faster than the surrounding turf.
Plantain weeds are very noticeable once they establish themselves within a lawn. They produce rosettes of leathery and prominently-ribbed leaves, that stand out amongst normal turfgrass. Plantains tend to flower May – September making the weed a nuisance throughout the entire summer.
Thistle is a pesky weed comes in several different varieties. Most are biennials (meaning the weed cycle will last for two years). The root is a fleshly taproot the first year and a fibrous root system forms the second year, continuing the weed cycle.
Violets are a winter perennial, growing 2 – 5 inches tall. They can have a taproot or a fibrous root system, making them one of the hardest weeds to control. The leaves can vary but usually are heart shaped with different colored flowers that emerge from March to June. Early control is the best way to manage this weed, but even then several applications of a herbicide are necessary to accomplish complete control.
A broad leaf perennial that has white flowers from spring to fall. It is a more difficult weed to control because it takes several applications of weed control to effectively remove it without damaging the surrounding turfgrass.
Weedy grasses commonly found in lawns in the Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana region
Barnyard Grass is an annual grass (meaning it has a one year life cycle), which is primarily grown as a cereal or fodder crop. It is a broadleaf grass that often resembles crabgrass. In recent years it has found its way into many lawns throughout our region.
Crabgrass is a warm season annual grass which grows best in the heat of midsummer when desirable lawn grasses are often semi-dormant and offer little or no competition.
Quackgrass is an undesirable, cool season, perennial grass that reproduces by seed or underground rhizomes and can reach 3 1/2′ high. It can appear in new as well as older established lawns.
Tall Fescue is another undesirable grass that can infiltrate a bluegrass lawn and cause unsightly clusters of turfgrass. Tall fescue is a cool-season grass that is well adapted to sunny or partially shady areas.
Lawn diseases commonly found in lawns in the Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana region
Dollar Spot Disease name comes from the silver-dollar sized straw-colored spots this disease causes on putting greens. On longer grass, the shapes are more irregular. When dew is on the grass, look for white cob-webby fungus.
Fairy Ring is caused by a number of species of mushroom-forming fungi. Visible signs of fairy ring disease are circular or semi-circular rings, usually darker in color than that of the surrounding turfgrass, which form in the turf and may or may not produce mushrooms within those rings. These rings can range in size from a few inches up to many feet in diameter.
Leaf spots are most destructive during cold, wet, overcast weather in spring and fall. Look for gradual browning and thinning of grass. Small, dark-brown, purplish, or purplish-red colored spots appear on the leaves from the early spring to late fall.
Necrotic ring spot frequently occurs on two to five-year-old sodded lawns and is especially prevalent in vigorously growing lawns. These lawns often develop a thick thatch layer, which stimulates fungal growth.
Pythium Blight appears as small, usually irregularly-shaped spots 2 to 10 inches in diameter. The grass blades have a water-soaked appearance, and the diseased areas feel and look greasy or slimy. Upon drying, these killed areas of turf turn light brown or a straw-colored hue and may have a slight reddish tinge.
Rust Disease favors warm and humid conditions and develop most frequently on grasses subject to drought-stress conditions, low nitrogen fertility and shade. Low mowing heights, particularly on Kentucky bluegrass, also increase the susceptibility of grasses to rust.
Lawn insects commonly found in lawns in the Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana region
Billbugs are a particular problem of Kentucky bluegrass lawns. Members of the weevil family, the adults have long snouts that end in a set of mandibles. Adult billbugs are 1/4 to 1/2 inch long and brown or gray. The larvae do the most damage to the stems of grass plants, however adults will also cause some stem and leaf blade damage.
Chinch Bugs are not as common as some other turf-feeding insects such as grubs or sod webworms, but left unidentified and untreated they can devastate a lawn very quickly. The pests are so small and inconspicuous that they can destroy a lawn right beneath your eyes without being noticed.
Grubs are perhaps the most hated pest insect in the country. “Grub” is a catch-all term for the larval, or worm, stage of many kinds of beetles. May beetles (also called June bugs), Japanese beetles, masked chafers, billbugs, etc are all grubs in the soil prior to emerging as beetles during the growing season.
Sod Webworms are one of the regions “silent killers”, as their damage often goes unaccredited to them. Most of their damage is blamed on drought stress or on grubs, but in reality these tiny little caterpillars are quietly feeding on the lawn.
Miscellaneous problems commonly found in lawns in the Chicagoland & Northwest Indiana region
Drought Stress is a condition that usually occurs during the summer months when periods of high heat and reduced water-fall take their toll on turfgrass.
Mole Damage is becoming a more prevalent problem in our area today. Moles are carnivores and prefer mostly insects, grubs, centipedes, spiders, and earthworms they find in the soil. Signs of mole activity shows itself as a discharged mounded soil trail through a lawn, which is caused as the moles push soil out of a hole while looking for food or a mate.
Mower Scorch is a condition that occurs when heat and drought conditions are present on a lawn that is ridden on by heavy equipment. Once the turf receives moisture, areas that were not traversed by the machines will green up quickly while those that were ridden over do not.
Mushrooms sometimes called toadstools, are the reproductive (fruiting) structures of some kinds of fungi. Most fungi in lawns are beneficial because they decompose organic matter, thereby releasing nutrients that are then available for plant growth. Mushrooms found in lawns often develop from buried scraps of construction lumber, dead tree roots, or other organic matter.
Vole Damage is often mistaken for mole damage. A key difference in the two is that where mole damage is the pushing up of dirt into mounds along the surface, vole damage is primarily found in the thatch layer and does not involve the dirt but rather the thatch.