When it comes to landscaping, little is more impressive than a perfectly manicured lawn. When you look out on your lawn, you should have your breath taken by the deep green color, soft texture, and smooth cut. A beautiful lawn is next to godliness – which is why a lawn is among the most important features for homes on the market.
Whether you are selling your home or buying a new one, you want whatever grass you see to be the picture of health. Unfortunately, grass can be surprisingly delicate; any imbalance in nutrients, water, or ecosystem can cause it to develop unsightly or strange patches. Sometimes, lawn issues are easy and quick to fix – and sometimes they require extensive work and extreme expense. If you notice something off about a home’s lawn, here’s how to tell whether it is still worth the investment:
Small Dead Spots Surrounded by Lush Grass
If you see just a small, roundish, yellow spot in a sea of healthy, green grass, you can be certain of one thing: Someone around there owns a dog. Canines tend to have diets high in protein, which turns into nitrogen when it is expelled from the body. Generally, nitrogen is good for grass – it’s one of the main ingredients in lawn fertilizer. However, there is such a thing as to much. If a dog has a habit of peeing in the same spot on the lawn every day, you can be certain that spot is going to burn up from the excess nitrogen.
Fortunately, over time, the soil will diffuse that nitrogen, and grass should once again grow. You can prevent such spots – and help your lawn recover faster – by feeding your pup higher-quality food, providing more access to water, walking your dog when it needs to pee, avoiding other fertilizing products, or replacing delicate bluegrass with more formidable rye or fescue.
Alternating Stripes of Yellow and Green
Stripes aren’t in style anywhere, but especially not on lawns. When healthy green and dry yellow alternate, it’s a sign that the lawn’s owners (or their lawn care team) aren’t properly fertilizing. When using a drop spreader, it’s possible to misalign the tracks and avoid giving food to long strips of grass – or worse, give double-doses of fertilizer that have the same effect as dog urine.
Whenever you fertilize, you should overlap your wheel tracks to avoid making this simple and ruinous mistake. If a lawn already has those unfortunate stripes, you can try to rinse away any extra fertilizer. However, a safer option is learning when to overseed your lawn, so you can reinvigorate those dead patches without potentially depriving the rest of the grass of much-needed food.
Irregular-Shaped Yellow and Brown Spots
Humans love grass; it makes sense that other animals love it, too. Unfortunately, few critters love healthy grass more than chinch bugs, who feed on the sap in blades of grass and create devastation in every lawn they visit.
Unfortunately, chinch bug damage is often difficult for the average person to differentiate from drought damage. In both cases, you typically see irregular dry spots that slowly fade to yellow and brown. If you have a St. Augustine lawn, you are most likely facing chinch bugs – and you can be certain by conducting various tests. It is possible to treat your yard with chemical pesticides to kill the chinch bugs, but if you are searching for a new home, you might be better off searching somewhere without St. Augustine grass.
Persistent Dry Patches or Regions
If you look closely at the average lawn, you can find at least one area that grows more sparsely than the rest. Typically, this occurs around the edges of the lawn, where visitors might skip the walkway and tramp on the grass or where the sprinklers just can’t reach. Poor watering combined with compaction makes the soil too dry and hard for grass roots to spread, resulting in stubborn dead spots. First, you should check for chinch bugs; if they aren’t present, you can sigh with relief and consider the following solutions.
First, you should take a look at the sprinkler system. If it seems to be in general working order, you might only need to adjust the individual heads to better target the dried-out patches. Additionally, you should spend one day every year aerating your lawn, paying particular attention to regions that see excessive foot traffic. However, if the sprinkler system seems old or in serious disrepair, it might be worthwhile to consider buying a different home.