With the summer rains we experience here in KwaZulu-Natal, most of our lawns tend to appear in good condition during this time of the year. This is especially true if you have been feeding your lawn with a granular fertiliser – in which case, your lawn should be lovely and lush.
Then all of a sudden, from nowhere, patches can appear in your lawn. These patches tend to stand out against the green grass. The cause of these patches often confuse gardeners, who wonder if the problem lies in either lawn caterpillars or lawn fungus. Either problem relies on different solutions, so it’s important that you know a little more about the problem.
Lawn caterpillars tend to appear in the warmer summer months and can be active right up until before winter. They are a relatively small green/brown worm, not much larger than 6cm. They are not visible to the naked eye for the very reason is that they tend to hide in the grass just below the surface. They are dormant during the hot days and come out only at night to eat your lawn. They can literally destroy huge patches in your lawn.
So how do you identify if your patchy lawn problem is a result of lawn caterpillar or a fungus? Our recommendation is to wet an old towel and place it on the patchy area. The next morning, lift the towel from the infected area and if there are NO lawn caterpillars attached to the towel, then you have a fungus problem. To solve this, you will need to spray your lawn with a fungicide. In most cases, the patches you see will be either Brown patch, Dollar Spot or Blight. We recommend a fungicide like Grovida Supremo or Odeon. It is advisable to spray your entire lawn to prevent the fungus from spreading. In most cases with a fungus problem, a repeat application is necessary within 7 to 14 days for it to disappear completely.
If worms appear on the towel, then you have lawn caterpillars, in which case you would need to spray them with an insecticide like Grovida Kemprin at 5ml to 5 litres of water. Again, we recommend that you spray your entire lawn and not just the effected area, as they will simply move to other areas of the lawn.
Here’s to NO patches in your lawn.