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How to Prevent Lawn Pests and Diseases

Lawns and gardens are vulnerable to a number of different pests and diseases. Problems like insufficient air flow, poor drainage, incorrect soil pH, inappropriate nutrient balance, and extreme weather conditions. When it comes to lawn pests and disease, as with many things, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Read on to find the best ways to prevent common problems in your yard or garden.

Slime Mold

While not actively harmful to plants, slime mold is an unsightly problem that often pops up in the late summer and fall seasons. Once the mold takes up residence, there is no easy solution for removing it. So, the best option is to prevent the formation of mold by frequent lawn aeration to discourage the growth of mold and other fungi.

Red Thread

Red thread is one of the most common, if not the single most common lawn afflictions out there. It is a nitrogen deficiency in the soil that causes patches of grass to go red, then turn brown or black and die off. Feeding your lawn with ammonium sulfate can help remedy and ward off the ominous red thread. It is usually worse after particularly wet summers, so a bit of extra lawn aeration at those times would help as well.


Usually a problem you expect to deal with more on your car than on your lawn, rust can actually pose a very real threat to plants. In your yard, rust may create patches of yellow grass which, upon closer inspection, exhibit rusty orange spots on the blades. There is no form of chemical control for rust once it gets started in your garden, but frequent mowing and thorough removal of the clippings can keep it from spreading.

Snow Mold

Named such because it usually occurs after a snowfall, this is a fungal disease that manifests as brown or yellow patches in the yard with a layer of white or pink mold that looks a bit like a cobweb. Once this fungi gets established, it can spread incredibly rapidly, so take care not to let it take root with scarification and avoiding nitrogen rich fertilizers in the Fall season.

Ant Hills

Ant hills can be an unsightly and unwelcome addition to your lawn space. If you just can’t tolerate them, consider applying a biological control agent to the area like Steinernema feltiae, which is available online. The usual ant control powders are meant for use indoors and will not be effective on ant hills which can extend deep into the soil.


The most common grubs that become lawn pests are the larvae of the chafer beetle. These are problematic both because they feed on grass roots and because they attract other animals like badgers and birds who want to eat them and tear up the lawn in order to get to them! A common biological control option is watering in nematodes.