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When it comes to your backyard turf, you shouldn’t need a PHD in growing grass to have a brilliant looking patch.

Even the most careful amateur gardeners will come across issues though. Here are 8 common lawn problems and their solutions.

Problem: Grass isn’t growing under a tree

Solution: While most grasses will prefer a good amount of sun, there are some that are just as happy in almost full shade. Fescues are a great example of this, so whether it be just as a filler in your grassless patch, or as the choice for your entire lawn, a fine fescue in cooler climates and a tall fescue in warmer climates may solve the problem.

Problem: Grass isn’t growing on a slope

Solution: Often the issue with a slope is that is struggles to retain water, as the moisture runs off before it has the chance to soak in. The solution could lay in something as simple as paying particular attention to thoroughly soaking the slope, but if that doesn’t work, try laying sod (to help with moisture retention) or seed the patch with special “hydroseed” varieties that come with a special coating to stop them drying out.

Problem: Lawn is plagued by weeds

Solution: If you’ve got a fairly severe weed problem on your hands, a selective herbicide in both Autumn and Spring is your first port of call. Applying in both seasons will ensure that you stamp out perennial weeds that develop at both of those times of year. If you don’t see great improvement after 12 months, it may be a matter of killing your lawn with a non-selective herbicide and starting afresh.

Problem: There are bare patches in your lawn

Solution: In Spring or Autumn (depending on the seed), mark out the area, then till the soil with a rake before spreading seed onto it. Cordon off the patch to keep out traffic, and keep the area well watered while the new seeds establish. If your lawn is bare due to high traffic, consider incorporating it in a path of patio area.

Problem: Lawn has brown spots or cobweb-like growths

Solution: Seeing brown spots (up to a foot in diameter) or cobweb-like threads in your lawn can be signs of an unwanted fungus in your turf. The key here is to fertilise the patches, give them as much sunlight as you can, try to keep them from being waterlogged, and finally, apply fungicide.

Problem: Lawn has darker green circles that die off

Solution: If you’re noticing circular patches of your lawn are becoming darker green before browning off, your turf most likely has the infection “fairy rings”, also sometimes indicated by mushroom growth. While there isn’t a specific treatment available for this, aerating, fertilising and then keeping the lawn wet for 3-5 days should do the trick.

Problem: A plague of mushrooms

Solution: Unfortunately, there isn’t really a direct one – mushrooms are nearly impossible to entirely eliminate. While pulling them out will deal with the problem temporarily, the only real way to stop their growth is to ensure your turf is generally thick and healthy. Things like drainage issues and built-up decaying organic matter are heaven for mushrooms, so keep these to a minimum.

Problem: Swampy patches in your turf

Solution: Do you have a natural collection point for run-off water in your garden? Turn the negative into a positive! While you will struggle to get grass healthy in a waterlogged patch of soil, try converting it into a centrepiece by using the area to plant water-tolerant statement plants. A water loving flower bed will not only look great, but also help improve the health of the rest of your garden by dealing with the excess moisture.

If any of these techniques fail, you could have a larger soil quality issue on your hands. In that case, take a soil sample to your local outdoor store for testing.

Anyone with the most basic knowledge will soon get a grasp on how to grow grass, but maintaining it can often be a different story. By keeping on top of issues before they get out of hand, however, you will have a backyard that sparkles all year round.