We’re quite fortunate in North Queensland; there are not a large amount of pests or diseases that affect our lawns.
The most prevalent issue is lawn army worm. The symptoms are dying patches of lawn, red wasps with long stingers hovering over the lawn, Ibis and Plovers pecking at the lawn, and/or a build-up of yellow cocoons under the eaves of your home. To know for sure you can lay a wet hessian bag on the grass overnight – when you remove the bag early the next morning any army worms should be visible. Or you can simply flood a small section of the lawn and any grubs should float to the surface.
Lawn army worms are especially problematic with new turf as they love new shoots. They can be an ongoing issue so it is often best to apply an insecticide. Spray in the early evening where possible, lightly water to wash it in but always follow the manufacturer’s application instructions.
Some also suggest an application of urea fertiliser as a way to rid your lawn of army worms but realise if you take this course of action you will need to mow your lawn twice a week for the next three weeks so ensure you have the time available.
Another issue for North Queensland lawns is Spring Dead Spot. It appears in autumn as small spots in the lawn – about the size of 50 cent pieces. By early summer the spots may join together, looking like lattice work. It typically goes away by mid-late summer and while chemical controls are available they are not terrible effective. Usually a good feed of an organic fertiliser and the lawn will recover quite quickly.
Luckily fungal disease is rare and not very severe in North Queensland. Any fugal disease up here usually doesn’t warrant treatment and a good trim of overhanging trees, shrubs and branches will assist with letting some additional beneficial sunlight to reach the lawn.
As with many things – prevention is better than cure. Apply a slow release fertiliser on a regular basis to encourage steady growth and don’t water at during the evening or at night to prevent the build-up or humidity and moisture at the plant base. Long and thick lawns can also suffer from disease so plan to mow frequently, especially during the warmer months.