Nematodes are microscopic worm-like organisms that live in the soil and attack the roots. They are occasionally a problem in home lawns because they feed on turfgrass roots and cause a slow decline of the turf.
If you have a lot nematodes, they can cause a thinning out, stunting, and pale color of the grass, usually in patches. There are no absolute above-ground symptoms to confirm the presence of nematodes. The only way to determine if nematodes are a problem is to have a soil sample assayed by the Mississippi State University Extension Service’s Nematode Assay Laboratory. You may get a Nematode Soil Sample Bag (Extension Form 591), Nematode Soil Sample Form (Extension Form 488), and instructions from your county Extension agent.
Control: Controlling nematodes in home lawns is different from nematode control in most other plants. There are no resistant varieties, you cannot use biological control, and there are no chemicals (nematicides) you can use in established home lawns because of the extreme toxicity of nematicides. You should use good cultural practices to keep damage to a minimum. This includes mowing, watering, insect and disease control, and proper fertility.
When bringing soil in to form a new lawn, first have it tested for nematodes. Follow fertilizer and lime recommendations, and water to avoid drought stress.
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