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Lawn brown spots cured with... tomato juice?

In one of my recent columns, I included a question from a reader who was having problems with brown spots on his lawn, apparently caused by urine from his pet dogs. In response, I received an e-mail from reader Linda Biggs who wrote:

"A few years ago the 'Rebecca's Garden' television program suggested adding two to three tablespoons of tomato juice to your dog's food at every meal to avoid spotted lawns. The acid in the tomato juice counteracts the dog's urine, resulting in no grass discoloration. I can testify the tomato juice additive works on a Lab and German Shepard, and they like the flavor. The Campbell's brand of tomato juice features a low sodium version."

Thanks for the tip, Linda. Maybe that will help. However, I have to say that I have personally tried different treatments for the "doggy lawn" problem but none seem to work!

 QUESTION: "For the past three years, I have had a terrible problem with leaf spot, dollar spot etc and in the spring red thread. I have not been able to control it and it has gotten worse every year. I had a lawn service one year and have treated it myself the last two seasons. My lawn is the typical Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue. It looks great in the early spring and then the fungus begins around the first of May. This year is even worse and now my lawn has even thinned out in many areas The fungus appears worse in full sun areas. I have been putting down the Scotts Fungus Control since May and it seems to do nothing. It's so bad, that in the early morning, the white cottony 'tuffs' are very noticeable on the grass. I have had two lawn care companies come out and they both mentioned the leaf spot and dollar spot, but were only interested in selling me the annual programs and fertilizer treatments. Is there a short term solution/control for the fungus I have right now and what do you suggest as a long term solution to eliminate the problem every year?" – Kim Woodruff

ANSWER: It sounds as if you have a beautiful lawn. I really think your best bet would be to go with a reputable long term lawn care business. However, I would make some stipulations as to what you expect form them. I have had a lawn like the one you are describing at one of our properties some years ago. I had grass that was all fescue from a seed called champion 6. It was at that time a blend of 6 of the award winning fescues for that year. I never had any problem with just regular maintenance. Unless you want to redo your yard I would go with professionals.

QUESTION: "We have about 300 live oak trees on our property, and almost all are covered with what I term "boles" on the leaves. Not just a few; but literally many hundreds. Do these "critters" harm the trees? Is there a cure? If so, what should we do to eradicate them?" – Len & Janice Westra

ANSWER: Any insect or beetle that is foreign to the tree will harm it. You may try some of the insecticides like Sevin or Malathion. However, before you do anything, I suggest you try checking with the agricultural extension agent in your area. If it a problem you are having then it is quite likely that someone else in your area is having it too, and the extension agent could have a solution to the problem. From your description and the picture you sent me, your "critters" could well be spider mites, but your extension agent will know for sure. I did find a useful web site you might want to check out. It's called "All About Oak Trees". The web address is and you click on a direct link when you go to my web site and find this column under the Plant Man heading. The Oak Tree site has descriptions and pictures of various insects and diseases that affect oaks.