There is little doubt in my mind why lawns are so important to people.  Historically, lawns have been a sign of wealth and prosperity.  They were mowed by grazing animals, often sheep, and the number you could graze on your lawn showed the neighbors how rich you were. 

Nowadays Homeowners Associations frown upon livestock browsing lawns, worrying that the animals might take out a prize rosebush or add an unsavory odor to the neighborhood.  They want lawns to look good and when lawns have problems, many are left scratching their head and wondering what is wrong and how to fix it.

Homeowners patrol the yard hoping all is in good order, but mysterious bald spots can stop them in their tracks.  Comb-overs are briefly considered, but discarded since the grass is mowed only three inches high.

Weeds are public enemy number one.  In some cases weed control poses a dilemma, because the weeds outnumber the grass.  Surely there is a potion to pour to get the miracle green?

Fortunately, Colorado State University Extension has a program designed to help the turf-challenged right in their own backyard.  CSU Lawncheck includes a site visit by horticulture staff and includes recommendations for fixing and caring for the lawn.

I must admit, I’ve been living for the day I can arrive at a person’s home and announce “It’s alright, m’am, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”  I never dreamed it would involve leaning close to brown spots to sniff for eau-de-dog, or stand in the path of a sprinkler as it is turned on.

The minimum cost is $75, which includes up to one hour for a site visit and the written report.  Mileage costs may apply, depending on the distance of the site from the county Extension office.  Lab fees for any samples collected will vary, based upon the tests to be run.

In most cases, yard problems are due to how the lawn is cared for, and homeowners can cure problems themselves.  Occasionally, help will be needed from a professional lawn care company, so contact the folks at Colorado Association of Lawn Care Professionals,, for their list of local experts.

CSU Lawncheck is not available in all counties.  Call your local CSU Extension to see if they are participating.  If they are, make an appointment and plan to be onsite to talk over the lawn assessment.   We’ll walk the lawn with you.  Visit the CSU Lawncheck website for a listing of participating counties, or to schedule an appointment at


By Carol O’Meara, Colorado State University Extension

Colorado State University Extension, together with Boulder County Parks and Open Space, provides unbiased, research-based information about consumer and family issues, horticulture, natural resources, agriculture and 4-H youth development. For more information contact Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Rd., Box B, Longmont, 303.678.6238.