Lawn Diseases

Of all the pests that damage lawns, fungus diseases are one of the most difficult to tame.

Sooner or later, just about every turfgrass area will develop various disease problems. Some are harmless, while others can destroy areas in your lawn.

Fungi, microscopic organisms that are found everywhere and are spread by water, air, animals, etc, usually cause plant diseases. Certain varieties of turf are more susceptible to certain diseases than others, and they are under different cultural practices. That is why one lawn may have a disease problem, while another next door may be fine.

Most diseases we see are wam-weather diseases that are more severe during high rainfall and high humidity. May and June are the months when most damaging turf diseases do their damage. During summer months, the humidities are generally lower, unless a homeowner is irrigating excessively. Fall provides another opportunity for fungi to infect turf during rainy periods.

Spring Dead Spot is a turf disease which is unique only to Bermudagrass. If you have a Bermudagrass lawn, you may notice many brown circles appearing as your grass is trying to green-up this spring. They aren’t crop circles, but rather a very common and troublesome turf disease called Spring Dead Spot.

Brown Patch is a problem disease we see, which can especially do damage to Fescue and St. Augustine lawns. Look for brown spots a few inches to several feet in diameter, with a yellowish “smoke ring” around the perimeter of the patch especially early in the morning. It is recommended to apply a turf fungicide if conditions merit to avoid loosing turf.

Dollar Spot is a summer disease of bermudagrass and zoysia grass. Small silver dollar-shaped brown spots appear, sometimes coalescing together to form larger brown patches. The disease is favored under low soil fertility and low soil moisture conditions, along with excessive dew or frequent irrigation. Fungicides are usually not recommended for this disease, as a good nitrogen fertilization will eliminate the problem.

Winter Kill refers to any severe damage or death sustained by the turf during the winter months. For the most part, well cared for turf is resilient and strong, but winter weather can be unforgiving to even the best lawns.

There are many other diseases, which can infect turf. Look to our links pages for more information. There are cultural practices, which you can do to lessen the chance and severity of turfgrass disease.

Maintain Proper Soil Fertility

As long as you are on one of our full programs, preferably the 6 or 7-Step, we’ll take care of that. Inadequate nitrogen and potassium especially can increase disease problems. Too much nitrogen fertilization can also lead to disease problems. That’s why we only apply the proper amount of fertilizer each time-not too much or not too little-in order to green-up your lawn.

On some types of grass that are more susceptible to diseases in the summertime, we apply slow-release organic fertilizers, which are safer and better to use during periods of high disease pressure.

Irrigate Properly

Disease problems are more severe when the turf stays constantly moist. Sometimes, Mother Nature takes care of that for us, especially during spring. Sometimes homeowners can make the problem more severe by watering every day and at the wrong time of day. We recommend deep, infrequent irrigation, so that the water can get down deep into the root zone. We want the topsoil to dry out a little in between waterings. Do not water every day. Do not water in the evenings, so that the turf stays damp all night. Finish your irrigation as the sun comes up early in the morning so that the grass blades will dry out quickly.

Mow Properly

Mowing with a dull blade will damage the grass blade, leading to more infestation from fungus pathogens. Not mowing frequently enough and leaving excessive clippings on the turf can also lead to more disease problems.

We do offer a turf disease service with applications of certain turf fungicides. These are liquid applications, which not only kill the disease pathogens, but also will provide about 3 weeks of systemic control of re-infestation. We can do this on an as-needed basis, or we can set you up on a semi-preventative program with 1 or 2 treatments of fungicide every year during the peak disease periods from about April through early July.

For more information on these and other lawn diseases, visit:

http://aggie-turf.tamu.edu/
http://www.libraries.psu.edu/
http://turf.ufl.edu/

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