Grass Diseases: The Fungus Among Us

It’s a typical morning and you decide to enjoy your cup of coffee out on the patio. After all, you put in a lot of work getting your lawn to look its absolute best and you’d like to enjoy the fruits of your labor, right?

But what is that over there? That discolored spot in your grass?

Sorry, my friend, but there’s a really good chance that spot is caused by grass fungus.

The good news is that you caught it early. Early detection and action is the key to stop the spread of fungal disease. The bad news is that there are many common causes of a lawn fungal disease. Some examples include:

  • Improper mowing
  • Compacted soil
  • Overwatering
  • Over fertilizing
  • Using the wrong kind of fertilizer
  • Wrong grass type for your yard
  • Weather conditions

Before you can treat the fungus, you need to identify what type of fungus it is. The Grounds Guys offers you this short description of the most common fungi to help you diagnose which fungus may be causing your problem.

Do you see dead spots or patches? It could be:

  • Large Patch (formerly known as Brown Patch): The symptoms include small circular patches of brown, lifeless grass. The patches often join together as they enlarge, reaching diameters of six feet or more. A dark, grayish-black ring of wilted grass often is present around the perimeter of the diseased areas in the early morning.
  • Dollar Spot: The symptoms include small circular areas of straw-colored grass, with small lesions visible on the blades of grass. The areas range from one to six inches across, and they may grow together to form large, irregularly shaped areas. A white, spider web-like growth covering the infected area may be visible in the morning, especially if dew is present.

Do you see rings or circles of discolored grass? It could be:

  • Fairy Ring: The symptoms include dark green rings with lighter green centers, sometimes with mushrooms sprouting up in the outer edges. The mushrooms aren’t the actual culprits, but they are a product of what’s happening in the soil beneath. The fungus is killing the organic matter in the soil; and since mushrooms live off of decaying matter, they are the fruiting bodies of the fungus. Additionally, the grass within the ring may appear to be healthy, but later may collapse and die.
  • Necrotic Ring Spot (typically in cool weather) or Summer Patch (typically in warm weather): The symptoms include circular patches of green lawn surrounded by a ring of dead or dying grass, sometimes to referred to as a “frog-eye” patch. The frog-eyes can range in size from several inches to several feet in diameter.

If you aren’t experiencing a soggy spring or a summer heat wave, then a simple change in your lawn care regimen may be enough to prevent or get rid of grass fungal disease. For example:

  • Mowing: Keep your blades sharp and mow your lawn at the correct height. Mowing your lawn too low leaves it vulnerable to disease. Also, wash the underside of your mower after each use to prevent the spread of any fungus.
  • Aerate and Dethatch: Aerate every year or two to loosen the soil and remove thick buildups of thatch. This allows the soil to breath.
  • Watering: Water early in the morning to allow the grass blades to dry during the day. Water deeply, but less frequently, to encourage stronger roots and to allow the water to absorb properly.
  • Fertilize: Over or under fertilizing can promote some fungal diseases, so choose the correct fertilizer for your grass type, and apply it exactly as instructed. Avoid excess nitrogen, which may create a fast green lawn, but it will have very poor defenses against nitrogen-loving fungi.

For a more difficult fungus issue, or fungi that attack the roots of the grass, like the Necrotic Ring Spot or Summer Patch fungus, you may need to administer a systemic round of fungicide. Look for a fungicide that is rated specifically for your lawn disease.

Grass fungus can undo all the hard work you’ve done to make your lawn look beautiful. Let the fungus experts at The Grounds Guys help! We’ll get to the bottom of your fungal problem and get your property back in tip-top shape so that you can enjoy your lawn…and your morning coffee.

Categories: Landscape, Garden

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