What is Turfgrass Disease? What Causes It?
Lawn diseases are generally caused by pathogenic fungi that occur naturally in the thatch and soil. There are a wide variety of fungi living in the soil and thatch of a lawn, but only a small number cause disease symptoms in turfgrass. The vast majority of fungi are beneficial, and contribute to the biodegradation of dead plant material as well as the breakdown on complex organic compounds into useable nutrients that the plants can absorb.
What Does Lawn Disease Look Like?
Symptoms of disease in a lawn can appear in a number of ways, depending on the fungi that is causing the disease. You might see brown circular spots, dead rings, irregular patches, red or white mycelium growing on the grass blades or the roots may appear black & rotten. If you suspect that your lawn has a disease, contact your local Nutri-Lawn immediately and we'll schedule a free service call.
What Can Be Done to Correct a Disease Problem?
The majority of the disease problems experienced on home lawns can be managed by ensuring the following practices are adhered to.
Make sure the lawn is being properly Irrigated
Overwatering creates an environment that is perfect for fungal diseases to spread. Make sure the surface of the lawn is allowed to dry out between waterings, as this will kill or inhibit the disease.
Water in the early morning
Watering in the afternoon results in a significant amount of the watering being lost to evaporation, and this leads to shallow watering and shallow root development and ultimately poor drought tolerance. Watering in the evening results in the lawn staying wet for the entire night before the sun can dry off the lawn the following day. This wet environment is conducive to disease development.
Sharpen Your Mower Blade
A dull mower blade shreds the leaf blades rather than cuts them. The shredded blade does not heal well and is easily infected by disease organisms. The shredded blades also brown off and make your lawn look brown and unhealthy.
Mow at the Proper Height and Frequency
Avoid cutting to low as this will stress out the lawn and make it more susceptible to disease. Also, mow frequently enough so that only one third of the leaf blade is removed at each mowing. If you wait too long between mowings, and then cut low, the lawn will go into a state of shock and this added stress makes the lawn more disease susceptible.
Aerate the Soil Annually
Aeration reduces soil compaction and allows water and nutrients to move deeper into the soil and encourages deeper roots. This results in a healthier lawn better able to resist disease. The soil cores that are removed from the lawn breakdown and filter into the thatch layer and modify the thatch and introduce beneficial microbes that compete with disease causing organisms.
Ensure a Balanced Diet of Fertilizer
Too much fertilizer can create succulent leaves that are more susceptible to disease. Too little fertilizer can create a weak unhealthy lawn. Our programs modify the type and quantity of fertilizers applied throughout the season to ensure a balanced diet.
Overseed or slitseed with new, disease resistant cultivars of turfgrass. If your lawn suffers from a reoccurring disease problem then we strongly recommend that you overseed or slitseed with some new lawn seed that is resistant to the problem disease.