Preventing Lawn Fungus

Kate McIntyre

Have you noticed suspicious blotches springing up around your lawn? If so, you might have lawn fungus. When your lawn harbors disease, it is vital that you attack the problem in its early stages. Untreated lawn fungi can spread like wildfire, transforming lush green grass into an ugly mess of bare patches and brown spots. Since lawn fungus can be tough to spot and tricky to get rid of, it is vital for homeowners to learn how to spot them early.

How Can I Recognize a Lawn Fungus?

Many types of fungi do not cause permanent damage to lawns. Around 100 types of lawn fungi are possibly harmful, however, and do require immediate care. Depending on the time of year and type of weather, lawn diseases that could appear include:

  • Powdery mildew. Not only can this disease infect lawns, it may spread to outdoor plants. Powdery mildew usually looks like a sprinkling of flour on grass stems and leaves.
  • Melting out. At first, this fungus appears as reddish-brown or purplish-black spots on leaves. Gradually, the disease shows up on crowns and roots, killing large areas of grass.
  • Red thread. This disease causes reddish brown patches to appear in lawns. As the disease grows, tiny red threads will begin to stick out from your grass leaves.
  • Brown patch. Wet brown patches, caused by the fungus Rhizoctonia, can show up irregularly in lawns. Typically, these brown patches are surrounded by grey rings.
  • Dollar spot. This disease begins with tan marks on individual grass blades. As the fungus spreads, patches of your lawn will turn yellow and die.

How Can I Prevent Lawn Fungus?

Careful homeowners can stop fungi from ever taking root. First, you should have your soil tested. When your lawn's soil doesn't have the right pH or lacks important nutrients, your lawn is more susceptible to disease. Next, make sure your lawn is properly drained. Sitting water turns lawns into breeding grounds for fungi. Not only can drainage help lawns to stay dry, watering lawns early in the morning can allow daylight to burn off any extra moisture. Finally, make sure that your lawn mower's blades stay razor sharp. Dull blades may create ragged cuts, which can both kill grass and allow fungal spores to flourish. If your lawn does have fungus, consider consulting a lawn care professional for advice on treatment. He or she will most likely recommend a regimen of fungicide and drainage improvement.

About the Author
Kate McIntyre is a writer in Portland, Oregon. She holds a B.A. from Harvard University and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Oregon State University.

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