3 Summer Lawn Diseases to Be Aware Of
Discovering that all of your hard lawn work has gone to waste after the onset of lawn disease can be disheartening. While you can take measures to treat and stop further spread of the disease, the best method is prevention on the front end. These summer lawn diseases can be taxing, but understanding the signs and knowing how to prevent them can help keep your lawn under control.
Brown patch disease (rhizoctonia blight)
Over-fertilize your lawn before the harsh onset of a humid Southern summer and you might find your grass blighted with brown patch disease. As one of the summer lawn diseases, rhizoctonia blight primarily affects cool season grasses, but warm season grasses—like those common in the South—aren’t safe from danger.
Symptoms: As the name suggests, this disease takes the shape of brown patches across your lawn. These patches start out as small circles, but can grow to more than three feet in diameter. Once brown patch disease develops, its spread can become drastic overnight. Blighted grass may look dark, browned out, and wet. Some blades may show ashen lesions. The outer circle of blighted grass may show a strange, smoky ring, and in the morning, it may present cottony mycelium produced by the fungus growing in your grass.
Prevention: You can keep your lawn safe from brown patch disease by aerating and improving the drainage of your lawn’s soil and by not over fertilizing. Additionally, mow high—that is, don’t cut your grass under 3.5 inches of height—and water your lawn only as often as needed based on the weather, your region, and droughts.
Dollar spot disease
If you mow your lawn close to the soil during a droughted summer, you may leave your grass susceptible to dollar spot disease. Finding patches of dollar spot in your lawn tells you something important about your grass: it’s malnourished, particularly from a lack of nitrogen.
Symptoms: Grass inflicted with dollar spot disease often appears straw colored in patches of four to six inches, with grass blades showing tan and reddish bands. Lawns with dollar spot disease may also resemble brown spot disease. Additionally, you may find mycelium patches within the grass during dewy mornings.
Prevention: You can protect your grass from this lawn disease by maintaining good levels of nitrogen in your lawn. Once the disease has infected your lawn, you can treat the grass by adding nitrogen without the need for fungicide. Remember to water and fertilize your lawn as needed.
One of the most destructive summer lawn diseases to look out for is Pythium blight, which, much like brown spot disease, can grow, infect, and kill your lawn rapidly within 24 hours. Though most common on sports grass turf, home lawns may still suffer from Pythium blight if not properly managed. If your lawn does not contain adequate irrigation or is newly seeded, it may be more susceptible to contracting this blight.
Symptoms: The sudden onset of sunken, one-to-six-inch patches of slimy, wet-looking grass in your lawn, especially formed overnight, is a tale-tell sign of Pythium blight. During dewy mornings, patches of mycelium may be present. Once the grass dries, the blight will cause the grass to shrivel up and die. In newly -lawns, particularly those that have been improperly irrigated or have bad drainage, seedlings will turn black at the base and quickly die.
Prevention: Do not overfertilize your lawn or allow your lawn to become frequently flooded because of poor drainage. Aerate your lawn, keep the soil from becoming compact, and find ways to redirect flows of water. Avoid overwatering!
Due to high humidity and temperatures, summer lawn diseases can become problems for many homeowners in the South. By caring for your lawn using these prevention tips, you can prevent these diseases from infecting your grass.
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