How to Deal with Grass Fungal Diseases in Your Lawn
By: Julie Day
Lawn fungal diseases take on a variety of forms – from dead-looking brown patches to highly visible spots, threads, rings, or slimes. And once they strike your yard, grass fungal diseases can be difficult to treat.
Fortunately, the right lawn care practices can go a long way toward prevention and treatment; and in severe cases, a fungicide can help eradicate the spores to keep it from spreading. Here are some tips for preventing and treating fungal diseases in your lawn.
Causes of Lawn Fungal Disease
Your lawn is naturally full of fungi and spores, some harmless and some problematic, but the right (or wrong) conditions can cause grass fungus to erupt into a harmful disease. The most common causes of a lawn fungal disease are:
- Improper mowing (especially mowing too low)
- Compacted soil
- Too much fertilizer (or using the wrong kind)
- Wrong grass type for your yard
- Weather conditions (particularly temperature and humidity)
How To Identify Lawn Fungal Diseases
Signs that your lawn may have a fungal disease include:
- Areas of darkened, wet-looking, slimy, or greasy-looking grass.
Common Lawn Fungal Diseases
There are quite a few fungal diseases that can impact lawns, but they’re usually pretty specialized, targeting specific lawn types, at certain times of year, under certain conditions. For example:
- Dollar spot tends to spring up when nights are cool and dew is heavy.
Before treating your lawn, it’s important to identify not only whether your lawn indeed has a fungal disease, but to identify the fungus itself. All fungicides aren’t the same, and some diseases can be easily treated by making changes in your lawn care.
Knowing your grass type and recent weather conditions can make it easier to narrow down, but you may need help in figuring out exactly what’s going on. Your local cooperative extension center is your best resource for determining which diseases are most common in your area, or you can take a small baggie of the infected grass to your local garden center for help.
How To Prevent and Treat Lawn Fungal Diseases
A simple change in your lawn care practices may be enough to prevent or eradicate lawn fungal disease. At other times nature may deliver a soggy spring or summer heat wave that just can’t be helped. Stressed or unhealthy lawns are much more likely to develop disease; so the better you care for your lawn, the better the grass will be able to handle the natural conditions in your area.
Follow these steps to help take control of fungal diseases in your lawn:
- Fungicides: If all else fails, look for a fungicide (preferably organic) that’s rated specifically for your lawn disease. Fungicides won’t help your grass regrow, but they’ll get the fungal spores in check so that your improved lawn care practices can take effect.
- How to Control Powdery Mildew in Your Yard (article)
- How to Identify the Cause of Brown Spots in Your Yard (article)
- Lawn Diseases (North Dakota State University)
- Fungus Diseases of Lawns (University of Rhode Island Master Gardeners)