Identifying And Controlling Lawn Diseases

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This article provides helpful tips for how to identify and control lawn diseases
by Brett · All Zones · Lawn Care · 0 Comments · June 17, 2013 · 16,371 views

Brown Patch lawn diseaseSometimes bad things happen even to the healthiest lawns. Just when we get the lawn looking perfect, along comes a rainy, hot, humid summer....and, with it, sometimes a fungus. Out of all plant diseases, lawn diseases are some of the most difficult to identify, and to control.

Before you head out to your local nursery and garden center or hardware store to buy a fungicide, read this article to find some helpful information, pictures and control tips to help you with your lawn problem. The more you know about lawn diseases the better able you are to choose the right method of control.

Many lawn diseases are difficult to distinguish from other common problems, such as insect pests or damage caused by animal urine or feces. If you've been gardening for a number of years, chances are you've already encountered a lawn disease problem. If so, you know the most common method of control is application of a fungicide. But treating everything with a fungicide is not always necessary or the best remedy.

Some lawn diseases simply do not respond to or require a fungicides. Instead, they respond to improved cultural, maintenance and watering practices. Worst case scenario, you might need to consider growing a different type of grass because the one you have is susceptible to fungus in the environment you are trying grow it in. Lawn grasses that prefer full, all-day direct sunlight, such as Bermuda grass, will be more susceptible to fungus in shady or even partially shaded environments. A lawn grass that likes well-drained, sandy soils is more susceptible to disease in poorly draining soils. That being said, no desirable lawn grass I know of likes constantly wet and soggy soil!

Because many lawn diseases are fast spreaders, and can be tracked from one small section of the yard to the entire yard by way or foot traffic or lawn mower tires, the sooner you identify the disease and get it under control the better.

Identifying the disease...

Before trying to cure a disease, first identify the disease. Except for the experienced or trained professional, this is often easier said then done. While some lawn diseases are easy to identify through basic observation, others are very similar in appearance. Even though two different diseases might look alike there can be two different remedies for control.

Ideally, if you have little or no experience with lawn diseases, you should consult with someone that has a lot of experience. This might be your local trained lawn care provider, nursery and garden center professional or local extension agent. These professionals have learned through experience in the field and/or through proper certification what lawn diseases look and behave like, and the best methods for control.

Controlling lawn diseases...

First, the best cure for a lawn disease is prevention. Prevention has much to do with proper care and maintenance practices. Follow these basic guidelines to prevent lawn disease:

  1. Grow the right type of lawn grass - If you are unsure about the various types of lawn grasses and which one might be best for your particular environment (sun, soil type, etc.), consult with your local nursery and garden center professional, lawn care professional, our local extension agent as to which one is best.
  2. Soil, soil soil! - All lawn grasses prefer a soil that drains well. Depending on the type of lawn grass, poorly drained soils should be amended with organic matter and/or sand or other materials to ensure proper drainage. Low-lying areas that trap water should be filled or graded so that they drain properly. Consult with a professional to help you determine what lawn grass type is best for the soil type in your yard and what amendments might need to be added to improve soil quality.
  3. Light requirements - Make sure to match the sun needs to the grass type!
  4. Proper fertilization - Because they grow fast and will be cut often, many lawn grasses are heavy feeders. Fertilization is important. however the wrong fertilizer can weaken the plants or cause excessive growth that leads to development of damaging diseases.
  5. Proper irrigation - Most types of lawn grasses need water to thrive. But too much water, or watering at the wrong time of day, can cause problems. To prevent lawn diseases, water the lawn during the early to late morning hours. Never water in the late evening or at night!
  6. Proper mowing practices - Know the height your type of lawn grass should be mowed at. Never remove more than one-third the height of the grass during a mowing. Doing so can stress and weaken your lawn, making it more susceptible to disease. Always mow when turf is dry, never when wet. Late morning or late afternoon is best.

On the next page of this article there are descriptions and some pictures of common lawn diseases that might help you with identification.


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