So, your turf looked perfect, then all of a sudden it was not looking so good. Don’t worry; it’s probably not your fault. Even if you’ve followed all the best management practices, our best efforts do not necessarily guarantee protection from diseases such as fungus and blight.
Common turf diseases have a variety of causes, from environmental factors to fertilization issues which cannot always be foreseen, even by the experts. Below are five on the most common diseases that affect turfgrass in Georgia. With proper identification you can be sure to choose the correct treatment. For in-depth advice on maintenance and treatments for your turf, check out Tidewater’s “Common Lawn Issues” E-book.
1) Brown Patch
It is not uncommon for people to think that any browning of their turf is Brown Patch, but this is not necessarily the case. Brown Patch most commonly occurs in high humidity areas when temperatures are cooler. It will spread rapidly as daytime temperatures reach over 85˚F and night time temperatures are over 60˚F. The problem is most likely to occur after a few days in which the grass stays wet for 10 hours or more, as well as when grass is cut too short. Here are a few things to look for:
- From above, the disease will often appear as a brown circle with a tuft of green in the center, almost like a donut.
- The browning may affect any area as small as 5 inches and as large as 10 feet in diameter.
- The bases of the infected leaves of grass will rot and can be pulled out.
- New blades of grass may appear, from the crown of the grass, once the diseased blades have died off.
2) Fairy Ring
Fairy Ring is a common fungal disease that occurs on cool and warm weather turf, under wet conditions, and when there is organic matter under the soil, such as the rotting roots of an old tree. Here is what you should look for:
- The outer ring of grass may appear dark green with yellow and brown grass inside the ring.
- The ring can be any size, up to about 20 feet in diameter.
- The main identifying feature of fairy ring is the mushrooms that will appear in a ring during the reproduction phase of the fungus.
3) Dollar Spot
Dollar spot is another common disease that affects both cool and warm season varieties of turfgrass during periods of wetness. This particular disease becomes worse when the grass is stressed by dry soil conditions. Here are some features to look for:
- The disease often appears as yellow-brown spots about the size of a dollar (hence, the name Dollar Spot).
- Individual blades of grass show straw-colored lesions with a brown border that extends from the tip down length of the blade, or laterally across the width of the blade.
4) Leaf Spot
Leaf Spot most commonly affects cultivars of turfgrass including, Creeping Red Fescue, Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, Tall Fescue, Bentgrass, Bermudagrass, Bluegrass, Zoysiagrass and Centipede. It generally occurs in cool and wet conditions, especially when the blades of grass stay wet for several days at a time, when high amounts of nitrogen have been added and when the grass has been cut too short. Here are some identifying features:
- The initial infection appears as purple-brown to black spots with a tan-colored centre.
- The blades of grass shrivel near the base.
- Leaf Spot is also known as Melting Out because of the tendency of grass to thin out after the initial infection appears.
5) Plythium Root Rot
Plythium Root Rot affects Bermudagrass, Centipedegrass, Zoysiagrass and St. Augustinegrass. It occurs on well-maintained turf from cool to warm temperatures where there is little sun and the soil stays wet due to poor drainage. Here are the common symptoms:
- Irregularly shaped yellow patches
- Grass blades are thin and grow poorly
If you notice symptoms of any turfgrass disease on your lawn, don’t hesitate to call for some professional attention.
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