Posts Tagged ‘lawn disease’

Snow mold in your home lawn

Published by JKeefe on October 24th, 2011 - in Cultural Practices, Turf Disease

Classic visible snow mold damage

Cultural practices such as regular raking and mowing rank high on reducing snow mold in a home lawn setting during the fall.  Do not be tempted to cease mowing in October when a final cut should be done in November as the grass enters dormancy.  Not allowing leaf litter to accumulate or remain on the lawn as winter approaches is a great way to help minimize snow mold problems.  Cut your lawn a little shorter in late fall, as low as 1.5 inches to minimize matted grass and leaves.

Aerating will help reduce compaction and maintaining a slightly acidic soil pH will also help reduce pink snow mold.  Minimizing the amount of highly soluble nitrogen is also an important factor as succulent leaf blades are more susceptible as fall becomes winter.  Use of a slow release fertilizer while applying lower rates of nitrogen is a great solution if you have experienced snow mold problems in the past.

Gray and Pink snow mold are the two most widely known snow mold diseases in our geographic region.  Gray snow mold prefers actual snow cover while Pink can manifest itself just fine without snow so long as the moisture and temperature range are desirable.  Most snow molds become visible in March and can grow well into April with the appropriate weather conditions manifesting themselves in discolored patches ranging from 1-2ft to mere inches in diameter.  These patches can take on the appearance of cotton candy with colors ranging from gray, to pink, to white depending upon the time of day and type.

Reducing snow along your driveway, walkways, or minimizing large piles will help minimize gray snow mold at your home.  Fungicides should only be used as a last resort in a home lawn setting but can offer some protection with proper timing (late fall or early spring) and combination of products.  Creating a healthy lawn with a diverse turf grass population alongside proper cultural practices is going to be your best asset toward snow mold prevention.  If you do experience snow mold damage next spring, be sure to have your lawn aerated, raked, and fertilized to help maximize recovery of the affected areas.


July lawn tips, what to do when you take a vacation

A few easy steps can save your lawn during summer vacation

July is a month where your home lawn can be easily neglected due to many New Englanders seeking out the beach or mountain lakes on summer vacation.  There is a short checklist that can prevent some issues and provide peace of mind while you are away enjoying those early morning beach walks.

Before you depart, make sure your lawn is cut the day before you leave if possible.  If you have a mowing service, the task of mowing is not really an issue.  If you mow yourself, a cut the day before will normally give you a solid 7 to 10 day time frame in which to return without the lawn having grown too long.  In fact, during a hot July period, it is better to go 2 weeks without mowing if the air temperature is in the 80’s and rainfall is absent.  If you return and your grass is really tall, such as over 6”, removal of your clippings is recommended or be sure to rake up the rows of cut grass.

Have your lawn inspected for insect activity; left unchecked, under ideal weather conditions you can lose a lawn in days without curative action.  I have seen a number of lawns with sod webworm damage with the characteristic tan moth taking flight as you walk near.  These small patches are fist size in nature and can coalesce into larger stripes or patches if not treated during the summer months.

Although this season has been on the humid and warm side, promoting diseases over insect activity, a professional lawn evaluation is worth the peace of mind.  If your lawn has confirmed disease issues, it may well be worth a fungicide application to “clean things up” during the July/August period where serious injury can occur.  Summer diseases can easily appear to be drought or insect activity.  Hot weather and warm nights can bring on blotches and spots in mere hours without you realizing the culprit.  You may awake and look out the kitchen window only to ask “Those patches were not there yesterday, were they?”  Thatchy lawns are particularly prone to summer patch diseases, manifesting as scars and pits when placed under stress.

Irrigation or lawn watering is helpful during dry periods but is not necessary during a standard summer vacation.  If you have a sprinkler system or a friend to water, be sure to water in the am or day versus late afternoon, thus minimizing disease issues.  As always, infrequent deep watering is preferred over frequent light watering to promote deeper root systems and minimize disease.  A 1hr watering every other day is generally preferred over a daily 15 minute watering.  Don’t let your lawn stop you from enjoying a great July summer vacation.


Lawn diseases can mimic drought or insect damage

Published by JKeefe on June 27th, 2011 - in Lawn Care Companies, Turf Disease

Summer patch, very common in hot weather

Most lawn diseases are fungal in nature, appearing from early spring to late fall, manifesting from minor discoloration to swift turf death, such as in brown patch disease.

Turf diseases are very difficult to diagnose in a home lawn due in part to the complex nature of the appearance as it relates to air temperature, mowing height, fertility, thatch thickness, and moisture present on the lawn surface.  Like an episode of CSI, diagnosing and treating lawn diseases requires experience and a future game plan for successful treatment.  By the time most people see the damage appear in their home lawn, the fungal disease has manifested as brown spots or dead patches.  Since most lawn diseases are fungal in nature, they love humidity or moisture in order to activate and complete a life cycle, be it brief.  Temperature also plays a huge role, from the cool weather of snow molds to the high heat and humidity required to see brown patch disease.

Red thread looks mean but really is not a serious disease

June of 2011 has brought about an unusual set of weather phenomena from cool wet days to hot, moist nights several weeks ago.  The result of this kind of weather predisposes home lawns to multiple disease infections.  The best offense is a good defense in these kinds of circumstances.  First, any watering should be done in the am or daytime, allowing the lawn to dry out in time for nightfall.  Grass left wet over night sets the stage for all kinds of fungal diseases.  Your mowing height is very important during the summer and should be kept at or near 3”.  A shorter cut predisposes the lawn to stress and assists in the ability of disease to not only manifest itself, but cause more damage than a lawn cut properly.  I cannot stress the importance of proper mowing height, especially in the June through August time frame.

Thatch management through core aeration is a critical process that can help minimize patch diseases when done in the spring or fall.  Overseeding with disease resistant grass varieties can also help prevent the future visual annoyance of dead or brown patches caused by patch diseases.  If your lawn has confirmed disease issues, the use of fungicides may be desired to help reduce the occurrence of especially serious ones like Brown Patch, Necrotic Ring Spot, Fusarium Blight, Pythium, or Summer Patch.

Slow-release fertilizers should be used during the summer months as excessive fertility can lend to the appearance of certain diseases under the right conditions.  On a good note, red thread, minor leaf spot, and powdery mildew are generally not lethal and usually more aesthetically displeasing than damaging.  The key to any great lawn is maintaining a balance and doing many “little” things right to keep a healthy balance.  When it comes to lawn diseases, heat and humidity generally set the stage for a fungal outbreak in your lawn.  If you think you have an ongoing disease issue in your lawn, have an experienced, qualified person check things out.  This way, a plan can be put into place, be it a fungicide treatment now or setting up core aeration for this fall.  Left unchecked, some diseases can damage your sod or bluegrass lawn, causing scars, depressions, or thin areas.  June of this year seems to be one filled with diseases so far – I can hardly wait for July!

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