Posts Tagged ‘lawn disease’

Red thread disease

Published by mrgrass on June 22nd, 2014 - in Cultural Practices, Turf Disease

Nothing can spoil the fine view of a healthy lawn than an abrupt case of red thread. Appearing from spring until fall and typically confined to humid or wet weather, red thread can pop up in a short period of time with a characteristic fist-sized patch of pink emanating out of the ends of the grass blades. This discoloration later turns tan or light brown. Red thread can be spread to other lawn areas if cut when wet because it is a moisture-loving fungal disease. Red thread is a very common lawn disease and can really make a nice lawn look rather unsightly. Fortunately, keeping your lawn healthy is the best prevention: a.m. watering, regular mulching of the clippings for a natural fertilization, and not mowing when wet.

Older red thread in a home lawn
Unfortunately, some grasses like fine fescue are more prone to becoming infected with red thread than say bluegrass. Commercial mowing can also spread the disease from one infected lawn to another under the right conditions, such as wet grass. The good news is red thread is primarily an esthetic disease, not generally causing any long- term damage, unlike brown or summer patch. (See http://www.mrgrassblog.net/2013/06/11/lawn-diseases/ for additional information on summer or brown patch.) The characteristic pink patches are most noticeable early in the morning while dew is still present. Red thread actually grows out of the tips of the grass blade appearing like pink cotton candy. A fungicide can be used to clean up the disease, especially if there is a low tolerance to how it looks or perhaps a special event is planned and the lawn needs to be in pristine shape.

Red thread disease in lawn
Mulching your clippings helps recycle valuable organic matter and actually helps keep the lawn more stable in terms of year-round health. Grass clippings help reduce peaks and valleys in a fertility program or when unusually wet weather causes a rapid growth rate, depleting the bank of food available to your lawn. Cutting at 3” also insures a more supportive root system, ideal when hot weather hits, keeping the soil surface cooler and inhibiting weed seeds from germinating.

Red thread patches in a home lawn
If you think you have a case of red thread disease, give your local lawn care provider a call and have it checked out to confirm this diagnosis. Like a common cold, red thread can pop up and then just go away, so don’t fear.

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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.

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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.

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