Lawn diseases can be a very confusing subject because the average homeowner would have a hard time telling the difference between a lawn disease, stress, or insect activity. Spring diseases range from snow mold coming out of winter, to leaf spot, dollar spot, and red thread. Summer diseases can range from damping off disease, patch disease, brown patch, and rust. Fall diseases mirror spring without snow mold.
Most grass diseases can be traced back to a fungus, adequate moisture/temperature (climate), and the susceptible host plant. Like any disease triangle, all three pieces listed above must occur to produce what you visually see as a problem. Most diseases are fungal in nature and as such, most adore moisture – lots of it! As such, many lawn diseases can be attributed to excessive irrigation in a manicured, suburban lawn. Too much kindness can lead to all kinds of disease issues in your lawn when it comes to watering. Too much water fills up valuable air pockets in the soil that leads to shallow roots and predisposes your lawn to all kinds of health issues. Watering late in the day leaves moisture and water on the surface of the leaf blade, on the soil, and raises humidity low to the ground. Any of these facts can cause a disease outbreak in mere hours with the right temperature and host; your lawn! Fungal diseases can be aesthetic like red thread and not really cause much harm. Or, fungal diseases can progress all the way to summer brown patch with the possibility of not only losing lawn density overnight but having dead patches before that first cup of coffee is finished the next morning!
As a homeowner, you have the largest control on preventing or contributing to fungal diseases in your lawn. Mowing a lawn when wet can spread diseases from lawn to lawn if you have a mowing company out each week. Over-watering can cause disease and root problems as previously mentioned. Watering in the morning or day can minimize moisture presence overnight, reducing the likelihood of a fungal outbreak. While most diseases are fungal in nature, some are bacterial and some are found in the soil itself which become active during the ideal weather conditions. Extended rainy periods can induce leaf spot disease and turf thinning if followed by hot sunny weather. Stress on a lawn such as mowing a sod/blue grass lawn too short can induce symptoms such as pitting or scarring with patch disease. Some diseases are more likely under high fertilizer use and some under low. Lawn diseases are complicated and difficult to diagnosis without real field experience. Treatment and prevention of lawn diseases run hand-in-hand and are just more reasons to have a professional lawn care company helping you each month throughout the growing season. When it comes to diagnosing and treating lawn diseases, there is no substitute for real field experience and education, everything you get with Chippers’ turf division.