How to Identify & Repair Fairy Rings

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Once we started to get some much needed rain in my area, I noticed that I had some Fairy Ring arcs developing in my lawn. I have had a problem with this lawn disease off and on for the last twenty years and it has not been a problem as of late, but it has definitely showed up in an entirely new spot this year. Fairy rings are dark green circles or arcs in turf caused by numerous soil inhabiting fungi. These circles or arcs can range from as small as a foot in diameter to a large as 100 feet in diameter. In some situations, the fairy ring fungi activity can result in the death of the turf grass in these circles or arcs, such as what you see in this picture. Many times mushrooms are seen growing in the arcs or circles. The rings develop as the fungi grow through the soil and thatch breaking down organic matter. This microbial activity releases nitrogen to the turf, which causes the dark green circles or arcs. Why grass dies in these fairy rings is not thoroughly understood, but it may be due to the microbial activity causing a hydrophobic soil condition. In other words, water is not able to penetrate through the soil to the root system. This causes the plant to wilt and die. One way you can tell if you have Fairy ring is to look for a white mycelium growing in the soil. The mycelium can dry out and prevent water from penetrating the soil. You can see the white mycelium growing in the soil in this picture. Many times, an additional fertilization application will mask the dark green circles or arcs. Core aeration is also very helpful in helping water to continue to get down through the soil to the root system. There are some fungicides labeled to control theory ring, but it's a temporary solution. Core aeration will be the better way to go.