4 Steps to Help Your Lawn Recover From Brown Patch!

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If you live in the Mid-Atlantic States and Tall Fescue is the predominate grass in your lawn, be on the look-out since this is the time of year when Brown Patch begins to show up.

It has been a wet, humid year and now that the temperatures are beginning to rise, the prime conditions for Brown Patch to develop are in place. These conditions include: night time temperatures above 80 degrees, high humidity and turf that is growing quickly.

Watering at night is an all too common practice for many home owners and creates a breeding ground for brown patch. Watering in the early morning is better. If you have an automatic sprinkler system, set it to start at 3 or 4 in the morning. It is still dark at that time, but the Brown Patch fungi do not have enough time to grow and develop before the sun rises again.

If your lawn does develop Brown Patch here is what you should do:

  1. Change your cultural practices for watering as outlined above.
  2. Mow at 3 to 4 inches.
  3. Use a fungicide or call Spring-Green to treat your lawn.
  4. Core and Overseed your lawn in the late summer and fall. Spreading new grass seed after aeration is recommended to help the lawn recover from the stresses of summer.

There are several fungicides that are labelled to control Brown Patch. Read the product label before purchasing the product so that you can confirm that Brown Patch is one of the diseases that the material will control. In many cases, the label will list both a preventative and curative rate. If you choose to apply a fungicide, you will want to use the higher curative rate. Of course, if you are a Spring-Green customer, you can call your local office to schedule a Brown Patch treatment.

The conditions for Brown Patch to develop can last several months, but the effectiveness of most fungicides last 28 days or less. That means you may have to apply two or more applications during the summer. Be sure to read and follow all label directions before using any pest control products.

Spores of all types of diseases can be found in most lawns. These diseases may develop if the environmental conditions are present for a long enough time for the pathogen to grow and attack the lawn. Following good cultural practices along with a balanced nutrition program will go a long way in making sure your lawn looks good all year. For more information on Spring-Green additional services call your local Spring-Green office.

Be On the Lookout: Large Patch Symptoms Now Showing!

This disease was formerly called Brown Patch, which is a disease that affects cool-season grasses in the middle of the summer.  It is basically the same disease, but Large Patch begins the infection process in the fall and the symptoms show in the late spring early summer. Brown Patch begins to infect cool-season grasses during periods of high heat and humidity and the symptoms immediately show on the lawn.

Large Patch

Large Patch begins to develop when soil temperatures drop to about 70 degrees in the fall. The symptoms of the disease may show in the fall, but more likely they will show during the spring of the following year, especially during cool, wet periods. The symptoms become very noticeable as these grasses start greening up.

Large patch is more likely to show up on lawns that receive excessive nitrogen fertilization in the fall and spring, have excessive thatch layers, have been over-watered or been mowed too low. Centipede-grass is most susceptible to the disease, followed by Zoysia, St Augustine and Bermuda-grass.  Bermuda-grass is rarely affected by the disease and will quickly recover if it does get the disease.

Following good cultural practices of proper mowing, deep and infrequent watering, proper fertilization and annual core aeration will help prevent the disease from occurring.  Avoid fertilizing the lawn after the middle of September and don’t fertilize until the grasses begin greening up in the spring.

There are fungicides that work very well on these diseases, but require two applications in the fall, 30 days apart, when soil temperatures drop to below 70 degrees. The easiest way to check the soil temperature is with a digital meat thermometer, pushed in the ground about two inches in four or five locations throughout the lawn and then average out the temperature readings.

If you think that your lawn may have Large Patch, contact your local Spring-Green office to have your lawn evaluated.  They can help develop a program that will benefit your lawn and help to prevent the re-occurrence of Large Patch.

Lawn Care 101- Are You Up for the Task?

weedy lawn

Pushing a spreader across a lawn is not all that difficult and spraying a few weeds doesn’t take an advanced degree. Here are some things to take into consideration when deciding between taking care of your lawn yourself or hiring a lawn care company to do the work for you.

No offense to my friends who own lawn maintenance companies, but it does not take much expertise to mow a lawn or use a weed whacker. Most homeowners hire a maintenance company because they are tired of doing the work themselves. However caring for your lawn requires more technical knowledge and knowledge of which products to apply and when to apply them.

When I visit my local hardware store in the spring and I see homeowners looking at all of the different weed control products, wondering which one is the best to use, I feel like I should hold an impromptu training session on which product should be used on which plants and on what turfgrasses.

We have all seen the homeowner who picked the wrong product and ended up with lots of dead spots in their lawn because he used a non-selective herbicide, like Round-Up, on his weeds.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself before performing your own lawn care: 

  1. Do lawns in your area have a problem with diseases or insects?
  2. What diseases and what insects are causing the problems?
  3. Are annual white grubs a problem in your lawn or is it chinch bugs or army worms?
  4. Does your lawn suffer from Red Thread, Rust, Brown Patch, Large Patch or Leaf Spot?
  5. What are the correct products to use to treat these insects or diseases?
  6. At what time of the year should they be applied?

Besides buying the right products, you also have to purchase the correct application equipment for the products you plan to use. Make sure to consider these things before heading to the store:

  1. Do you want to use a drop spreader or a broadcast spreader?
  2. Should you purchase a 1-gallon or 2-gallon handheld sprayer or use a hose end sprayer?
  3. What amount do you apply? Most products have labels that provide the application rates, but sometimes the rates are listed as a range, like 4 to 8 ounces per 1,000 sq. ft.
  4. What does a 1,000 sq. ft. look like?
  5. Do you know how big your lawn is so that you can purchase and apply the right amount?

Caring for a lawn may seem like an easy task, but there is a lot more to it than most people realize.  If you want a nice looking lawn, hire a lawn care professional.  It will actually save you money in the long run.

Interested in having your lawn cared for by professionals this spring? Contact your local Spring-Green for more information.

Large Patch: The Devastating Fall Patch Disease on Warm Season Turfgrasses

large patch disease on warm season turfgrass

We usually associate diseases with hot and humid weather of the summer, but diseases can occur throughout the year. One disease that is particularly devastating on warm-season grasses is called Large Patch. Brown Patch was the former name of this disease, and it is caused by the same fungi as Brown Patch, but it has been classified as a different lawn disease based on university research. Large Patch disease attacks Centipede, Zoysia and St. Augustine grasses. It can also affect Bermuda grass, but due to its aggressive growth habits, Bermuda often grows out of the disease.

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What Are the Symptoms of Large Patch Disease?

Symptoms of Large Patch lawn disease may be seen during periods of cool, wet weather in fall and spring. Many times, the symptoms of the disease are not evident until early spring when warm-season grasses begin to green-up in spring. Large Patch symptoms will look different depending on the turfgrass species and soil conditions.
These symptoms may show as thinned patches of light brown grass that are somewhat circular in shape from a few inches to several feet in diameter. Many times as the weather warms up, the center of the circular area will start to recover and leave behind a donut shaped ring.

What Is the Best Treatment for Large Patch Disease?

If your lawn had this disease last spring, treatment starts in the fall. There are several fungicides labelled to control Large Patch disease. Timing of the applications is important. Start the applications when soil temperatures reach about 70 degrees at a two inch depth. Depending on where you live, this could be early October to late November. The simplest way to check soil temperature is with an electronic meat thermometer. It is recommended that two applications are made in the fall about 30 days apart.

If you plan to make the applications yourself, be sure to read and follow all label directions. Spring-Green offices in warm-season areas offer Large Patch control applications. Call your local office to schedule this important preventative disease control treatment.

Overwatering Your Lawn Can Lead to Brown Patches in the Grass

brown patch in grass from over watering

Many customers equate a brown spot in their lawn as the lawn needing more water, when actually the opposite is what is often required. Too much water saturates the soil, filling up all the air space between the soil particles with water. This results in an anaerobic condition; basically the plant drowns, as it does not have enough oxygen to survive.

How Do Sprinkler Systems Overwater the Lawn?

Having a sprinkler system is great and it allows you to water your lawn with the push of a button. Unfortunately, people with a sprinkler system have a tendency to overwater. This can result in wasting water and can be detrimental to the health of your lawn—and that’s when many homeowners see brown patches in the grass.

Many sprinkler systems have a rain sensor in place as part of the system. These are great additions, but they do need to be inspected at least once a year to ensure that they are functioning properly. These sensors fail occasionally, meaning that they will not turn off the sprinkler system if it begins to rain. They can also get covered by leaves, become dislodged, get dirty, or need internal parts replaced on a regular basis.

Consider Adding Moisture Sensors to Prevent Overwatering

Another addition to the system would be moisture sensors that are placed in the ground to monitor how much moisture the soil contains. These sensors would then report back to the control unit and shut that zone down or increase the amount of water another zone may require. There is added cost to installing the sensors, and you may need to upgrade your control unit, but these items will pay for themselves by using less water and guarding against overwatering the lawn.

Maintenance Is the Key

Having your sprinkler system inspected on an annual basis is almost a necessity these days, especially if you live in areas experiencing drought conditions. Having an efficient system that correctly places water where and when it is needed is best for your lawn as well as your bank account.

In select markets, Spring-Green offers sprinkler system maintenance checks as well as upgrades to your current system. Check with your local Spring-Green office to see if this service is available to keep your system in tip top shape.

Why Does My Lawn Have a Disease and My Neighbor’s Lawn Doesn’t?

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I have heard this question many times since I have been in the lawn care industry. A customer’s lawn develops a disease and their neighbor’s lawn looks fine. Both lawns were put in the same time, have received the same basic care, but the neighbor does not have a lawn care service. Is the disease the result of the applications that were applied to the lawn?

In answering this question, the first thing to understand is how a disease develops. You have probably heard of the fire triangle. In order for a fire to develop, you need three basic components – fuel, heat and oxygen. If one of the three is removed, the fire is extinguished. When we discuss disease development, we call it the Disease Triangle. The three components are environment, host and pathogen.

When we say environment, we include weather conditions and temperature, but we also include any aspect that can affect the growing conditions of the plant, including plant selection and placement, mowing, watering and lawn fertilization. The pathogen is the disease causing agent, such as fungi, bacteria and viruses. Most every disease-causing agent may be present in the home lawn environment. They are part of nature and can survive for many years. The host plant is the tree, shrub or grass growing in the home landscape. In order for a lawn disease to develop, the environment has to exist for a long enough time for the pathogen to develop and infect the host plant.

Getting back to the original question, the reason why the disease developed in the lawn was that the right environment existed for a long enough time for the pathogen to develop and infect the host plant. Even though the lawn next to your lawn does not have a disease, it has the potential to develop it at some future time when conditions are right.

Treating lawn disease such as brown patch disease, red thread disease and spring dead spot disease usually requires improving the growing conditions of the lawn. This may mean changing watering habits, increasing mowing height, adjusting fertilization requirements, adding a soil amendment, core aerating to improve root development and/or overseeding to introduce disease resistant varieties of grass into the lawn.

There are disease control materials available to treat most lawn diseases, but the control is usually temporary and the disease often comes back. That is why Spring-Green often recommends improving the growing conditions as the best approach. In some locations, due to intense environmental stresses, a disease control material may be the best choice.