If You Had a Dollar for Every Dollar Spot On Your Lawn…

Dollar Spot Lawn Disease

You probably wouldn’t be rich, but you might have enough for a decent night out. We’re speaking, of course, about Dollar Spot, the lawn disease that cheapens the look of your lawn. This lawn disease can infect almost all cool-season and warm-season turfgrasses, including Bentgrass, Fescues, Kentucky bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass, Centipedegrass and St. Augustinegrass.

Development of Dollar Spot Lawn Disease

If conditions are right, the disease can develop on most any lawn, but a well-maintained lawn will recover from the damage faster than a lawn that does not receive the proper cultural practices for mowing, watering, fertilization and thatch control.

The conditions for Dollar Spot development include:

• Air temperatures from 60-90°F (most active at 70-80°F)
• Extended periods of high humidity, especially at night
• Most damage occurs when days are warm, nights are cool and dew is present for more than 8 hours
• Lawns that have low nitrogen fertility levels

Symptoms of Dollar Spots start with the development of fungal growths called mycelium, which invade the grass blades. On low cut grasses like bentgrass or Bermudagrass, the mycelium will form small, silver dollar sized spots, which is where it gets its name – Dollar Spot. On higher cut grasses, the patches are larger and can merge to form large blighted areas of turf.

The mycelium forms early in the morning and will often dry out as the sun rises in the morning. It will leave behind a definitive hourglass-shaped lesion on the grass blade that has a reddish brown border. In some cases, the leaf blade will turn a tannish-white color from the tip down, but it almost always has the reddish brown border between the damaged part of the leaf tip and the remaining green part of the blade.

Prevention and Treatment for Dollar Spot

Treating Dollar Spot requires following proper cultural practices. At Spring-Green, we develop a partnership with our customers. We rely on them to water during the morning hours and to water deeply, but infrequently. Mowing is also critical in preventing Dollar Spot development. Every turfgrass has a range of heights at which to mow.

During the late spring and summer months, mow at the highest recommended height for the turfgrass in your lawn. Another important practice is to core aerate your lawn every year. Core aeration will help improve root growth, which leads to a stronger lawn.

By following Spring-Green’s Preferred Lawn Care Program, your lawn will receive the proper amount of nutrients to develop a healthy lawn that can resist or recover from disease pressures. There are disease control materials available to help prevent Dollar Spot from developing and Spring-Green can apply those treatments if the disease is observed early on.

In most cases, a healthy, Spring-Green lawn will survive and recover from a minor disease infestation. Contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green to help prevent Dollar Spot from developing on your lawn and landscape.

Anthracnose: Leaf Infecting Fungi

anthracnose

Many parts of the US experienced a very wet spring. Some areas also had to deal with cooler than normal temperatures making it prime conditions for leaf-infecting fungi. The results of the infections caused by these fungi are noticeable now, as leaves begin to fall or the leaves which are still on the trees are showing spots or lesions. These lesions often form along the leaf veins or on the edge or margins of leaves and can range in color from tan to reddish-brown to black.

The cause of these spots are from a group of fungi collectively called anthracnose. The disease can infect numerous tree and shrub species including Maples, Oaks, Sycamores, Ash, Birch, Viburnum and several other species. The symptoms include leaf spots and lesions, shoot blight, cankers on twigs, limb dieback and almost entire defoliation of the plant.

In many cases, even with defoliation, anthracnose does not cause permanent damage to the tree. Sycamores are one tree that can lose almost every leaf in late spring to early summer due to the disease and it will regrow a new set of leaves. This does put stress on the tree, but unless it happens several years in a row, the tree can recover from its loss of leaves.

Preventing Further Outbreaks

As with many foliar diseases, one of the keys to preventing further outbreaks is sanitation. This means raking up and disposing of infected leaves. The fungi overwinter in leaf buds, twigs, fruit, fallen leaves and even the leaf stems, or petioles, depending on the type of anthracnose fungi found on the tree.

The disease cycle begins in the spring during cool wet, weather with most activity peaking when temperatures are in the 50-70°F range. The spores from the previous year are dispersed short distances by water or long distances by the wind. The infection stage begins as the leaves are beginning to open in the spring. If the weather conditions remain or become cool and wet, the disease can re-infect the same plant in the summer. The cycle ends when the weather dries and the leaves mature.

Treatment for Anthracnose

For the most part, anthracnose has more of a cosmetic effect than permanent effect on most trees. If the tree is healthy and well-cared for, it can defend itself against anthracnose. Maintaining good tree vigor is important, which includes watering, adequate fertilization, mulching and proper pruning.

Many people fail to water their trees during drought periods. This is especially important on recently planted trees. Removing the grass from around the base of the tree in a circle of about 3 to 4 feet and replacing the grass with a 3 inch layer of mulch will provide numerous benefits to the trees and avoid possible trunk damage from lawn mowers and line trimmers.

Spring and fall fertilization is also very beneficial to the health of all your landscape plants. There are disease control materials that can be applied very early in the year as the buds are open, but this is not usually required unless the plant experiences the same problem with anthracnose every year.

The best thing to do is to have your landscape evaluated to determine a program that is the most beneficial for the health of your plants. Contact your neighborhood Lawn Care Professional at Spring-Green to have your landscape evaluated for disease and insect problems and receive a program that will help produce healthier landscape plants.

My Lawn Has Dead Spots. What Do I Need To Do?

lawn spots

Visitors to the Spring-Green website, have the opportunity to send in their questions regarding lawn and landscape problems. In most cases, the questions are fairly specific when describing the problems that are being observed. Occasionally, a question comes in that is seeking information, but not enough information is provided to determine a possible cause. In other words, the question is, “My lawn has brown spots. What do I do?” This question needs more details.

Want To Identify the Lawn Spots?

It almost goes without saying that it is impossible to answer this question without additional information. Knowing something about the lawn itself is the first step:

  1. Where is the lawn located? Specify the city and state.
  2. What type of grass is in the lawn? If unsure, ask a neighbor or take a sample to a local nursery or garden center.
  3. How old is the lawn? Certain diseases are common to sod that is 2 to 5 years old.
  4. Was the lawn sodded, seeded or sprigged or a combination of these methods? Some insects and diseases are more common in sodded versus seeded lawns.
  5. Is the lawn in full sun, shady or a combination of the two? Turfgrasses need sunlight for 70% of the day to grow well.

The next thing to discover is something about the physical symptoms:

  1. Are there any spots, lesions or fruiting bodies present on the grass blades?
    These can all be signs of disease activity, such as red threads from the disease called as Red Thread or spots on the leaves that could indicate Leaf Spot or Brown Patch.
  2. Does the damage form a shape or is it just random dead areas? Circular patches are a good indicator of disease activity. Irregular or random dead spots are much more difficult to diagnose without being on the lawn.
  3. Are there any signs of insect activity? Turf that pulls up easily could indicate grub activity. Birds feeding on a lawn could indicate sod webworm or armyworm activity. Small trails through the lawn could indicate mole cricket activity.
  4. Does the turf look healthy or does it appear to be dying? Areas that appear to be dying off could indicate drought or is could indicate disease or insect activity. Again, this type of damage often requires a visual inspection.

Knowing the current weather conditions when the damage was first observed is also important, especially for disease activity. The environment plays an important role in when a disease may be active. There are diseases that are active in cool, warm and hot temperatures. The amount of moisture present also dictates when certain diseases are active, whether it is excessive or lacking.

Although not as critical, where the damage is located can be a key in determining the cause. If it is close to the road, sidewalks or driveways and the home is located in an area where salt is used during the winter, the damage is most likely from the salt. Another consideration is if the same damage is seen in any neighboring properties. That is usually a good indication of a disease or insect problem.

If you are seeking answers to a lawn problem, these suggestions can be helpful when communicating with a lawn professional. Please consider these details when submitting. You can send in your question at the “Ask Harold” section of our website or contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green.

 

Will There Be Freeze Damage to Your Lawn This Winter?

evidence of freeze damage on a spring lawn

Answering whether or not there will be freeze damage to your lawn this winter is almost impossible, since there are a few things to understand about how turf adjusts to freezing temperatures first. If your lawn has had a chance to become acclimated to the cold through a period often referred to as the “hardening-off” process, it has a much greater chance of surviving freezing temperatures. If the freeze occurs very quickly without giving the turf time to adjust, there is a greater chance that your lawn will suffer freeze damage.

What Are Cold Response Genes?

Through research, scientists have identified a group of genes called “cold response genes” that play an important role. These genes are activated when the temperatures are in the 32 to 50 degree range for a period of time—this determines whether or not the turf can tolerate freezing temperatures. If these genes do not become active, then the tolerance of your lawn to freezing temperatures is reduced. If a lawn is exposed to freezing after it has had a chance to become acclimated, then there is less freeze damage. In addition to the colder temperatures, the amount of light that the turf receives seems to play important role in the activation of these genes, which may be the reason why freeze damage to lawns is higher in shady areas.

What Happens When Turf Is Dehydrated?

A good deal of this tolerance is based on how the turf reacts to cell dehydration. During periods of freezing temperatures, the water that surrounds the plant’s cells will freeze. Through the process known as osmosis, the unfrozen water within the cells will move out of the cell into the area where the water is frozen. In essence, the cells will dehydrate. Once the water between the cells warms up again, the water will flow back into the cells to re-hydrate them.

When Does the Most Freeze Damage Occur?

The greatest damage to turf occurs during freeze/thaw cycles that can occur throughout the winter, but mainly in the late winter and early spring. If the temperatures warm up enough to thaw the water between the cells, than the cells will rehydrate. If the temperatures drop below freezing before the acclimation process occurs, then the cells can rupture.

For the most part, cool-season turf generally goes through the acclimation process every fall. The greater damage often occurs on warm-season grasses that are exposed to freezing temperatures without going through this process. For instance, a good deal of freeze damage occurred on warm-season grasses during last winter’s (2013 to 2014) excessive cold weather.

How Do I Prevent Freeze Damage to My Lawn?

Turf is a remarkable plant; it seems to be able to tolerate any number of stresses and usually recovers given enough time and care. It has been my experience that turf that is properly fertilized and cared for over the years will recover from many of these stresses faster than those lawns left to fend for themselves. Have additional questions about care for your lawn? Contact your local Spring-Green professional.

Here’s hoping your lawn survives what’s in store for the rest of this winter! Stay warm, friends.