Large Patch and Spring Dead Spot Symptoms Showing Now

Large Patch

We are getting reports of Large Patch and Spring Dead Spot showing in lawns throughout the South and Southeast regions. These diseases were formerly called Brown Patch, a disease that affects cool-season grasses in the middle of the summer.

These diseases begin to infect turf in the fall and the symptoms show in the late spring to early summer as the lawns come out of winter dormancy. Brown Patch on cool-season grasses begins to infect the turf during periods of high heat and humidity and the symptoms immediately show on the lawn.

Large Patch Symptoms and Grasses Commonly Affected

Large Patch is mainly a disease of Centipede, Zoysia and St, Augustine lawns. Spring Dead Spot affects Bermuda grass. The infection begins to develop when soil temperatures drop to about 70 degrees in the fall. The symptoms 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 are 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 overwatered 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.

Spring Dead Spot can take 3 to 5 years to become established in a new Bermuda grass lawn. If left untreated, the disease will become more severe each year. The disease attacks all parts of the plant, but does not kill it directly, but allows the plant to become more susceptible to freeze injury during the winter.

Prevention and Treatment

Following good cultural practices of proper mowing, deep and infrequent watering, proper lawn 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. If you think that your lawn may have Large Patch or Spring Dead Spot, contact your local Spring-Green office to have your lawn checked. They can help develop a program that will benefit your lawn and help to prevent the re-occurrence of Large Patch.

If you have any questions, contact your local neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green.

Large Patch & Take-All Root Rot: Warm Season Grasses Patch Lawn Diseases

Summertime is for baseball games, playing in the park, taking bike rides and enjoying picnics with friends and families. It’s also the time for patch lawn diseases to become more noticeable in yards.

The patch diseases that can affect warm season grasses such as Bermuda, St. Augustine, Centipede and Zoysia, and affect much of the South and South East lawns include: Large Patch and Take-all Root Rot. These lawn diseases are present in the United States where weather is hot and humid. Although it may be too late to prevent these lawn diseases, there is still time to help your lawn recover from the effect of Large Patch and Take-all Root Rot.

Large Patch Lawn Disease

The prime conditions for Large Patch to occur on warm season grasses include: Zoysia, Centipede, St. Augustine, and Bermuda when the weather turns cool and wet in late summer and into fall. Large Patch, also sometimes referred to as Brown Patch, is active from the late summer through the following spring when grasses are growing slow and preparing to go dormant for the winter. The symptoms go unnoticed until the following spring when lawns start coming out of dormancy.

Large Patch disease favors soil temperatures of about 70˚ and during extended periods of overcast and rain. At first, the grass blades will turn reddish-brown and large patches will begin to develop that turn a yellow-brown color. When the disease is most active, the outer edge of the patch may have a noticeable red or orange color.

Large Patch in Alabama
Damage by Large Patch can last a long time. Infection occurs when the turf is growing slowly, such as when it is going into dormancy in the fall, during cooler temperatures during the winter or during spring green up. Large Patch is not active when temperatures exceed 86°F. Often turf will recover during the summer, but the recovery time can take several weeks. This is a disease that can be controlled with properly timed applications of a fungicide labelled to control Large Patch. Two applications in the fall and one application in the spring can offer effective large patch control.

Take-All Root Rot Lawn Disease

Take-all Root Rot will often cause root decline in most warm-season turfgrasses. In the past, this disease had several names; Bermuda grass decline, Centipede grass decline and St. Augustine grass decline. It is the number one disease that affects St. Augustine grass. Like Large Patch, it is more common in wet areas with either sandy soils or hard, compacted soils.

The patches take on either an irregular or regular circular shape. Symptoms start as grass blades tuning light green to yellow. Stolons often turn black and begin to rot. These symptoms can be confused with other problems, such as plant parasitic nematodes. If the disease is not controlled or if corrective cultural practices are not put into play, the blighted areas will remain and other unwanted grassy weeds or broadleaf weeds will move into the areas.

Treatment for Warm Season Grass Lawn Diseases

Both diseases can be helped with 2 disease control applications, spaced a month apart, applied in the fall when soil temperatures drop below 65°F. Following good cultural practices, including a core aeration in the summer, will help the turf to recover. If you suspect your lawn has one of these patch diseases, contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green.

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

LawnDesease_780x200

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.

Fairy Rings

Fairy Rings

If you notice mushrooms growing in your lawn is a circle or an arc, you may be seeing signs of a disease known as Fairy Ring.  Mushrooms are not the only indicator of Fairy Ring activity.  Often times you may see a circle or arc of brighter green grass that range in diameter from 2 to 15 feet.  Sometimes the rings may result in grass that appears dead or dying.  There are about 60 different types of mushrooms that result in the development of Fairy Rings.

Fairy ring folklore is varied and quite extensive.  The name Fairy Ring may have come about from the legend that fairies were dancing in a circle at night and used the mushrooms as tables from which they ate.  In other countries, Fairy Rings were omens of misfortune or evil and were to be avoided at all costs.  The largest Fairy Ring in the world is located in France.  It is estimated to be 700 years old and is over 2,000 feet in diameter.

Dealing with Fairy Rings in a home lawn can be an arduous task.  As the disease develops, it produces fungal strands called mycelium which grow in the soil or thatch.  In the early stages, the mycelium will produce nitrogen, which may result in a darker green circle.  As the disease progress, the mycelium can thicken and constrict water movement into the soil, resulting in dead or dying grass.  One of the best ways to deal with Fairy Rings is to aerate the area to increase water penetration into the soil.  The area will have to be aerated several times over several years to get control.  The darker green circles can be “masked” with nitrogen fertilization to even out the color.

For the most part, Fairy rings are more of a nuisance than a major disease problem.  Core Aeration is a good way to keep the disease in check, but requires that the lawn be aerated at least twice a year for the next three to four years.  Aeration is one of the best things you can do to your lawn, so treating Fairy Ring will help your lawn improve as well

Why are Mushrooms Growing in my Lawn?

Why are there mushrooms growing in my lawn?

Sometimes homeowners become concerned when they see mushrooms growing in their lawns.  It is understandable, but it is usually not an indication of a disease problem.  Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of fungi that breakdown organic material.  This could be an old root left from a tree that was removed in the past, it could be from construction material that remained in the lawn when it was back-filled or it could be a natural occurrence of the fungi that reside in the soil.

Your soil is loaded with all sorts of bacteria, fungi and protozoa that are living and growing and fighting for survival.  Most of these organisms are beneficial and are supposed to be there.  They often supply roots systems with food in exchange for exudates from the roots that the organisms need for survival.  Part of the life cycle of some of these fungi are a means to reproduce; hence they will develop a fruiting body, which is the mushroom.

In most cases, the mushrooms only live for a day or so and then die after they have released thousands of spores.  Often times, mushrooms are more plentiful during warm, wet weather, but can develop in other weather conditions as well.  Normal mowing will control most of the mushrooms or you can kick them to break off the tops or pick them by hand.  If you are going to pick them, be sure to dispose of them in your compost pile or garden waste bags.

If you see mushrooms growing in a circle or arc, that can be an indication of a disease called Fairy Ring.  I will discuss Fairy Ring in the next blog post.

Get Your Lawn Ready For Winter (Part 2)

Getting Your Lawn Ready For Winter Part 2

Southern Areas

Spring Dead Spot – In a recently released article from NCSU Turf Files, it is the time to treat for Spring Dead Spot on Bermuda and Zoysia grass.  The disease is currently active, infecting these turf grasses right now, but the results do not become apparent until next spring.  The disease infects the root systems of the plants, so it is important to immediately and thoroughly water in the disease control fungicide.  There are numerous fungicides labeled to control Spring Dead Spot.  NCSU has a list of fungicides labeled for Spring Dead Spot control. If you are unsure of which one to use, contact a professional lawn care company for assistance. 

Large Patch/Brown PatchLarge Patch, which was called Brown Patch in the past, is actively infecting St. Augustine and centipede grasses as soil temperatures begin to drop into the 70 degree mark.  The symptoms may not become evident until air temperatures drop.  The damage appears in circular patches that begin about 2 to 3 feet in diameter, but can grow together or grow in size to 10 feet or more in diameter.  The outer edges of the damaged areas have reddish to brown borders.  If your lawn has had this problem in the past, a fungicide will help to reduce the development of the disease. 

Northern Areas

Mowing – In the past, lawn mowing recommendations were to mow short in the fall.  This is really not necessary.  You don’t want your lawn to go into the winter period at 4 or more inches high, but you don’t need to scalp it either.  The last mowing should be between 2 to 2½ inches high.  Leaving the grass too long in the fall can result in matted patches of grass in the spring that take more time to green-up in the spring, especially if the snow cover is deep.

Watering – Many parts of the country are experiencing drought or drought like conditions this year.  If your area has been very dry this year, be sure to water your lawn before the onset of winter.  Turf can continue to lose water, even I the winter, on sunny days before the soil becomes frozen.  Turf grasses will desiccate or dry out without water.  Ideally, watering should be sufficient to wet the soil to a depth of 6 inches.  This may require leaving a sprinkler in one position for up to an hour.