Is Your Lawn Mower Turning Orange? You May Have Lawn Rust Problems

Orange color on shoes from lawn rust disease

My lawn was doing great. We enjoyed a wetter-than-normal summer and the temperatures have been warm, but not blazing hot. About three weeks ago, that all changed and we shifted into a normal hot and dry summer. If you live in the Midwest and your lawn has perennial ryegrass in it, you may have noticed your lawn mower turning orange after you mow your lawn. Your shoes also seem to have taken on an orange-ish sheen. This is all happening due to a common turf disease that has been aggravated into activity by a change in the weather—Lawn Rust.

Now, the first thing to know about Lawn Rust Disease is that the spores of this disease are already present in your lawn, as well as just about every other lawn in your neighborhood. The disease becomes active due to the environment, which lately is the perfect concoction for Lawn Rust to develop. Just like a fire needs three components to develop – fuel, heat and oxygen – diseases occur when three conditions are all present: pathogen, host plant and environment. Since those three were all present, Lawn Rust developed in the grass.

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The best way to tell if your lawn has Rust is to look at the individual grass blades. You can usually tell the areas where the disease is more prominent, since that area of your lawn will look slightly yellow. If you scuff your feet across the area, a cloud of orange dust will rise up from the lawn. Pick up a few of the grass blades and you will see orange colored spore sacks, called pustules, in parallel rows on the grass blade. Applying a disease control material at this time will have little to no effect on Lawn Rust, as the disease has run its course and is now producing “seeds.”

Treating Lawn Rust Disease is fairly simple, actually. The best thing to do if you lawn has Rust is to fertilize it to stimulate new growth, and provide it with about an inch of water per week. It is also a good idea to collect clippings for two or three weeks to reduce the number of spores that are left on the lawn. It may take a few weeks, but your lawn will look great again.

For more information about Lawn Rust Disease and ways you can keep your lawn healthy, contact your local Spring-Green professional.

Preventing Lawn Rust and Rust Disease

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August is here, and so is Rust. If you live in the Midwest, you’ve been enjoying a year with an abundance of rain—except for the last three weeks. If you’ve noticed that your lawn mower appears to be covered with an orange-colored powder or that your white tennis shoes have turned orange after mowing your lawn, then your lawn has developed rust.

Rust disease is common on cool-season grasses, especially perennial ryegrass, that often develops in the late summer, especially if there has been a good deal of rain followed by a dry period. The disease first appears as yellow to orange stripes on the grass blades. As rust disease progresses, it will erupt through the walls of the grass blades, releasing millions of spores into the lawn and into the atmosphere.

Rust does not occur every year, but when conditions are right, it can become a big problem.

If you’re seeing Rust in your lawn, it’s too late to apply disease control, as the disease has already run its course. You would’ve had to apply a disease control material three weeks ago to prevent the disease from occurring. The best thing to do is fertilize your lawn to stimulate new growth and mow off the damaged blades. You can collect the clippings to try to reduce the amount of spore distribution, but there will still be plenty left behind, so it’s not really necessary.

Your lawn will recover on its own, but it will recover faster if it is fertilized. If rain is not forecasted, water after fertilizing. It’s also a good idea to aerate the lawn this fall and overseed with disease-resistant cultivars of perennial ryegrass and bluegrass to ensure your lawn is in great shape for next spring. Want some help with your lawn maintenance? Contact your local Spring-Green today!