Lookout and Prevent Fall Armyworms On Your Lawn!

fall armyworm damage

In northern climates, where cool season turfgrasses grow, Fall Armyworms attack as summer gives way to fall. In the south, where warm season turfgrasses thrive, their threat begins earlier and lasts longer. As often as not, by the time a serious infestation is diagnosed, substantial permanent damage has already been done. And with a name like Fall Armyworms, you know the news can’t be good. Even their scientific name, Spodoptera Frugiperda spells trouble, as “frugiperda” is Latin for “lost fruit.” Fall Armyworms aren’t really worms at all, but caterpillars, the larvae stage of Fall Armyworm moths. They start small and grow to an inch and a half in length. Fall Armyworms tend to appear unpredictably in large number, like an attacking army, and they come hungry.

Spotting Fall Armyworms In Your Region

According to an article by Rick L. Brandenburg of North Carolina State University, Fall Armyworms feed on a variety of turf grasses, including Bermuda grass, St. Augustine grass in the south and Bluegrass, Ryegrass, Fine Fescue and Bentgrass up north. But more than just being turf pests, Fall Armyworms have been known to wipe out entire crops of small grains, too. Although Fall Armyworms cannot overwinter in the north, the adult moths migrate there in large number from warmer southern climes.

Armyworms lay many eggs in many different places. When the larvae emerge, they begin feeding and growing, moving in groups as they exhaust their food sources. After feeding, they burrow into the soil and evolve, first into pupae and then into adult moths. The next generation moves on and repeats the cycle. This can happen up to four times in extreme southern climates, where the Fall Armyworm is a more constant threat. Up north, a single generation arrives to do its damage in late summer or early fall.

The unpredictable nature of Fall Armyworms make it difficult at best to forecast where the worst infestations will occur in any given growing season. How can you tell if you are dealing with a Fall Armyworm? The adult moth of this species is dull colored,and has white blotches on the wings, which are about an inch and a half in length. The larvae will range in color from light green, to olive green, to nearly black and have longitudinal stripes along their sides.

Armyworm damage to turfgrasses is seldom enough to kill the turf altogether, but they can make a lawn look pretty bad in a very short amount of time. They feed on blades of grass from the top down and tend to move in a line, like an advancing army. You might see frosted tips, transparent grass blades, or brown areas in a straight-line pattern that advances from an outer edge inward or you might see grass blades eaten all the way down to the crown. Bird activity can be another indicator. Anytime you see birds feeding on your lawn in significant numbers, insects are likely to be the reason.

Preventing Fall Armyworms

Our advice as Your Neighborhood Lawn Care Professionals® is going to be quite consistent: If you suspect your lawn is being damaged by insect activity, contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green at once—the sooner the better. After making a positive diagnosis of the problem, we can then prescribe an appropriate course of treatment. Preventative insect control applications are also available from Spring-Green. A fall insect control application is your preemptive strike against possible infestations by the Fall Armyworm. Whether curative or preventative, as is often the case, the timing of these applications is of the essence to control armyworm.

And as always, if you have questions or concerns regarding any aspect of caring for your lawn, please do not hesitate to  contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green.

DIY Core Aeration – Is Aerating Your Lawn Worth It?

core aeration

Of all the beneficial things you could do to ensure a healthy, beautiful lawn, core aeration is second only to fertilization. By disrupting the surface of the lawn and the soil beneath it, core aeration allows more air, water, and nutrients to reach the turf’s root zone. This in turn encourages better lawn root development below the surface and—you guessed it—healthier, thicker, greener plant growth above. Compacted soils are loosened, restrictive layers of surface-level thatch are broken, and your turf uses these improvements to its natural advantage, growing stronger and healthier as the surface repairs itself.

Virtually all U.S. regions and all common turfgrasses can benefit from regular aeration. What differs somewhat is the timing. According to information provided by Bayer Advanced, the best time to aerate a lawn is prior to a period of vigorous growth, during which the lawn can best recover from the disruption intentionally created by the aeration process. For cool season grasses, that time is late summer into early fall, making sure to allow at least a month of growing time before the threat of frost sets in. For warm season grassses, late spring to early summer is your best bet.

DIY (Do It Yourself) Core Aeration

Is core aeration worth it for your lawn? Yes, absolutely! Is it worth doing it yourself? Let’s weigh the options of do-it-yourself (DIY) aeration versus having the work done by a professional lawn care service.

No matter who does it, the work is performed using a specialized core aeration machine. This is a powerful and somewhat heavy motorized device that drives hollow tines several inches into the ground, extracts plugs of soil and plant material, and then deposits them on the surface as it moves forward. The desired result is a visible pattern of holes in the ground and plugs laying on the turf. Over time, the holes will be filled in with loosened soil, new roots, and grass plants, while the plugs break down and assist in the decomposition of the thatch layer that builds up on the soil surface.

This would be a piece of cake if the machine did all the work and the operator merely had to throw a switch on or off, but such is not the case. The machine operator controls where the machine goes, taking special care to avoid damage to irrigation heads, pavement features, flower beds, children’s toys, and other common obstacles. The operator must also determine whether soil conditions are favorable before commencing the operation. The key concern here is moisture. Soggy soil will clog the tines whereas overly dry soil will be difficult at best to penetrate. Aerating during a prolonged period of drought or excessive heat may do more harm than good.

The application of additional grass seed to an existing lawn, sometimes called overseeding or reseeding, is best done immediately following core aeration of a lawn. Fertilizer applications are also more effective at this time. This is because the openings caused by the aeration process make it easier for the new seed and/or nutrients to penetrate the soil. Obviously the individual applying these materials must know what to apply and at what rate.

Better To Do It Yourself or Hire a Professional?

So which provides the better value for core aeration, DIY or using a professional lawn care service? Consider the following.

● Who will transport the core aeration machine to and from your property?
● Who will determine whether conditions are favorable to aerate your lawn?
● Who will ensure the safe and effective operation of the core aeration machine?
● Who will be responsible for any damage incurred to properly identified obstacles?
● If applicable. who will be responsible for properly overseeding/reseeding your lawn?
● If applicable. who will be responsible for properly fertilizing the lawn after aeration is completed?

When properly performed, under favorable conditions and at the appropriate time, core aeration will most assuredly benefit your lawn, whether you do it yourself or bring in a lawn care professional. With that said, if you have questions or concerns about core aeration or any aspect of caring for your lawn, please do not hesitate to contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green. We have a wealth of professional lawn care experience to share with you.

Lawn Lime Treatment: Should You Add Lime To Your Lawn?

lawn lime treatment

Depending upon where you live, adding a lawn lime treatment to your lawn is as necessary as adding fertilizer or even mowing it on a regular basis. Unless the pH of the soil is determined by a soil test, the fertilizer you apply may provide little benefit to the lawn. If your soil is too acidic, meaning that the pH is below 6.5, the fertilizer is not properly utilized by the grass plant and the lawn will appear weak and have a dull green to yellow color.

The soil in some areas of the US is naturally acidic, so adding lime every year is a necessity. For other parts of the country, having a soil test will help determine if lime is needed to counteract acidic soil or sulfur is needed to correct soil that is too alkaline. The most common soil pH problem involves the soil being too acidic.

Here are the basic steps to follow when taking a soil sample:

  1. Using a clean, rust-free trowel, take samples from up to 10 areas of your lawn.
  2. Each sample should be about 6 to 8 inches deep.
  3. Remove the grass and any thatch at the top and save about 2 to 3 inches from the middle of the sample.
  4. Mix the samples together in a clear container and allow them to dry at room temperature.
  5. Send the sample to a soil testing lab, such as the county cooperative extension service in your community. Contact the service first for fees and where to mail the sample.

There is other valuable information that you can learn from a soil test beside the pH level, such as the amount of phosphorus and potassium that the soil contains. There may be a situation where the addition of supplemental nutrients is necessary. The other reason for determining the pH of the soil is that applying lime to a lawn that has a high pH can harm the lawn instead of helping it. If the soil test of the lawn shows it to be very acidic, yearly tests may be necessary.

When To Apply Lawn Lime Treatment

A lawn lime treatment can be applied at any time of the year, but spring and fall are probably the best times to apply it. The main reason to do so is that is when the most rain fall occurs. An added benefit for a fall application, is the normal freeze and thaw cycles help break down the lime and allow it to work faster.

If your lawn does not seem to respond to fertilizer applications and appears weak and has a dull color, contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green. They can advise on the best practices to help ensure a healthy, green lawn, including soil samples and lawn lime treatment applications.

What Attracts Mosquitoes and How to Avoid Bites

mosquitoes

Did you know only the female mosquitoes bite? Female mosquitoes use blood meals for its protein and other components it contains in order to produce their eggs. Males do not feed on blood; they mainly sip on plant nectar.

When females bite, they are doing what comes natural to them in order to survive. That does not make their bites any less bothersome, but maybe a little more understandable. There are 175 different species of mosquitoes and they have been around for about 170 million years, so they are not going away anytime soon.

What Attracts Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are attracted to humans by the release of carbon monoxide, something we do every minute of every day. Anything that can raise your metabolic rate is going to increase the amount of carbon monoxide you exhale. Pregnant women and people who are overweight have higher metabolic rates even at rest and so do people who exercise or are very active outside.

They are also attracted to movement, so the more active you are, the greater the chance you will be noticed. This can be increased by consuming beer at the same time as beer or most alcohols also increase your metabolic rate.

Mosquitoes can smell a victim from over 150 feet away. When we exercise or are very active, especially in the summer time, we develop body odor from the bacteria that grows on our skin. This body odor is an attractant to mosquitoes. Washing frequently is an option, but so is avoiding perfumes or other scents that can act as an attractant.

Some people claim that mosquitoes like them more, and to a certain extent that is true. Some people produce more secretions than others and those secretions are an attractant for mosquitoes. So is blood type. People with Type O blood seem to attract more mosquitoes than people with Type A or B. There is not much one can do about your genetics that dictate your blood type of how much of a certain substance your body produces. Be sure to take the proper precautions to protect yourself from mosquito bites if you have Type O blood.

How to Avoid Mosquito Bites

Mosquitoes don’t have acute eye sight and rely on images that easily stand out. A dark background on a landscape is easier for a mosquito to distinguish than a lighter colored image. That is why wearing light colored clothing makes more sense, so does wearing clothing made of tightly woven, breathable fabrics that are more difficult for the long nose or proboscis of a mosquito to penetrate.

Some other ideas to avoid mosquito bites is to stay indoors at dawn or dusk as that is when mosquitoes are most active. Mosquitoes are very bad when it comes to flying and can be kept away with a fan when indoors. Even setting up a fan outdoors can provide some relief from mosquito bites.

Use an insect repellant when outside during the day or night. One of the most effective dermally-applied formulations is one that contains DEET, but at no less than 15% DEET. Another product that has been shown to be as effective as DEET is picaridin. A relatively new product is designed to be worn as a click-on container and houses a tiny fan that releases a small amount of metofluthrin.

Reducing water sources is very important when trying to reduce mosquito populations. Empty water dishes, flower pot drainage trays, watering cans, bird baths or any other place where water can collect and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Another great way to reduce mosquito populations around your home is to apply an insect control product or mosquito control application to the landscape and other places mosquitoes like to hide when they are not active. To learn more about these services, contact your local neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green.

How Do Lawn Diseases Develop and Ways to Prevent Them

lawn disease

If there is a disease that can develop where you live, the spores of that disease are probably in your lawn already as they will move from lawn to lawn mainly through wind movement. Some diseases are soil borne, meaning that they already exist in the soil. All diseases are waiting for the right environmental conditions to develop to infect the turf.

Development of Lawn Disease

It is important to understand how a disease develops. The term used to explain how a disease develops is called the Disease Triangle. It is basically the same concept as the Fire Triangle. There are three basic components that are required for a fire to develop – fuel, heat and oxygen. If one of the three is removed, the fire is extinguished. In the Disease Triangle, the three components are host plant, pathogen and environment.

In regards to lawns, the host plant is the turfgrass in your lawn. The pathogen, as was mentioned earlier, already exists in the lawn as a dormant spore. Think of a spore as a tiny seed, waiting for the right conditions to begin its development. These spores can be fungi, bacteria or viruses. The right conditions is the environment that favors its development.

There are diseases that develop in cool weather, warm weather and hot weather. A critical component is moisture. Too much water or high humidity generally favors more disease development. Along with weather, the environment includes the growing conditions for the turfgrass. Soil pH and fertility can lead to an unhealthy plant, which can be more easily colonized by a disease. Lawns that are mowed too short will result in a weaker plant and more susceptible to disease development. Too much or too little fertilizer can also lead to disease development.

Preventing Lawn Disease

The amount of thatch that has developed in a lawn can also lead to disease development as thatch can act like an incubation chamber for many diseases. The best way to inhibit the development of a disease in your lawn is to follow proper cultural practices of mowing high, based on your turf species, watering deeply, but infrequently, core aerate the lawn once a year and follow a proper nutritional program to ensure the health of your lawn. Of these practices, the most important one is mowing.

Here are the recommended mowing heights for the most common turfgrasses:

• Bermuda Grass 1/2 to 1-1/2”
• Zoysia Grass 3/4 to 1-1/2”
• Centipede Grass 1-1/2 to 2”
• St Augustine Grass 3-1/2 to 4”
• Tall Fescue Grass 3 to 4”
• Bluegrass 2 to 3”
• Perennial Ryegrass 2 to 3”
• Fine Fescue 2-1⁄2 to 3-1⁄2”

Proper watering is also very important. Many people with an automatic sprinkler system water too much. Reduce the number of days you water and invest in a rain sensor so the system doesn’t run while it’s raining or if rain fall has been plentiful. Training a lawn to be more water efficient starts with reducing the frequency of watering, but increasing the length of time each zone is watered based on sprinkler head type and size of the area being watered.

sprinkler system
 

There are disease control materials available to treat most diseases, but the control is usually temporary and the disease often comes back. That is why Spring-Green recommends improving the growing conditions as the best approach to preventing diseases from developing in your lawn. There are some situations where, due to intense environmental stresses, a disease control program may be the best choice. Contact your neighborhood lawn care professional to determine the best approach to reduce disease development in your lawn.

Ways to Prevent Flea and Tick Problems For Your Pets

fleas ticks

If you have ever had to endure an attack of fleas or ticks on your pet, you will understand the frustration of trying multiple approaches to eliminate this nuisance from your home and yard. Having had to endure an outbreak of fleas on my dog last fall, I have come to understand the futility that comes with trying to control these nasty little insects.

It required three trips to the vet, numerous baths, extensive cleaning and vacuuming, an outdoor insect control application and “bombing” our house twice before the problem ended. It took over two months to clear up the problem.

“How did our dog get fleas?” was the question my wife asked me. It is a very good question, as we have lived in our home almost 30 years and had two other dogs during that time.

Neither of them have ever had a problem with fleas, so why did we have them last fall? Fleas are a part of nature; for better or worse. I suppose they do fill a need as food for some other insects, but they are part of the natural world.

The same is true with ticks, although ticks are considered the vector or source for many diseases including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Colorado tick fever and Spotted fever. Fleas are associated with the spread of Murine Typhus in humans and three afflictions that infect dogs and cats like tapeworms and Cat Scratch disease.

What are some ways you can limit the chances that your pet will end up contracting one of these maladies from fleas and/or ticks?

Here are some things to consider with fleas and ticks on pets:

Is your dog or cat an “outside” or “inside” pet?

The more time your pet spends outside, the greater the chance that they may come in contact with fleas, especially if other wildlife frequent your yard. Squirrels, feral cats, raccoons, skunks and even other dogs can be the source of fleas. A flea can jump up to 7 inches vertically and up to 13 inches horizontally, making it a champion jumper among all known animals, relative to body size. In other words, the flea has the ability to jump from the lawn and land on to your pet. It all starts with just one flea to start the egg-laying process.

Does your dog go to a dog park or dog care center?

Again, if your dog spends a good deal of time with other dogs, there is a better chance that he/she may get fleas from a furry friend. Dog parks usually feature wide open spaces with taller grass and small shrubs, which are both good locations for ticks.

Are your lawn and gardens properly maintained?

Fleas and ticks prefer cool, shaded areas that are infrequently cared for through pruning and mowing. By staying current on mowing and pruning, you may be able to limit the ideal environment for fleas and ticks.

How often is your pet bathed?

If you are using a topical ointment to prevent fleas and ticks, make sure it is waterproof. The instructions that came with the product will let you know how long you should wait before bathing your dog after applying the medication.

Do you live in a wooded area or next to an area with tall grass?

These are both great locations for fleas and ticks. If possible, keep underbrush from encroaching on your property through trimming. Mow a strip or two of grass as a filter strip between your lawn and the tall grasses.

The other thing to do is to apply an insect control to your grass and shrubs to control any fleas or ticks that may be present. This should be applied about every three to four weeks, especially if you have had past experiences with fleas and ticks. Be sure to read and follow all label directions before using any insect control product.

Contact your local Spring-Green Lawn Care Professional to schedule your flea and tick control applications this summer. I know that I will be having my lawn treated real soon.

Is Organic Fertilizer or a Lawn Care Program Better For My Lawn?

organic fertilizer

The first thing to understand about lawn care and lawns in general is that the lawn as we know is not a natural system. Most of the grasses we grow in our home lawns, sports fields, commercial properties, parks and playgrounds are not native to North America.

Here is a quick summary of the origins of common turfgrasses:

Kentucky bluegrass – native to Europe, northern Asia and the mountains of Algeria and Morocco.
Perennial ryegrass, Fine and Tall Fescue – native to Europe.
Centipede grass – native to southern China
St. Augustine – native to the tropical areas of the Gulf of Mexico, West Indies and West Africa.
Bermuda grass – native to West Africa
Zoysia grass – native to Japan.

Since lawns are not a natural system, they need help to grow and prosper in the varied and diverse environments where the grass is planted. At the very least, these grasses will need supplemental food to grow well. There may be some who disagree with this statement, but the plant needs food and where that food comes from is not as much of a concern to the plant as long as it is in a form that the plant can utilize.

Organic v.s. Synthetic Fertilizers

The biggest difference between synthetic and organic fertilizers is the time it takes for the plant to be able to use it as food. With many organic fertilizers, the process to change it from its natural state to plant form, can take days to months before it can be utilized by the plant. Synthetic fertilizers are in a form that can be used by the plant much faster, sometimes within a day.

Synthetic fertilizers are also more economical for most homeowners as the amount of nitrogen, the nutrient that makes turf green and helps it to grow, is usually at a much higher rate in each bag. They are also more widely available than most organic fertilizers.

Effects of Organic and Synthetic Chemicals for Pest Control

In regards to pest control, the synthetic chemicals have come a long way in regards to efficacy and environmental impact. Usage rates are much lower and focused on more specific pests than using a “one product for all problems” approach.

There are many natural and organic control products and some work very well, while others are not very effective or a large amount of the product has to be used to achieve some type of control. Cost is also a major factor when deciding on using organic control methods. Any product, natural or synthetic, can have adverse effects to the user or the environment if proper safety practices are not followed.

Choosing which method to use when maintaining your lawn is truly a matter of choice. They both work, but you will find that the traditional lawn care programs and products, such as what Spring-Green offers, will produce the results you desire at a reasonable cost and will not have an adverse effect to the environment.

Consider Spring-Green for all your lawn care needs this year and contact your local Spring-Green Lawn Care professional to help create a great, healthy lawn.

Lawn Mold: Signs and Treatment for Slime Mold On Your Lawn

Slime Mold

We have received this type of question from several homeowners, stating that their lawn has “mold” and want to know how to correct the problem. The term mold can mean any number of maladies that may affect a lawn that cause turf to turn brown across the entire lawn, in small spots or rings, or in irregular shapes. For those of us in the lawn care industry, lawn mold usually refers to Slime Mold, a non-serious condition that can occur on lawns, usually occurring in the summer, especially after a good rain.

How does Slime Mold Develop?

Slime molds are primitive organisms called saprophytes. These are the organisms that are responsible for breaking down dead or decaying matter through their feeding processes. There are saprophytes that break down the dead oak tree in the forest and saprophytes that break down dead grass blades in the lawn. Some saprophytes are considered diseases in turf grasses. The most common saprophytic disease is Dollar Spot. These organisms obtain their nourishment from live grass blades.

In the case of the Slime Molds, they only use the grass blades as a structure on which to “grow” spores. The organism produces small fruiting bodies on the outside of the leaf surface and they grow perpendicular to it. Initially, the fruiting bodies are about the size of a pin head, but grow larger as more spores are produced. The fruiting bodies range in color from dark blue, to purple to gray. When a large number of the fruiting bodies develop on numerous grass blades in the turf, these patches can range in size from a couple of inches to several feet in diameter.

When homeowners find these small patches, they may kick them with their shoe and see a small “puff” of a powdery substance that arises from the area. What they are seeing is a release of spores from the slime mold. Finding a patch or two of slime mold in your lawn should not be a source of concern. In a way, it is actually a good thing as it may indicate that your lawn has plenty of microbial activity.

How To Treat Slime Mold

If you find a patch of slime mold you can either let nature take its course as the spores will fall away on their own or you can use a broom to sweep it off or a stream of water to wash it off. Normal mowing will also dislodge the spores. One thing to keep in mind is the spores that fall off will remain on the soil or in the thatch and will regrow again when the right weather conditions exist in the future.

There is one other type of slime mold that will develop in mulch found in landscape beds and it is called Dog Vomit Slime Mold, getting its name from its appearance when still fresh. It is usually a tan to yellow gelatinous substance that will grow across the mulch. Once it dries out, it can easily be raked out or turned over and incorporated into the mulch. It may be ugly, but it is a natural process and should not be a concern.

Contact your local neighborhood Spring-Green lawn care professional to assist with your lawn. They will provide you with the program and products to help keep your lawn healthy.

Striped Lawns: How to Make it Look Like a Sports Field

striped lawn

As you watch a baseball game or golf tournament on television, you may wonder how beautiful the turf looks and how you can make your own lawn look as great as they do. We all need goals in life and wanting a perfect lawn is something one can strive to attain, albeit it is a challenge for the average homeowner.

The first thing to understand is that the people who manage sports fields and golf courses have spent years learning their trade as well as usually earning a degree in Sports Field Management, Golf Course Management, Turf Management or other advanced degrees in the Green Industry. The turfgrasses that are used have been specifically chosen as they have certain attributes that are desired, such as color, growth, and resistance to disease and insect pressures on the grass.

Turf on a Sports Field

The care these turf areas receive is far beyond an occasional fertilizer application. These venues care for the turf on a daily basis and employ many people to care for the turf. Fertilizer may be applied on a weekly basis instead of once every 4 to 6 weeks. Scouting for insect and disease problems occurs every day to make sure damage is prevented or minimized if something does occur.

The cost to maintain golf courses range from a low of $700.000 to in excess of $1,750,000, according to Club Benchmarking website. The cost to maintain a professional baseball or football field is much less, about $60,000 per year, but there is much less turf to maintain. Still, it is not uncommon for a professional sports team to replace the turf, which can cost $100,000 to $250,000 depending on the type of turfgrass used.

Tips to keep in mind

Even after all of these facts and figures, you may still want to achieve that striped look and pattern of a baseball field or golf course on your lawn. Actually, that pattern on the grass is due to the reflection of light coming off the direction that the grass blades lay, causing light and dark grass blades. You can create this effect when you mow your lawn in alternating or opposite directions, but the pattern can be more pronounced by using a roller or lawn striping kit that is attached to a lawn mower. If you use a normal walk behind mower, you can purchase a roller attachment that costs $100 to $200. There are even models that can be used behind larger ride-on or commercial grade mowers that cost about the same. The striping kit is a flat piece of metal that is pulled behind the mower that lays the grass down and bends in alternating directions as you mow or cut.

The constant use of a larger drum style roller is not advisable. Often times these drums are filled with water to provide weight. A gallon of water weighs about 8 pounds, so if the drum can hold 25 gallons of water, 200 pounds of weigh repeated rolled across a lawn will compact the soil, leading to root damage on your yard.

A home lawn is something we enjoy. We encourage our pets and children to play and frolic across the yard, all while the lawn looks nice and freshly cut. Keep in mind that the striping effect only lasts a couple of days before the grass returns to its normal growth patterns, and you would have to continue mowing in opposite directions again.

Consider Spring-Green for all your lawn care needs this year and contact your local Spring-Green Lawn Care professional to help create a great, healthy lawn.

How To Control And Treat Red Thread Lawn Disease

red thread lawn disease

One of the more common late spring to early summer diseases on cool-season grasses is Red Thread lawn disease. It is most severe on Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass and Tall Fescue. There is another lawn disease that occurs at the same time and under the same environmental conditions known as Pink Patch.

The main difference between the two lawn diseases are the fruiting structures. Red Thread takes its name from the red thread-like structures called sclerotia that are produced by the fungus. Pink Patch produces tiny puffs of pink-cottony mycelium that resemble little bits of cotton candy stuck to the grass blades. Of the two diseases, Red Thread is the more common one seen in home lawns. Red Thread may develop when temperatures range from 40 to 75°F. Most grass activity occurs when temperatures range 65 to 75°F and during periods of cool, cloudy weather with long periods of evening dew.

What Does Red Thread Lawn Disease Look Like?

Symptoms are often visible from the street as circular patches of tan or pink grass about 4-8 inches in diameter. Upon closer inspection, the sclerotia are easily visible, appearing like small, red threads protruding out of the grass blades, especially near the tip. Red Thread will affect the leaves, leaf sheaths and stems without killing the entire plant, unless the outbreak is severe. The infection begins as small blighted areas on leaves and rapidly enlarge, covering the entire leaf blade. The affected leaves will dry out and turn a bleached straw color.

After it has completed its life cycle, the disease produces the red threads or sclerotia. In other words, unless the weather conditions last a long time, the red threads signal the end of its activity. These threads will break off and act as “seeds” for future outbreaks of the disease. Mowing infected areas has little impact on spreading the disease so collecting clippings during this period is not very beneficial.

How To Treat Red Thread Lawn Disease

It is important to maintain an adequate nitrogen fertility program to lessen the effects of Red Thread. Fertilization after an outbreak of Red Thread will help the turf to “grow out” of the effects of the disease activity. Fertilizer will help the lawn grow and then the diseased parts of the plant can be mowed off to allow newer, healthy blades to grow. Avoid excessive watering during cool, cloudy periods that may extend the time the turf remains wet. Core aeration and overseeding with improved varieties of turf grasses that are more resistant to Red Thread are another two important cultural practices.

There are chemical control options, but by the time the red threads are seen, it is usually too late to apply a preventative disease control application. Making sure the lawn is well fertilized, mowed properly and receives the right amount of water on a weekly basis is the best approach to take when dealing with Red Thread lawn disease.

If Red Thread is a problem in your lawn, contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green. They will be happy to inspect your yard and provide a beneficial lawn care program.