Gray Leaf Spot: Should You Be Concerned?


Gray Leaf Spot is beginning to show activity on St. Augustine lawns in the south and southeastern parts of the country. This is an important infectious disease and can also occur on cool-season grasses, Tall Fescue and Perennial Ryegrass, although it generally shows up on those grasses later in the summer.

This disease shows up on St. Augustine when the weather becomes hot and humid. It affects the turf by severely blighting and defoliating the leaves of the grass, but does not affect the roots. It is more of a problem on lawns that receive excessive amounts of nitrogen fertilizer during the summer months, so be careful about adding too much nitrogen to your lawn in the heat of the summer.

5 Contributing Factors:

  1. Soil compaction
  2. Improper irrigation practices
  3. Watering at night – the disease can spread rapidly when it has temperatures of 85° or higher.
  4. Humidity
  5. Time of the year: specifically, June through September


On St. Augustine, symptoms of the disease include leaf spots with reddish brown borders. The center of the spot takes on a tan color and they may grow together to form large blighted areas. It gets its name from the gray fungal growth, that resembles gray velvet, which appears on these spots during wet, humid weather.

gray leaf spot

When the spots become numerous, the entire leaf may wither and die.  The turf will take on a blighted or scorched look. Some patches will develop more of the disease than other areas of the lawn. These spots can be confused with drought stress or even insect activity.


There are disease control treatments that can be applied if the disease is caught early. Once the grass blades start to die off, it becomes much harder to help the lawn recover. One thing to remember is that the grass blades that have the disease will need to drop off. New grass blades that grow in their place will have less or none of the disease symptoms present.

Sometimes customers ask about the amount of fertilizer that is applied to a lawn and ask whether it is causing the particular type of disease to occur. It is a very good question. Spring-Green’s lawn care programs are adapted to the type of turf grass that is being treated.

We have worked with university consultants, product manufacturers and industry experts to put together lawn and care programs that meet the needs of the turf and provide the results that our customers desire. It is never a good idea to try to supplement our programs by adding additional fertilizer on your own. We guarantee results for our full program customers. If you are unhappy with results, contact us and we will work with you to make it right or we will refund your money for that application.

Monitor your lawn for this serious disease. If you suspect your lawn has Gray Leaf Spot, contact your neighborhood lawn care professional at Spring-Green to check your lawn and they can advise you on treatment options.

4 Steps to Help Your Lawn Recover From Brown Patch!

brown patch

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.

Should You Be Seeding Your Lawn This Spring?

big lawn

Occasionally a customer will ask if they can seed their lawn in the spring. For those who live in the south, the grasses that grow in your area are usually not started from seed. Therefore this article is mainly directed at areas where cool-season grasses grow.

In most cases, seeding your lawn in the spring is not a good idea. The main reason for this is that weed control cannot be applied before or after the lawn is seeded. This is true for the pre-emergent weed control products that are designed to inhibit annual grassy weeds from germinating. Likewise, it will keep desired grass seed from germinating as well.

Sometimes a lawn is just in bad shape and needs help to get going again. If your lawn is thin and weedy, it is better to get the weeds under control. Try to increase the density of the grass that is growing by fertilizing it then try seeding it and hopefully your new grass will out-compete the stronger, more established weeds. Keep in mind that it is better to get weeds in check in summer and fertilize your lawn to get it healthy and then re-seed in late August to early September.

Choose a product that has a crabgrass preventer included with the granular fertilizer. Be sure to follow the directions on the label as to the amount of product to apply per 1,000 sq. ft. Determining the size of your lawn care can be difficult, but it can be done using a plat of survey. Be sure to make allowances for landscape beds, pool and decks or patios.

I suggest using a liquid weed control product to control the weeds in your lawn. Be sure to read and follow the directions before using the product. Also, make sure you choose a product that only controls broadleaf weeds, and not weeds and grasses.

Depending on the species of turf in your lawn, you should continue making applications of fertilizer throughout the summer. Bluegrass and perennial ryegrass should receive about 3 to 4 pounds of nitrogen per year whereas tall fescue should receive about 2 to 2.5 pounds of nitrogen per year. All of these grasses do better when higher amounts are applied in early spring and fall and less in the summer.

When late August rolls around, it is time to core aerate your lawn. After doing so, spread grass seed across your lawn after aerating. Here are the recommended amounts of grass seed to sow per 1,000 square feet:

After you have seeded, make another application of fertilizer at the ¾ pound N rate after seeding. Be sure to keep the new seed watered for 3 to 4 weeks. Make a late season fertilizer application in October through November, depending on where you live. But of course, the easiest way of caring for your lawn is to contact your local Spring-Green office.

Tall Fescue Lawn Care

spring lawn care tips

A reader sent in this latest question about his Tall Fescue grass not looking its best. Harold gives him some great advice on how to care for Tall Fescue, a common transition zone grass type.

“Harold, I have a tall fescue grass in southern California, and cannot get it to stay a deep green. I have a few dead spots that even reseeding won’t cure, and my entire lawn is starting to turn a light brown. Any suggestions on getting my lawn normal? I water once a day for 4 min, also. Thanks!”

Dear reader,

Thank you for sending in your question. First of all, I have the deepest sympathy for anyone trying to grow grass or any other plant for that matter during the long drought California is enduring. Of course it is hard to say exactly what is happening with your lawn without actually seeing it, but I can provide you with some basic steps to follow.

First Step: Soil Test

Based on your comment, the first suggestion I have is to have your soil tested to determine if the pH is at the proper level. It should be between 6.5 and 7.0. Having the soil tested is always a good starting point when developing a treatment plan for your Tall Fescue grass.

Second Step: Change How You Water

The second thing I recommend is to change your watering schedule to 30 minutes a week, but provide the water all at the same time. The turf in your lawn, Tall Fescue, is a drought tolerant grass, but it can still thin out if it does not receive enough water. By watering once a day, you are only penetrating the top inch of soil, which causes the roots to grow closer to the service. Tall Fescue is a deep rooted turf, but if the water is only at the surface, that is where the roots will grow instead of going deep to look for more water. Your goal should be to supply 1 inch of water per week to your turf. To properly care for Tall Fescue, it’s much better to water for a longer time and less frequently.

Third Step: Core Aeration

The third thing I suggest is to core aerate your lawn by using a machine called a core aerator. These are available to rent at many hardware stores, rental agencies and home improvement centers. You can also employ a certified professional to do the service for you. A core aerator, as it is runs across your turf, will take out cores of soil and thatch and leave them back on the top of the lawn. This will open up your lawn to allow more air, water and nutrients to reach the root zone. The cores that remain on the lawn will break down with normal irrigation and melt back into the lawn. The microorganisms in the soil will work to break down the thatch. Your lawn does need to be moist to allow the core aerator tines to penetrate into the soil, so try to schedule this for a day after you water or, hopefully, after it rains.

Fourth Step: Reseed

Reseeding your turf after it is core aerated is a very good practice. Tall Fescue has a “bunch-type” growth habit and does not spread out to cover bare areas quickly. The core aeration holes provide a great place for the seed to germinate. You should spread 5 to 6 pounds of good quality Tall Fescue seed per 1,000 sq. ft. I suggest seeding this time of year as traditionally winter is a wetter time for California. I also suggest you reseed every year in the fall to early winter.

Fertilizing Your Lawn

Once you’ve received the results from your soil test, it will be much easier to determine the amount of fertilizer your lawn needs. Tall Fescue does not require an abundance of nitrogen to stay green. Generally, 2 to 3 pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. per year is what Tall Fescue requires. The most nitrogen should be applied in the fall and less in the summer. The soil test will provide recommendations on the amount of Phosphorus and Potassium your turf will require.

I am confident that by following these basic steps, your lawn will respond and look better. If your lawn has Tall Fescue turf that needs some TLC, contact your local Spring-Green professional today!