Identifying And Treating Lawn Fungus

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As the heat of summer begins to set in, the spread of fungus and lawn disease should be something you are aware of as you tend to the needs of your yard. Fungus spores are present in every lawn and often pose no problem at all throughout the growing season. However, certain conditions and factors can cause these spores to multiply quickly, leaving you with a damaged lawn. Knowing how to properly identify and treat a lawn fungus problem is vital to the health of your yard.

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Spot what Lawn Disease Looks Like

Understanding Lawn Fungus

Your lawn is a living and breathing entity, and the fungus spores present in your lawn actually do a great deal to preserve the health of your turf and plants. A certain level of fungal activity in your lawn can be a sign of healthy turf. Lawn fungi decompose organic matter, such as grass clippings, leaf litter, and roots of dead trees, which can then be reabsorbed for a healthier soil. Fungi can even protect the roots of your lawn and plant roots in gardens by producing an antibiotic in the soil.

Understanding Fungal Lawn Disease

When we talk about fungal disease in your lawn, we are talking about the overwhelming spread of certain fungi that will cause damage to your turf, which is known as lawn disease. Under certain conditions, the fungal spores in lawns will rapidly multiply and destroy everything green in their path. Wind, rain, excess debris, and generally unhealthy turf can all spread lawn disease. This damage is characterized by dead, thinning, and/or discolored patches of grass, and the following situations could lead to such problems in your yard:

  • Temperatures between 75 and 90 F
  • Hot days leading into cool nights
  • High humidity
  • Poor drainage in your yard
  • Watering your lawn at dusk
  • Diseased leaves in your yard
  • Overwatering
  • Over-/under-fertilizing
  • Drought stress
  • Compacted soil
  • Improper mowing practices
  • Having a susceptible grass species

Common Types Of Lawn Disease

Brown Patch

Brown Patch Disease
Brown Patch with irregualr edges

This is perhaps the most common of all lawn diseases. Brown Patch is caused by a specific fungus that can ravage both warm and cool grass types. It is characterized by circular patches of grass that appear to be dead or dying, and the patches will have somewhat irregular edges. Humid weather can promote the growth of this disease, with warmer temperatures inviting Brown Patch to invade cool-season grasses and moderate temperatures leading to the spread of disease across warm-season grasses.

Dollar Spot

Dollar Spot Lawn Disease
Two small Dollar Spot patches

Another very common lawn disease in Kansas, Dollar Spot is most active in hot and humid weather. Individual grass blades will begin to turn tan or yellow in color, and the discoloration will often spread to spots of affected grass that are roughly the size of a silver dollar (hence the name). These spots are much smaller than those caused by Brown Patch, and they will often appear to be slightly sunken into the lawn.

Red Thread

Red Thread
Red Thread spreading across a lawn

The fungus that causes this unique-looking disease targets cool-season grasses, such as fescue and Kentucky bluegrass. It is most commonly observed in spring and is characterized by light red “threads” taking over grass blades and causing them to mat together. This disease will primarily affect struggling lawns that are already stressed from other environmental factors.


Rust Lawn Disease
Grass blades infected with Rust

Flakes of yellow or orange, which resemble rust, will devour grass blades if your lawn is infested with this fungus. It can be seen between summer and early fall, and it develops mainly during drought conditions or times of fluctuating weather. All grass types can be affected by Rust, and this disease will quickly take over your lawn and spread spores if it is left untreated.

Treating Fungal Lawn Disease

There are a number of methods that can be used to prevent harmful fungi from destroying your yard. Unfortunately, once a fungal disease has appeared, it will not go away on its own without curative treatment. The good news? Heartland Turf & Landscape offers both preventive and curative fungicide treatments to make sure your lawn always gets the best defense possible!

Our Fungicide Treatments

Preventive measures are always your best option in the fight against fungal lawn disease. We have developed a plan to help prevent harmful fungi from taking over your lawn, which involves using top-quality fungicides at strategically planned times of the growing season. Leading up to the hotter months, we will apply our preventive treatment three times. These applications are designed to defend your yard between June and August, which is when harmful fungi do the most damage.

Preventative fungicide

Curative treatments may be necessary if your lawn did not receive preventive treatments and fungi begins to spread. As previously stated, lawn diseases must be immediately treated because they will always spread if left unchecked. If any symptoms of lawn disease begin to develop, we can apply a curative fungicide that is designed to treat aggressive fungi that has already started spreading. While these types of treatments can help restore the health of your yard, it is much more difficult to treat a lawn disease than it is to prevent it. Ask us about our preventive fungicide treatment today to stop the spread of lawn disease before it starts!

Other Ways To Prevent Fungal Disease

Aside from applying chemical fungicides, there are a number of things that can be done to greatly reduce the likelihood of developing fungal lawn diseases. Below is a list of a few easy ways you can help prevent the spread of harmful fungi.

Aerate - Many fungal diseases thrive in damp soil and hot temperatures. Lawns often remain wet for long periods of time due to improper drainage and compacted soil. Core aeration helps alleviate drainage and compaction issues by poking small holes into your lawn that will improve airflow and waterflow. Ask us to find out more about how our core aeration service can help your lawn.

Practice Proper Mowing Habits - One of the main ways lawn fungi spread is transference via lawn mower. Especially in the summertime, mower blades should be wiped clean after every use. Blades should be kept sharp because a dull mower blade can mangle the grass blades and impair the turf’s ability to repair itself. It is also important to mow at a proper height, as scalped lawns are more vulnerable to disease.

Water In The Morning - If your lawn is watered in the late afternoon or at dusk, harmful fungi can form overnight if the turf has not had time to dry. Watering your lawn in the morning gives your turf a chance to absorb the moisture in the sunshine of the day.

Fertilize Properly - The spread of lawn diseases can be worsened by utilizing both too much and not enough fertilizer. Your lawn will become weaker if it is over pumped with chemicals or even just nutrients, but it will also struggle if it is not receiving enough nutrition. Check out our fertilization and weed control service page to find out more about proper fertilization.

Use Appropriate Seed - Grass types struggle if they are not seeded in a suitable climate. If the grass type used in your lawn is not appropriate for its surrounding environment, it will have trouble growing and become susceptible to disease. We always seed with a climate-appropriate fescue blend that is perfect for the Kansas weather.

Rake Leaves - Diseased leaves falling into your yard and garden beds can quickly spread their disease to your lawn and plants, which can eventually lead to a lawn disease known as Leaf Spot that causes large, unruly patches of dead grass to form. It is important to remove leaves, especially large quantities in fall, as quickly as possible to avoid Leaf Spot.