What Is Dollar Spot?

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If you have ever had to struggle with controlling a fungal lawn disease, you have likely encountered Dollar Spot, even if you did not know it at the time. Dollar Spot is one of the most prevalent and common lawn diseases in the United States, but it is often mistaken for Brown Patch or other similar-looking diseases.

Dollar Spot Lawn Disease

As one might assume from the name, Dollar Spot causes small spots of damaged turf to appear all over a lawn. This disease was once known to mainly affect golf courses rather than residential lawns, so much so that maintenance crews at golf courses devote the majority of their time and resources to alleviating this one issue. While Dollar Spot can clear up on its own, with or without chemical fungicide treatments, it can weaken the overall health of your lawn and expand rapidly into larger infected areas if no lawn disease control is applied.

How Do I Identify Dollar Spot?

Dollar Spot lawn disease is caused by fungi that belong to the Clarireedia genus. These fungi will not attack the roots or crowns of the grass blades they infect, but leaves (including grass blades) will show visible signs of damage. Individual grass blades that have been infected with Dollar Spot will develop lesions that are a pale yellow color, and these lesions often feature a brownish border around the discolored spot on the leaf.

The “Dollar Spot” name is derived from the size of the spots that this disease creates on lawns. Damaged patches are commonly said to resemble patches of straw rather than healthy turfgrass, and those straw-like spots are roughly the size of a silver dollar. If your lawn were experiencing an infection from Brown Patch or Large Patch, the infected spots on your lawn would have a much larger circumference. Oftentimes, the smaller circular patches of Dollar Spot will merge together to form patches of irregularly shaped, straw-colored spots that may appear to be slightly sunken into the soil.

How Do Dollar Spot Fungi Spread?

Mechanical transference is the most common way the Dollar Spot fungi are spread from one area to another. Traditionally, most people associate Dollar Spot lawn disease with golf courses because the grass on fairways and greens is mowed very low to the ground. Dollar Spot thrives in lawns that have short turfgrass, and items like lawn mowers, trimers, clippers, and other yard care tools are frequently responsible for the spread of Clarireedia fungi.

Aside from mechanical transference, Dollar Spot fungi will replicate and spread on its own if there is a suitable host within reach. Mycelium from the invading fungi spreads across the tips of grass blades, especially when there is excess moisture present. This mycelium will appear as a light, cotton-like material that spans gaps between glades of grass, and it is often said to look similar to a cobweb. Any area of your lawn that is infected with Dollar Spot will likely spread if corrective measures are not taken.

What Conditions Cause A Dollar Spot Infection?

Like many other fungal lawn diseases, moderate temperatures and high humidity can cause Dollar Spot to develop. The ideal conditions for Dollar Spot include daytime temperatures between 60 °F and 90 °F, humid or rainy weather, and cooler nighttime temperatures. However, the Clarireedia fungi can develop and spread throughout an entire growing season, and they will overwinter via mycelium in order to begin growing as soon as possible after winter.

The type of grass in your yard plays a big role in the spread of Dollar Spot. Certain species of the Clarireedia fungi only attack cool-season grass types, and others attack all grasses indiscriminately. In the Kansas City area, both warm- and cool-season grasses are vulnerable. The most common types of grass affected by this disease are bentgrass, bluegrass, ryegrass, and zoysiagrass.

Secondary Example Dollar Spot

In addition to grass type, the condition of your turf also factors into how quickly Dollar Spot can spread. Lawns that consistently stay damp throughout the heat of the day and into the cool night are especially susceptible to infection. Because of this, watering your lawn early in the morning, when it has enough time to dry in the sunlight, is always the best option. Below is a list of a few common causes of Dollar Spot:

  • Wet Turf During Cool Nights
  • Drought Stress
  • Heavily Shaded Areas
  • Dry Soil
  • Improper Fertilization
  • Improper Mowing
  • Poor Drainage
  • Single/Inappropriate Seed Type

Does Dollar Spot Damage Turfgrass?

While it is true that Dollar Spot can clear up on its own, this is not always the case, and the damage caused by this disease could be much more severe if it is ignored. Many people find it easy to ignore Dollar Spot because the infected patches are usually only a few inches in diameter, but untreated patches will quickly spread and present a much more challenging problem.

Infected blades of grass develop hourglass-shaped lesions. The lesions caused by Dollar Spot are known to expand and take over the plant when they are allowed to go untreated. Grass affected by Dollar Spot will not die immediately, but severe infections can and will lead to the death of those infected patches of grass. If you want to minimize the damage caused by Dollar Spot, call Heartland Turf & Landscape! Below are some of the services we offer that can help prevent and control Dollar Spot and other lawn diseases.

How Can I Prevent Dollar Spot?

Fertilization And Weed Control - Lawn fungi thrive in lawns that are low in nitrogen and/or generally unhealthy. We will make sure your lawn is always well fed with the nutrients it needs, and weeds will always be removed as we fertilize to ensure that your lawn is as disease-resistant as possible.

Core Aeration - Dollar Spot is most severe in lawns with dry soil, and our aeration service can help keep your soil moist and healthy. Core aeration allows poor-draining lawns to have better waterflow, breaks up thatch, improves air intake, and provides many other benefits to keep your lawn well nourished.

Lawn Mowing - Mowing your lawn too close to the ground is basically an invitation for Dollar Spot. Our professionals set mowers to an appropriate height, and equipment is always cleaned before it is used. Clean mower blades means less transferring of fungi in your yard.

Pest Control - All kinds of different pests can ravage the turf in your yard, leaving you with an overall unhealthy lawn. Dollar Spot and other lawn diseases seek lawns that are having difficulties growing, which makes pest control just as important as any other service. We will keep your lawn disease and pest free!

Overseeding - When all else fails, and the infected spots of turf keep reappearing year after year, overseeding may be the way to go! We use a blend of fescue seeds that is naturally resistant to lawn diseases, which attack one specific type of grass at a time. If you are ready for a lush and green lawn, Heartland Turf & Landscape will help get you there!