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Lawn Diseases

Moss In Lawns

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Controlling Moss In Lawns

Moss grows in lawns whenever the lawn has become weak and is dying away. Moss can only grow under wet and permanently moist conditions and only in places with high levels of shade. For many grasses these same conditions are also highly intolerable and will cause the lawn to die off and create bare soil which is welcoming for Moss to take over the lawn area.

The cure for Moss will involve making the affected areas less welcoming for Moss and more welcoming for turf.

Sunlight

Sunlight should be increased in any way possible to the affected area, this may involve pruning bushes and trees, or restructuring or moving permanent features such as fencing, gazebos or children’s play equipment. Just as direct sunlight is health to a lawn, it is death to Moss in the lawn.

Another Lawn Variety

If shade is still heavily present in the area where Moss has taken over, then the next best option will be to plant a more shade tolerant grass type in it’s place.

The best shade tolerant grasses are:

Cool Season

  • Red Fescue
  • Velvet Bentgrass
  • Rough Bentgrass
  • Creeping Bentgrass
  • Chewings Fescue
  • Hard Fescue

Warm Season

  • St. Augustine
  • Manilla Grass
  • Zoysia Grass

Lawn Mowing Heights

Increase mowing heights in shady areas, the longer green leaf of the lawn allows the lawn to generate greater photosynthesis under lower light conditions. This makes the grass far more tolerant to shade.

Soil Moisture

Moss requires a lot of moisture to be permanently present or else it wouldn’t grow, even if there were a lot of shade present. Excess soil moisture means that water is not draining away from the soil quickly enough. Instead the soil holds onto the water and this needs to be rectified.

Depending on the severity of the problem there may be 2 possible solutions. For mild problems with drainage, the use of a wetting agent will aid the soil to distribute water more effectively, this includes away from areas where soil is holding onto water.

For more severe soil drainage problems the next option to consider would be to Aerate the soil with a lawn core aerating machine. This machine pulls plugs of soil and turf from the soil, greatly aiding oxygen and water distribution in the soil.

If the soil drainage is very bad and other options are not working, it may be an idea to consider removing the soil from this area and replacing it with a coarse sand or loam, and then seeding or sodding the area with a shade tolerant grass type. this will aid the affected area for years to come by increasing drainage and oxygen levels in the affected area.

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Lawn Diseases

Dollar Spot Disease

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Dollar Spot Disease

Dollar Spot Lawn Disease is a fungal lawn disease which appears most often as multiple small brown patches which are usually the size of a dollar coin, but can be between 1 to 4 inches in diameter. In some instances the disease will be less clearly seen in the familiar circle patterns, and will instead appear as though it is discoloring or damaging a far larger area of turf.

Identifying Dollar Spot

As mentioned, the most easily way to identify Dollar spot is by it’s circle shaped legions, but when it spreads it’s identification can be far more difficult. The easiest way to identify the disease at these times is to look at the damage on the blades of the leaf. Dollar Spot is most easily recognizable by it’s hourglass shaped brown damage on it’s leaf.

Fine white threads can also be seen early in the morning while there is still moisture on the lawn, these can often be mistaken for spider webs, or mites webs, however they are simply the the result of the fungal infestation. These threads will disappear as the day warms up and the moisture on the lawn dissipates.

Turf Grasses Affected

Dollar Spot will infect almost all turf grasses, it is most evident on Ryegrass, Bermuda Grass, Fescues, Annual Bluegrass and Bentgrass. The main pre-requisites for the infestation are low Nitrogen levels in the soil, excessive leaf dampness and lawns which are cut too short.

Treatment

Treating Dollar Spot Disease can be achieved by using a fungicide treatment which will be available for purchase at your nearest gardening store, and following the manufacturers recommendations for application. Dollar spot can also be effectively treated by beginning a high Nitrogen fertilizer routine for the treatment period, changing watering regimes and aerating the sod.

Prevention of Dollar Spot

Dollar Spot Disease is most often prevalent in lawns which are poorly drained or watered wrongly which results in dampness staying on the lawn leaf for too long, the other main factor which promotes Dollar Spot Lawn Disease is a lack of Nitrogen in the soil

Follow the Golden Rules of Watering and water only in the morning, and aim to water more deeply and less frequently. Also begin aerating the turf more often or start it as a regime in your lawn care. The next major factor in preventing Dollar Spot is to always follow a regular fertilizing regime, which not only lifts the level of Nitrogen in the soil (which prevents Dollar Spot), but also increases the overall health of the lawn which can in then more easily fight off any initial infection of the disease befor it becomes entrenched.

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Lawn Diseases

Fairy Ring

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Fairy Ring

Fairy Ring is a name which is applied to a condition which occurs in lawns which results in the formation of circular shaped patterns of either visible mushrooms or bright green rings. Many different species of fungus can create fairy rings in the home lawn, some species will produce mushrooms while others will not.

Turf Grasses Affected

All turf grasses can be affected by Fairy Ring.

Identification

Fairy Rings are easily identified when mushrooms are present and they form a ring in the lawn which can start as a few inches in diameter, and then continue growing until it eventually reaches the edges of the lawn after thoroughly consuming it. The mushrooms will go through stages of appearing and disappearing throughout the year, and the fungus will over-winter itself and re-emerge the following Spring.

In the non mushroom forming fairy ring, the most obvious sign of an infestation is the bright green ring which is visible in place of the mushrooms. The bright green ring in the lawn is a result of the massive amounts of nutrients that the fungus is producing while it is consuming a lawn,

Treatment

Treating Fairy Ring will require several different treatments combined to form an overall plan of attack.

  • Begin watering correctly, this involves watering deeply and less often, and watering only in the morning.
  • The lawn should also be aerated once a year to encourage good drainage conditions.
  • Begin a year round fertilizing regime using high quality fertilizers.
  • Some fungicides, specifically those aimed at mushrooms will also aid in attacking the fungus.

If the Fairy Ring is still only in it’s beginning stages, then the mushrooms can be dug out to a depth of 10 inches into the soil, and to a 10 inch diameter around the mushrooms. When using this method it is important not to drop any of the infected soil elsewhere onto the lawn as this can easily create a new infestation. Always bag the infected soil and place into the rubbish bin. Once the infected soil has been removed from the lawn, the soil can be replaced with clean soil and re-sodded or left to spread and grow over if the lawn has runners.

Prevention

Preventing Fairy Ring from occurring in lawns requires a good lawn management regime which includes good lawn watering practice, regular fertilizing, regular lawn moving, good direct sunlight to the turf, de-thatching when required and yearly aeration.

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Lawn Diseases

Brown Patch Lawn Disease

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Brown Patch Disease

Brown Patch Disease is a turf fungal disease which creates brown circles in lawns which will quickly spread if left untreated. Brown Patch begins as a small circle, or several small circles a couple of inches in diameter, the small circles will continue to grow in size up to a few feet in diameter over many months. Often the inner circle can begin to repair itself even though the circles keep spreading. This is because the active part of the fungal disease in Brown Patch is always at the outer edge of the circle. This often leads to an appearance of rings on the outside of the circles.

Turf Grasses Affected

It is most evident in regions where there is high humidity and most often affect grass types such as Bermuda Grass, Saint Augustine Grass, Kentucky Bluegrass, Bentgrass, Centipede grass and Ryegrass.

Treatment

To treat Brown Patch, you will need to use a Brown Patch fungicide which is readily available for purchase at the local garden shop. The fungicide should be mixed with water from it’s concentrated form, and then sprayed onto the lawn as per manufacturers recommendations on the product label.

In most cases, treatment for Brown Patch disease in turf may require several treatments over a month or two.

Prevention

To prevent Brown Patch Disease from occurring in turf, there are several practices which should be implemented into routine lawn care, lawns should be aerated regularly to create greater drainage so water doesn’t continue to sit on the turf surface for too long. The next best thing is to ensure there is as much direct sunlight to the lawn as possible, this can include pruning surrounding bushes and trees, and finally, it is always best to follow the golden rules when watering lawns;

  • water only in the mornings to prevent moisture from staying in the sod overnight
  • water more deeply – water lawns for a longer time at each watering
  • water less often – reduce the number of times lawns are watered each week

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