Lawn Fungus

Lawn fungus is a very real threat to your lawn. Many homeowners see the results of lawn fungus and assume the brown circles or other odd-looking patches are caused by something like drought, grubs or moles. While those issues can all create effects that look like fungus, it’s important to find out what the real cause is. Fungus can have lasting negative effects if allowed to persist in your lawn.

Common Lawn Fungus Types
There are many different lawn fungi that can affect your grass. Some of them, like Rust fungus, are mild or harmless. They may appear for a few days after heavy spring rains and then disappear for good. Other types require an aggressive approach to getting rid of them. The most common types of lawn fungus that can damage your turf include brown patch, dollar spot, copper spot, pink patch and fungi known as “out” diseases. These include curvularia and helminthosporium.

Identifying Lawn Fungus
It can be very difficult to identify lawn fungus varieties. It often takes an expert. If you have an ongoing battle with fungus, you may have to send a soil or sod sample to a plant pathologist to positively identify.

Chemical Fungus Control
If you don’t want to take that step at this point, the best thing to do is to treat your lawn with an all-purpose, broad spectrum fungicide that will be effective on most types of fungus. These are similar to broad spectrum antibiotics – they might not be the most effective cure for your situation, but they have been proven to be fairly useful in treating a wide variety of fungi. These broad spectrum fungicides are sometimes called “shotgun” fungicides because of their ability to “hit” most anything. If your lawn fungus problem isn’t severe, they will probably prove to be an effective treatment.

Applying a Fungicide
Some homeowners apply a preventative dose of fungicide in the spring, very early in the growing season. Those who are more cautious in the use of chemical agents on their lawn will wait until the first signs of serious fungus.

If that’s the route you choose, pick up a broad spectrum fungicide as soon as brown spots, rings or patches begin to appear. Follow the directions very carefully. In most cases, you’ll be instructed to reapply the fungicide after 10-14 days. A total of 3-5 applications will be called for.

Watering During Drought
In the middle of dry spells, many of us are tempted to water frequently. This is a primary cause of lawn fungus! Less frequent watering, with more water applied, is generally a better rule than frequent, shallow watering. In addition, watering late at night will facilitate the growth of fungus spores. Water early in the morning so the surface of the lawn can be dry by noon.

Keep your Lawn Healthy
The best way to avoid any type of fungus or disease in your lawn is to keep it healthy. See our Grass Guides for articles on caring for the specific type of grass you have. Preventative care will produce the most attractive lawn throughout the entire growing season.

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