Lawns are the pride and joy of many homeowners. But it won’t matter whether you have the best yard today if you cannot keep it that way.
You see, lawn care in Mason, Ohio is not just about having perfectly manicured turf grass – it is a continuous learning process that requires you to use all information available to keep the grass on your lawn green and healthy.
That said, one thing you should be studying even before you choose a grass for your turf is lawn disease. In this post, you will get a glimpse of the common diseases that may affect your turf grass and the best ways to prevent them.
What is Lawn Disease?
Lawn diseases are detrimental conditions that take hold of grass in a lawn. Although not all of them are fatal, others can severely threaten the beauty of your lawn.
Many lawn diseases are caused by microscopic living organisms, such as fungi, bacteria, phytoplasmas, nematodes, and more. However, the most common culprits are pathogenic fungi.
Although fungi are dormant most of the time, they become active once certain environmental conditions are met. This means that a simple infection could turn into a full-blown outbreak when the wind, rain, foot traffic, and many other factors come into play.
And because these organisms don’t have any roots or stems, their nourishment primarily comes from the host, which, in this case can be the grass blades that make up most of the foliage in your turf.
Some common lawn diseases you need to watch out for are:
- Brown patch – This is considered one of the most widespread diseases on almost all cool-season grasses, especially Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue. These grasses are most susceptible to brown patch fungus once nighttime temperatures begin to drop.
- Snow mold – As the name suggests, this disease occurs when specific conditions are met. It comes in grey or pink color, with the latter being the more serious form. It grows in cool places during humid weather, which means it doesn’t even need snow to invade your lawn.
- Pythium blight – This foliar (which means it affects the leaves) disease occurs on vulnerable strands of grass and seedlings. Classified as water mold, outbreaks of pythium blight are associated with damp and humid weather and poorly draining soil.
4 Best Ways to Prevent Lawn Disease
Want to know the best defense against lawn diseases? It’s proper lawn maintenance.
In fact, proper lawn care in Fairfield, Ohio can even serve as a primary means of disease treatment. After all, once you restore the conditions into more favorable ones, your lawn grass will get the chance to recover and thrive.
Not sure how you can do this? Here are the four best ways to prevent lawn disease:
1. Choose suitable lawn grass
Certain types of turfgrass are more susceptible to specific diseases than others, but each has positive and negative characteristics.
The key is to determine which one is most suitable for your lawn based on the following factors:
- The climate in the area
- The anticipated use of the turf
- The level of maintenance you can perform
- The aesthetics you wish to achieve
These factors will affect how resistant the grass will be to common lawn diseases.
For example, cool-season grasses like fescues, ryegrasses, and bluegrasses perform best during daytime when temperatures are between 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
On the other hand, warm-season grasses like seashore paspalum, bermudagrass, St. Augustine grass, and zoysiagrass are at their best with temperatures from 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Any different and they’ll potentially get diseased.
Besides the temperature, diseases also commonly affect grasses during their growth downtime. Cool-season grasses grow more slowly during the summer, which means that disease infestations also occur at this time. The situation is reversed with warm-season grasses that slowly become more prone to diseases between late fall and early spring.
The bottom line? Make a conscious effort to pick grasses that grow well under the native conditions in your area to save your lawn from disease and yourself from the headache of dealing with it.
2. Perform proper fertilization
Fertilizer application also matters in disease prevention. Since fertilizers help keep your lawn dense and healthy, they also boost the grass’s resistance to diseases. Moreover, fertilization affects the growth and influences its ability to recuperate from stresses it may be subjected to.
When choosing a fertilizer, be sure to pick products that contain nitrogen as all kinds of grass need it.
However, you must be careful not to over-fertilize, especially when using fast-release and highly soluble forms of nitrogen. Too much of this can lead to excessive stem and leaf growth, making the grass succulent. This increases the opportunity for fungal diseases like leaf spot, pythium blight, and brown patch to take over.
Over-fertilized grasses also need more water and frequent mowing.
Meanwhile, lawns that don’t get enough nitrogen become susceptible to rust, dollar spot, and red thread diseases.
Ideally, you can apply four to six pounds of pure nitrogen every 1,000 square feet of turf grass every year. This can help you achieve moderate and even growth. To be sure, follow the label instructions on the product you intend to use.
Keep in mind that fertilizers must be applied during active growth season, which is generally around spring and summer for warm-season grasses and fall and spring for cool-season turf grass.
3. Cultivate the soil regularly
When the soil is compacted, root growth becomes slow, and so does the grass’s recuperative ability.
To remedy this, make sure that you cultivate the soil through coring or aeration to support shoot and root growth. This can help improve grass recovery rate and decrease the likelihood of lawn disease and insect damage.
4. Keep thatch in check
Although a thin layer (about half an inch) of thatch is beneficial for root insulation, lower soil water evaporation, and soil compaction prevention, too much can restrict water from reaching the root zone.
Specific grass pathogens also thrive in thatch layers, which increases the risk of leaf spot, summer patch, fairy ring, and melting-out diseases.
To make sure your lawn grass stays disease-free, you should perform regular dethatching, particularly with Kentucky bluegrass, Bermuda grass, and Kikuyu grass.