Summer’s hot weather and drought risks are over. Now we can enjoy mild to cool temperatures each day. While the cooler temperatures and more frequent rainfalls do help keep our lawns happy, this is no time to relax you guard. Cold-weather, water-happy diseases and fungi that might come a-calling.
And this could spell disaster.
Autumn lawn diseases and fungi usually occur because they love moist, wet soil. Each disease and fungus present in its own unique way. Many symptoms and signs mimic those caused by insect infestations or stress, so knowing how to spot these autumn issues are the first step to ensuring your lawn emerges in the spring healthier and happier than ever.
We’ve put together the details for five common autumn lawn diseases in Florida. Read on to get to know the symptoms, causes and, most importantly, how to treat them.
If you spot any of these issues, but you’re not sure what’s causing them, contact A Green 365 Lawn & Pest Solutions. Keep reading for our tips or contact us to see how we can help.
Brown Patch Fungus
Brown patch fungus is a, well, fungus that destroys tissue at the base of the grass leaf. It looks like soft, dark, rotten organic material. This leads to patches of dying grass, usually in a circular shape with live sprigs in the middle, that’s wilting, flattened and browning.
Brown patch fungus doesn’t destroy the roots. As a result, if you tug on one of the infected blades, it’ll pull out easily. Keep an eye out for dark “smoke rings” that are only noticeable in the morning – this is a sure sign you have brown patch fungus.
Fall and spring are the most common seasons for brown patch fungus to rear its ugly head. It loves cooler temperatures and waterlogged lawns. Its ideal environment includes prolonged periods of rain – or too much irrigation – that results in 48 hours or more of wet grass.
If you have cool-season grass, like Ryegrass, Bluegrass, or Fescues, you’ll have to be more vigilant about brown patch fungus.
How to treat Brown Patch Fungus:
- Dethatch and aerate – this disrupts its environment and makes it difficult for it to spread
- Water only as needed, and water less if you spot signs of a fungus.
- Use a fertilizer ratio that provides the exact amount of nutrients to keep your grass healthy but nothing more.
- Improve your yard’s drainage.
- Reduce the amount of shade covering your lawn (move buildings or cut down branches)
- Apply a fungicide before it spreads. Ideal times: before temperatures exceed 70 in the spring and after they’ve dropped to 70 in the fall.
Large Patch Fungus
Large patch fungus is a fungus from the same family as brown patch, making it brown patch fungus’s sibling or cousin. They are different pathogens, though, so the signs and appearance of large patch fungus manifest slightly differently.
Like brown patch, large patch fungus causes, well, large patches of yellowing grass. Unlike brown patch, blades infected will remain somewhat upright and appear yellow or orange.
Large patch fungus attacks common warm-season grasses, such as Zoysia grass and St. Augustine grass. It eats away at grass where the blade meets the root. So, you’ll be able to pull the blade out easily. If it’s left untreated, the fungus could spread to thatch, roots, and stems.
This fungus prefers temperatures under 70°F and large areas with a lot of shade, moisture, and nitrogen. Spring and fall create the perfect conditions for this monster.
How to treat Large Patch Fungus: The exact same way you’d treat brown patch fungus!
Note! By the time large patch and brown patch fungus are noticed, they can be completely out of control. Getting rid of it will likely require expert resources, like the ones available to the A Green 365 team.
Rust disease is caused by a fungus and occurs from late fall to early spring when your grass’s growth is slowed. That being said, it can also appear when your yard is stressed, like after extended dry periods (so mid to end of summer).
The rust spores are very light and love to attach themselves to St. Augustine grass. It presents as light-yellow spots at first, dotting the healthy green blades. As the fungus spreads and ages, these spots grow and turn orange.
If left untreated, rust disease will thin out your grass. Your yard will turn yellow or brownish (but it won’t die!).
How to treat Rust Disease:
- Apply a slow-release fertilizer to the affected areas. This will promote growth.
- Wait for warmer weather, which will naturally prompt new growth.
Take-All (Pythium) Root Rot
Root rot can affect every plant, though it’s harder to spot in yards. Take-All Root Rot likes to hit when soil is soggy and wet for prolonged periods of time. This soggy environment encourages the Pythium fungus to grow on the roots, and your grass’s health will decline.
It doesn’t kill the grass outright, though.
Take-All Root Rot thins your turf. Grass with this fungus on its roots will turn yellow, light green, or brown. Warm-season grasses are more susceptible to Take-All Root Rot, though it can appear on any type of grass.
It can also pounce anytime during the year! All it needs is wet soil conditions.
If you think you might have root rot, tug on a blade of grass. If the leaf pulls out of the sheaf easily, check its base. Root rot will cause it to be dark or rotten.
How to treat Take-All Root Rot:
- Water correctly and ensure good drainage/irrigation.
- Apply fungicides in the spring and fall.
- Don’t over-fertilize!
Helminthosporium Leaf Spot
Another fungus-caused issue, Helminthosporium leaf spot, is tricky to identify right away. It can cause anything from pinhead-sized, solid brown spots to purple-colored spots to expanded lesions with bleached centers.
There’s no one-sign-fits-all for this one.
When infection is really severe, the leaves turn purple or reddish-brown. This causes a very surreal purple cast to the lawn. “Melting out” can also occur. This is when your grass grows thin, turns tan, and then dies.
Helminthosporium is found all year round in some form. That being said, fall through winter is its most active time. It loves mild to cool temperatures and lots of water. All warm-season grasses are fair game to this fungus, though Bermuda grass is by and large its favorite.
How to treat Helminthosporium Leaf Spot:
- Treat your lawn regularly with helminthosporium fungicides.
- Maintain a grass height of 2.5 to 3.5 inches (without cutting off more than a third of the current growth).
- Gather and destroy infected leaves.
- Clean the mower frequently to remove contaminants.
Think your lawn has a disease or fungus? Call A Green 365!
Managing, controlling, and eradicating these five common autumn lawn diseases requires an expert’s touch. Our A Green 365 Lawn and Pest Solutions, LLC experts successfully maintain lawns all year long. We can provide you with full-service lawn care, treat your lawn for fungus or provide a consultation to help you care for your lawn throughout the year.
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