Fungus Amongus

It’s not a “figleaf” of your imagination, there is a “fungus among us.” Lawn areas are exhibiting “wilting” symptoms even though well irrigated. Turf can show yellowing or browning areas with “smoke rings” around the outer edge of the disease. Red and pinkish “split ends” are also found on turf at this time of the year. Some have problems with rusty orange leaf blades that make your nice clean white tennis shoes orange after a game of bocce ball out on the lawn, this orange cosmetic problem is rust (top picture). Others experience turf with a milky white cast on the leaf blades. There is a “fungus amongus” people but don’t lose your composture! A number of fungi’s (not to be confused with “fun-guys”) invade your turf this time of year contingent on weather conditions and your cultural practices when it comes to turf. Red thread (bottom picture) is usually found in under fertilized turf. The turf growth slows down in August and we’re irrigating due to warm dry weather. Fertilizer applications applied earlier this year have run out of gas causing lawn growth to sputter. The upside is you don’t spend as much time on the lawn mower, the downside is slow growth and low nutrient levels can bring on these diseases that cause cosmetic damage. Notice also from the red thread picture on the left that the home owner could do themselves a favor by sharpening the lawn mower blade, the leaf ends are torn causing both a bad hair day and an open invitation to disease. Whether your problem is Red Thread, Rust, Powdery Mildew (white cast on the leaf blades), or Dollar spot (look for “hour-glass” lesions on individual leaf blades), your lawn might be crying out, “feed me!” Many times simply an application of a nitrogen fertilizer will encourage turf growth and allow the turf to grow out of the problem. Remember for “lawn and order” you need good nutrient levels in the soil, raise the deck on the mower and with a sharp blade cut no more than 1/3 of the blade per mowing. Also when irrigating, try to water in the morning hours, avoid watering in the evening hours causing the turf to remain wet overnight. Finally, if your problem is circular diseased patterns with the “smoky ring” on the outer edge along with a water soaked darker color, your problem might be Brown Patch. This problem occurs during hot and sticky weather in well fed lawns. You might want to consider a fungicide application, core aeration of the lawn (a well rooted idea for any lawn), and pray for cooler weather to stimulate as with the other disease problems new growth. Remember, there is no better time than mid August to October for turf development and repair. To make a “lawn story short”, when a “fungus is among us” your lawn is usually trying to tell you something.