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Grass Fungus

Lawn Care
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Grass fungus can emerge on any lawn, especially a lawn that is not properly cared for. Most fungi that attack lawns can be controlled with fungicide and/or proper maintenance.

The Value of Proper Maintenance

If a lawn is healthy enough, it can fight off pests, weeds and fungi. Maintenance is an important part of keeping the lawn healthy—mowing and watering at the proper times. Too much moisture—or too little—can breed fungi and pests. High nitrogen weed and feed products may also make fungi worse. Water in the early morning hours—watering at night does not allow proper drying times and allows the lawn to stay saturated. Watering about an inch once per week is much better for the lawn than watering just a little bit each day.

Proper Use of Fungicide

If the lawn needs help to fight off grass fungi, fungicide can be used. Fungicides are used to prevent certain fungi from affecting the lawn. Use the fungicide as a preventative tool to help keep the lawn from becoming infected. Once the lawn becomes infected, the homeowner will need to use a higher amount of fungicide.

Types of Fungi

Though there are quite a few types of fungi, the most common are rhizoctonia and sclerotium. Both cause stem canker, root lesions and brown patch. Brown patch usually affects a lawn during hot, humid summers or when there is heavy dew. The area with this fungus will look sunken in and the brown spot can be up to a yard in diameter. Brown patch is difficult to control, even with fungicides, and may have to work itself out of the lawn. Aerating the lawn helps with drainage, and may help eradicating brown spot.

Fairy ring is another common fungus. This fungus produces a ring of fungi that look like mushrooms in the grass. Fairy ring may not show itself until it produces the little mushrooms. It is a soil fungus caused by Marasmius. The fungus, for the most part, resides underground in the form of mycelia. The mycelia eat the nutrients in the soil, stealing them from the lawn. Once the grass starts to decline, the fungus takes over at a much faster rate. This fungus is also difficult to control, because of the rate it spreads.

To control grass fungus, aerate the soil in the affected area. Add compost or sterile topsoil to the area, and then keep it well-watered. If the soil is severely affected, you may have dig out the top 4 to 6 layers of soil and sod and discard. Replace it with unaffected sod. In the case of fairy ring, fungicides are not recommended as they will kill beneficial organisms that may help kill fairy ring.

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