Fairway Green, Inc
9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14 Hillsborough, NJ 08844
Phone: (908) 281-7888

Category Archives: Lawn Diseases

Treating Summer Patch and Dollar Spot in the Summer Months

There are many diseases during the summer that can cause significant damage to lawns in New Jersey. The impact of these diseases can produce devastating effects and costly repairs to your lawn.

Summer Patch

One of the worst diseases is summer patch disease. Summer patch is a root disease that primarily affects Kentucky bluegrass; it can also cause damage to creeping red fescues and hard fescues, while tall fescues, creeping bentgrasses and perennial rye grasses are not impacted by this disease. Because this is a root disease, it is very hard to diagnose summer patch early.

Summer patch is a disease of hot weather conditions and usually the signs and symptoms present themselves between July and September. That being said, infection happens early in the spring when soil temperatures get above 65 degrees. After infection, small patches of turf form and turn a brown/orange color with green colored turf in the center. These small patches can expand to 1 – 3 feet in diameter and resembles a “frog eye” pattern. Multiple rings coalesce to form a larger blighted area.

The best way to avoid or reduce summer patch is to improve cultural practices, and/or apply fungicide applications. Most fungicide applications are for foliar diseases and require no watering. Since summer patch is a root disease, any fungicide applied needs to be watered into the root zone to be effective. Fungicides for summer patch are applied prior to seeing the effects of the disease. We at Fairway Green Inc. recommend three fungicide applications annually, once per month starting in May and ending in July as a preventative. After the disease symptoms are present, the damage has been done to the lawn and fungicides are less beneficial.

Summer patch is most severe in lawns that have poor drainage and are under drought stress. Other factors include thick thatch, soil compaction, improper mowing and improper watering. First, we recommend managing thatch and soil compaction in the lawn. Thatch is the loose organic layer of dead and living shoots, stems and roots that develop between the root zone of the grass blades and the soil surface. Ideally, this layer should be no more than 1/2 inch in thickness. An excessive layer of thatch inhibits the growth of the roots deeper into the soil, which limits access to water as well as many other nutrients. The thatch layer is also the location for the fungi to live, overwinter, grow and infect the root system in the spring. Core aeration is the most common way to help reduce the thatch layer, because it works by mechanically removing plugs of soil from the lawn. This immediately improves water and nutrient flow deeper into the soil, as well as promotes root growth for a healthier, more stress tolerant plant. Other benefits include increased oxygen levels to the soil, improved soil pore space, reduction in thatch build up, and enhanced response to fertilizers. After a core aeration is done, it would also be a great time to overseed the lawn. Core aeration gives the new seed contact with the soil which produces better germination.

Damaged areas caused from summer patch need to be seeded to repair the lawn. We recommend overseeding the lawn with perennial ryegrass. Ryegrass is not affected by summer patch disease and looks similar to Kentucky bluegrass. Rye grass helps mask the symptoms of summer patch disease in the future. To have any success at incorporating enough ryegrass types into the existing turf stand, summer patch lawns need to be core aerated and overseeded annually.

Water properly. Avoid light, frequent irrigation in the early morning while surface moisture is present. Deep, infrequent watering that occurs between 12 am – 6 am is best way and time to water a lawn. Underground irrigation systems should be run 1 – 1 ½ hours per zone every third or fourth day, while hose-end sprinklers should be run 3 – 4 hours per zone once per week. The goal is to get 1 inch of water on the lawn per week. It is also beneficial to not let your lawn become drought stressed in the first place. Keeping to a regular watering schedule has more benefits for your lawn in the long run. If you would like a more in-depth description about watering properly, read our blog article on lawn watering techniques.

Another cultural practice that helps reduce and avoid summer patch is proper mowing. Because this disease is a root disease, it favors low cut turf. When the grass is cut short it promotes a weak, shallow root system. Keep the grass cut high 3 – 3 ½ inches and only take off the top 1/3 of the grass blade at a time while mowing. Leaving the grass clippings behind also adds beneficial nutrients into the soil and will not contribute to the development of excess thatch buildup.

Finally keep the pH of the soil in a summer patch lawn slightly acidic. We recommend for lawns that have a history of summer patch disease, to be in a pH range between 5.8 – 6.0 just under the optimum range (6.3 – 6.5). When the pH is in the optimum range or higher, the effects of summer patch disease tend to be worse for a lawn. Conversely it is not recommended to let the pH of the soil get too low either. If the pH falls too low, the grass plants do not fully utilize the nutrients from fertilizers and suffer from nutrient deficiencies. To know the pH level of a lawn’s soil, a soil test needs to be performed and lime should only be considered and applied based on the results of the soil test. Check out our blog article to learn more about the pH of your lawn.

Dollar Spot

The next summer lawn disease is Dollar spot. Dollar spot is a foliar disease which is characterized by small “silver dollar-sized” spots of bleached turf. This disease can occur on any type of grass variety throughout our area annually. The affected grasses show white to straw-colored lesions that progress from the leaf tip downward or straight across the leaf blades. A brown border surrounds each lesion and appear in an hourglass shape. The individual leaf blades may contain many small lesions or one large one. Infected leaves become blighted, turning white to straw-colored as lesions expand and coalesce.

Dollar spot is most active July through August each year. Temperatures between 60 and 85 degrees and long periods of leaf wetness from dew, rain, or sprinkler irrigation favor the growth of this disease. Prolonged wet foliage is a key factor to this disease. However if conditions are favorable, activity can start early in June and continue into September. Activity can become widespread very quickly within a few days, and spots sometimes coalesce forming larger areas of bleached turf several feet in diameter. However, injury to established turf is almost never permanent.

Grass plants grow off the affected portions of the leaves allowing the disease to be mowed away. However, because dollar spot occurs in the summer when turf growth is slow, this can take weeks. Deep, infrequent watering occurring between 12am and 6am every third or fourth day is the best course of action. Underground irrigation systems should be run 1 – 1 ½ hours per zone, while hose-end sprinklers should be run 3-4 hours per zone. It is important to avoid frequent, light irrigation as this only promotes further spreading of the disease.

Maintaining an adequate nitrogen fertility in the soil is also important when treating dollar spot. Dollar spot disease favors lawns with low nitrogen, so applying a regular fertilizer throughout the season helps increase the nitrogen in the soil and reduce dollar spot activity.

Keep the grass cut high 3 – 3 ½ inches and take off 1/3 of the grass blade at a time while mowing.

Core Aerate regularly to reduce the thatch layer and reduce soil compaction. Keep the thatch layer at 1/2 inch in thickness. Further, core aeration immediately improves water and nutrient flow deeper into the soil, as well as promotes root growth for a healthier, more stress tolerant plant.

Apply a fungicide. A fungicide is meant to stop the further spreading of the disease to uninfected areas of the lawn. A fungicide gives about 20-30 days of control depending on site conditions allowing the lawn some time to grow out the disease and recover without it spreading further. If the environmental conditions remain favorable after the 20-30 day period, another fungicide may need to be applied to continue control of the disease.

Conclusion

If you are in our service area, and your lawn is showing signs of summer patch or dollar spot disease, feel free to give our office a call at 908-281-7888. If you are in our service area or a current customer, Fairway Green Inc. is happy to come out and take a look.

Brown Patch Disease and Effective Treatments

What is Brown Patch Disease?

Brown patch disease is a very destructive summer lawn disease that causes damage to lawns in the New Jersey area annually. Typically, this disease infects perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, bentgrass, and Kentucky bluegrass varieties of turf grasses. Although this disease is destructive, there are brown patch treatments that will help stop the spreading of the disease

Signs and symptoms

In the early morning hours when the lawn is wet from dew you will notice white spider web like structures on the surface of the turf. This is called mycelium, which is the growth of the fungus. The turf in the surrounding area will look sunken-in and have a “smoke ring” pattern. On the individual blades of grass, lesions can be seen clearly and appear as tan or light brown spots surrounded by a dark brown border, which creates the look of brown spots in your lawn during the summer.

Conditions

This disease lives in the thatch and soil, and can live there for many years even without desirable grass types to infect. Brown patch is prevalent when surface moisture and humidity are high with nighttime temperatures above 68 degrees and daytime temperatures at 80 degrees or above. Rainy weather and high humidity will accelerate the severity of this disease. This disease can form and spread almost overnight; luckily with brown patch treatments you can control the disease.

Treatment

When brown patch disease is active and the environmental conditions are favorable, spreading of the disease continues.  We recommend that a fungicide be applied to the lawn for brown patch treatment; a fungicide is meant to stop the further spreading of the disease to uninfected areas of the lawn. A fungicide will give about 20-30 days of control depending on site conditions. This gives the lawn some time to grow out the disease without it spreading further and for the infected blades of the turf to recover. If the environmental conditions remain favorable after the 20-30 day period, another fungicide may need to be applied to continue control of the disease.  Preventative treatments are possible but need to be applied monthly throughout the summer.

Cultural practices

The best way to prevent or reduce the spreading of brown patch disease in a lawn is to follow good cultural practices. 

Water properly.  Avoid light, frequent irrigation in the early morning while surface moisture is present.  Deep, infrequent watering that occurs between 12 am – 6 am is the best way to water a lawn properly. Underground irrigation systems should be run 1 – 1 ½ hours per zone every third or fourth day and hose-end sprinklers should be run 3 – 4 hours per zone once per week. The goal is to get 1 inch of water on the lawn per week regardless of what type of watering application is used.

Proper mowing.  Do not mow in the early morning when the lawn is still wet from dew or watering because this spreads the disease further. Mow the lawn when the surface moisture has evaporated. Keep the lawn height at 3 – 3 ½ inches in length. Mow off only the top third of the grass plant at a time. Mowing lower than the recommended height increases stress on the plant and can increase the severity of the disease. Also, we recommend removing the grass clippings after mowing until the disease is grown out, because this will help reduce further spreading. Rinse off lawn equipment after each use and keep your mower blades sharp.  Dull mower blades can rip or shred the grass blades which will cause the grass to weaken and be more susceptible to disease.

Regular fertilization. Having a regular fertilization program will help the grass be strong and healthy.  During the summer months it is best to avoid high amounts of nitrogen.  Small amounts of nitrogen are okay in the summer to help regulate color and growth of the lawn.

Core aeration. Reduce the thatch layer and soil compaction by having the lawn core aerated regularly, at a minimum of every other year. Thatch (where disease harbors) is a loose organic layer of dead and living shoots, stems and roots that develop between the root zone of the grass blades and the soil surface. Ideally, this layer should be no more than 1/2 inch in thickness. Excessive thatch can be removed mechanically by core aeration or dethatching. The core aeration process has other benefits as well, such as providing a deeper, stronger root system and better movement of water, air and nutrients into the soil.

Conclusion

Brown patch disease can be very destructive if left unchecked. Being vigilant with good cultural practices helps to prevent or reduce the effects of this disease on your lawn. If all else fails a fungicide should be applied to defend your lawn until the environmental conditions improve. With the brown patch treatments described above, the spreading of the disease can be lessened or controlled.

If you have brown patch in your lawn and are in our service area, feel free to contact us at 908-281-7888 or visit our website at www.fairwaygreeninc.com for a free estimate to go over potential brown patch treatments.

 

Lawn Rust Disease

What is Lawn Rust Disease?

Lawn rust disease is a very common and harmless foliar fungus that develops on areas of turf that are slow growing. This disease can be found from mid-summer into the cooler months of the fall.

What does Lawn Rust Disease look like?

Lawn rust disease will turn areas of turf yellow-orange in color. Upon closer inspection there can be pustules along the surface of the grass blades. The spores of this fungus often rub off in a powder form leaving an orange residue on sneakers, equipment and other various objects that come in contact with the infected turf areas. Every once in a while, we get a customer that calls and asks why their dog’s feet are orange in color. The answer is simple, the spores from the rust fungus comes off easily and attach to the dog’s feet.

lawn-rust-disease

Will Lawn Rust Disease harm my lawn?

Lawn rust is a cosmetic disease that will NOT cause permanent damage to your lawn. In most cases it will grow out on its own. However, your lawn may have poor growth in the infected areas because the leaf blades are covered with spores which block sunlight from reaching the plant. This affects photosynthesis and the production of necessary carbohydrates that the plant needs to grow and be healthy. Recovery time varies on site conditions and cultural practices. The bottom line is don’t worry!

Why did my lawn get Lawn Rust Disease?

Lawn rust will often first occur in shaded or protected areas that have poor air circulation, such as under trees or at the base or behind permanent structure’s. Lawn rust commonly develops during cool nights with heavy dew and light, frequent rainfall. Warm, cloudy, humid conditions followed by hot, sunny weather will also favor rust development. Turf that has been weakened by summer heat, drought stress, low fertility, excessive thatch and shade, and soil compaction will be most susceptible to lawn rust disease. It can be spread by air, water, shoes, and equipment. Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue can all be affected.

What can I do to help my lawn?

There are several things you can do to help your lawn with lawn rust disease.

  1. Water deeply and infrequently to stimulate growth. To start, water your lawn 1 hour per zone twice per week when using underground irrigation systems. If you’re using hose-end sprinklers, water 2 hours per zone twice per week. If these times do not improve the color or growth of the lawn you should add more time to your watering schedule. Increase the time by ½ hour increments. Water your lawn between midnight and 6 A.M. Avoid early evening watering as this increases the length of time grass blades remain wet. Many types of fungus, including lawn rust disease, requires the turf to be wet for a prolonged period of time to infect grass blades.
  2. Mow the lawn frequently at the proper height, 3-3 ½ inches in length and take 1/3 of the grass blade off at a time. Mowing below the recommended height will aid in depleting the grass of its energy reserves, it will also thin the lawn’s canopy and encourage weed growth. After mowing, wash off your equipment to help prevent the further spread of the disease the next time you mow.
  3. Reduce the thatch layer and soil compaction by having the lawn core aerated regularly, at a minimum of every other year. Thatch is a loose organic layer of dead and living shoots, stems and roots that develop between the root zone of the grass blades and the soil surface. Ideally, this layer should be no more than 1/2 inch in thickness. When thatch becomes excessive, the roots of grass plants tend to grow into the thatch layer rather than into the soil. When the thatch layer dries out due to drought or lack of moisture, the root system becomes stressed. Excessive thatch can be removed mechanically by core aeration or dethatching. The core aeration process has other benefits as well, such as also providing better movement of water, air and nutrients into the soil.
  4. Seed the lawn with disease resistant grass varieties to reduce susceptibility. These grass types/varieties should be selected based on site conditions.
  5. Fertilize your lawn regularly to help stimulate growth of the grass plants and minimize disease activity. This disease favors slow growing turf. Fertilizer will aid in growth, recovery and the overall health of your turf.
  6. In areas of heavy shade we recommend thinning the canopy of the trees to allow direct sunlight to reach the soil and improve air flow.

Should a fungicide be applied?

Fungicides can control many of the common diseases like lawn rust. A fungicide treatment will stop the spreading of a disease for a designated period of time. Fungicides will not replace good cultural practices that reduce stress to your lawn. The effectiveness of a fungicide depends on the correct diagnosis of the problem and proper timing of the applications. Fungicides need to be applied before the disease shows up or at the very first sign of disease activity. In most cases lawn rust disease does not reach levels that will damage a lawn before the grass can grow it out naturally. Therefore, fungicides are not usually needed for this disease.

Conclusion

Nothing beats good cultural practices. Proper watering, mowing, core aerating and fertilizing your lawn on a regular basis can beat this disease before it even starts. If your lawn shows signs of lawn rust disease or you think you may have it, give our office a call. If you are in our service area or a current customer, Fairway Green Inc. will be happy to come out and take a look.

9 Ilene Ct, Suite 14, Hillsborough, NJ 08844 United States | (908) 281-7888
Phone: (908) 281-7888