During the Summer months, the most common culprits of Lawn problems are lack of water, low mowing heights, and compaction from Summer foot traffic. Often going unnoticed and under-appreciated is the impact fungal diseases can have on your turf during the hotter months. These are often referred to in the Lawn Care business as “Patch DIseases”. Here we discuss the common features and causes of each of these problems, and how to treat them.
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Appears as yellow-colored circular patched about 2-20 inches in diameter. Summer patch can also appear as crescent patterns or rings. Up close black fungal threads can be seen at the roots. Summer patch is caused by hot days, above 85 degrees F, and wet conditions. Symptoms appear in late Summer, and persist on poorly drained compacted soils. Low mowing height and high soil pH levels also favor the development of this disease. Aerating to reduce soil compaction, planting shade trees and plants & adjusting soil pH below 6.5 can help alleviate the symptoms of Summer Patch.
Another disease that is closely related to close mowing heights and hot temperatures. It appears as circular patches up to several feet across, that fade to light brown in color. Gray smoke rings may be observed in the early morning, along with tan lesions on leaf blades. High Nitrogen Levels increase its severity, as well as prolonged rainy weather. Aerating compacted soil to aid in drainage, improving circulation, and decreasing Nitrogen use can aid in correcting this problem from your lawn.
Dollar Spot can be a Spring or Summer problem, and is not technically a “Patch Disease”. It is, however, a very common fungal disease that is found in Summer, and is difficult to treat. It is found on closely mown turf like the other Summer diseases and favors cool-season grasses like perennial Rye. The ideal conditions include warm days with cool nights, prolonged wetness, high humidity, with one difference being it thrives in low, rather than in high Nitrogen environments. It is seen as small “Silver Dollar” sized patches of bleach turf, that can coalesce, or blend into each other.
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As discussed above, all of these aforementioned diseases share some common conditions that can be corrected through cultural changes to help minimize the use of chemical intervention. Aeration to reduce compaction, avoid late evening watering, maintain balanced pH and Nitrogen levels, and plant tolerant cultivars of grass seed to reduce the occurrence of these Summer diseases. There are times however that a Fungicide is required to effectively control some Fungal problems in the lawn. In this case, the problem will need to be correctly identified by a professional, and an appropriate restricted-use Fungicide selected for treatment. If you suspect a Fungal disease has invaded your lawn, call us at (860) 222-7171 for a free diagnosis and care plan. or fill out the form below to schedule an appointment with us.