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COMMON DISEASES

There are a number of lawn diseases, often fungal conditions, that can arise and effect otherwise healthy lawns. Some are brought about by weather conditions but they are largely a symptom of something else either present or lacking in the grass plant.

Diseases that may arise in domestic lawns include;

Fusarium patch, red thread, take all patch, white (grey) snow mould, anthracnose, fairy rings, dollar spot, damping off, slime mould, thatch fungus, yellow tuft, brown patch, leaf spot & rust.

Rather than talk about all of these diseases I shall highlight two below that are generally the most commonly found in domestic lawns.

Fusarium PatchFusarium

Often first shows as a darkened, waterlogged appearance in rapidly developing and spreading circular patches. The leaves may become brown and mushy, sometimes pinkish cobweb like fungal threads may be seen early in the morning in the dew. Fusarium patch will usually occur during early spring or late autumn during cool humid weather, high nitrogen fertility and on poorly drained, thatchy soil. If the disease is present all grass clippings should be collected when mowing.

Solutions: Generally good turf management is required to provide conditions which make it more difficult for the disease to take hold ie regular aeration to aid drainage and make the surface less moisture retentive, removal of excessive thatch to reduce moisture retention and a reduction in nitrogen high fertiliser. Once the disease has taken hold the application of an appropriate fungicide will halt the development and further spread of the disease quickly and effectively.

Red Thread

The main symptoms are irregular patches of light brown or bleached leaves covered with distinctive red threads on the upper blades of the grass plant.Often this disease will occur in tandem with pink patch which is shown as pink blobs of mycelial growth coated on to on the blades. Red thread and pink patch can occur at any time of the year but particularly under warm, moist conditions. Lawns that are shady, poorly aerated with compacted soil and low levels of nitrogen are often more susceptible to these diseases. Whilst very severe outbreaks may kill the grass plants it is more likely that the affected areas will recover over time.Red Thread

Solutions: Again good turf management should make it more difficult for the disease to take hold. Regular aeration to relieve compaction and aid drainage coupled with a regular feed of nitrogen to improve the fertility of the soil will be a part of this programme. If the disease does take hold the application of an appropriate fungicide will quickly halt the development and further spread of the disease.