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Lawn diseases are different to Lawn Pests. Though there is often confusion. Basically a lawn disease is either a fungal attack, a virus or even a bacteria.

Most lawn diseases are caused one form or other of fungi. Most can be prevented by a proper maintenance schedule, and in particular proper attention to feeding.

Fungal diseases generally attack weak impoverished lawns - rarely well fed and maintained lawns. The main diseases are outlined below, with links to a more detailed explanations and cures/preventions.

Lawn diseases are not always found early enough, and generally put in an appearance with the wide ranging set of problems under the general heading of brown patches in lawns! In the case of lawn diseases, the brown patch is generally a sign that the fungus or whatever, has got hold and some drastic curative action is necessary.

Far better to try and prevent lawn diseases in the first place. Easier said than done. Follow a good maintenance regime - particularly in relation to mowing correctly and carrying out the operations of top dressing and aeration when required. However, even the most well cared for lawns can fall prey to a fungus disease, and it is often the fact that the lawn is well cared-for that is part of the problem!

There is rather more to caring for your lawn properly, than simply cutting each week and watering when dry!

The Most Common Lawn Diseases

  • Fusarium Patch - Snow Mould. (Monographella) Can appear at any time of the year in the UK but is normally noticed in early Spring or Autumn. Small yellowing patches are first signs. These rapidly turn brown if not dealt with promptly. Fortunately Fusarium disease is quite easy to treat.
  • Red Thread - Corticium. Normally a problem on fine grass lawns - especially those which are rarely, if ever, fed. Late summer - early Autumn are the most important times. Patches of pale grass, later taking on a pink tinge are first signs. Sometimes difficult to spot early on neglected lawns. The main preventative action is to care for your lawn on a regular basis.
  • Dollar Spot - Sclerotina. A disease of fine grass lawns - not normally Ryegrass or general purpose lawns. Small patches around the size of a 50p piece are first signs. Unless treated the small patches can merge and cause considerable damage. This is normally a disease of fine sports turf, or lawns which are given the same degree of maintenence as fine sports turf areas.
  • Ophiobolus Patch - Ophiobolus graminus 'Take-All Patch'. This affects fine grasses of the Bents group Agrostis spp, and is fatal. Usually starts as a small bare slightly sunken area which gradually increases in size.
  • Slime Mould - an Algae type growth in damp area on the lawn. Easy to sort.
  • Fairy Rings - are not simply toadstools. They are the symptom of a specific fungal disease. Fairy Ring Disease is rarely fatal in the long term. However it is unsightly on domestic lawns and rather more than just unsightly on golf green - where its spread can lead to a poor play experience for golfers - and a lack of credibilty to the green keeper!
  • Toadstools are often categorised as diseases, but are usually harmless - unless forming fairy rings - though nevertheless troublesome. Most toadstools are as a result of dead, decaying organic matter under the surface of the lawn. The toadstools feed on such matter, and usually surface in damp autumn conditions. The quick answer is to brush them off as soon as they appear. For most, this will be the best remedy. Or you can dig up sections of the lawn to find the offending feeding material.

In general, lawn disease only attack unhealthy or poorly managed grasses. Having to cut grass short for the whim of a sportsman, is not the ideal way to grow a healthy lawn. Professional groundsmen will have their own remedies and ways of keeping diseases at bay.

For the domestic lawn owner, a good health batch of grass plants - around 500 or so in a square foot of lawn - is the best way forward, for most diseases of plants - and animals - can be largely prevented with a healthy being!

More detailed lawn disease information here.



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