Northern Virginia is known for hot, humid summers. In addition to the problems of drought and heat stress, the weather creates prime conditions for the spread of lawn disease.
The pathogens that cause lawn disease are everywhere. Whether they become active and cause damage to a lawn depends on two things: a susceptible host plant and a favorable environment (high heat/humidity with evening thunderstorms). Unfortunately, this occurs most frequently on the thickest, most uniform lawns. Thin, weedy lawns rarely have enough good grass for disease problems to become obvious.
It is important to know that fungicide alone can not control most lawn disease. If your lawn has been diagnosed with a lawn disease, we recommend taking the following actions:
- Bag all lawn clippings until problem is solved. This helps to avoid re-infecting the lawn.
- Clean off/wash underside of mower between cuttings. A 50/50 mix of bleach and water works well.
- Mow infected area last to avoid spreading fungus to new areas of lawn. The underside of a mower is the most common way to spread lawn disease. This also explains why many fungus problems stop at a property line.
- Water infrequently, deeply and (if possible) in the morning. A nice lawn needs 1” of water available to the roots each week. For best results water 2 (1/2” each application) or 3 (1/3” each application) times per week.
These cultural practices are just as important as any chemical controls that can be applied. They are all useful for short-term control of disease problems. Remember though, nothing will make damaged grass turn green. The plant needs to produce new leaves and “grow out” of the problem, which usually takes a few weeks. For long-term disease control on lawns with recurring problems, there are other steps that you should take, with the help of your lawn care professionals:
- Maintain good control of thatch. This is best done by core aeration every 1-2 years (problem areas needs it more often). Ask your lawn technician to make recommendations for problem areas.
- Plant resistant varieties of turf grass. This is not only a good way to limit future disease problems, but also reduce the effects of drought and insects. Bio Green’s elite blend was created to be especially hearty in these conditions.
- Prune lower limbs of trees. This will improve air circulation when summer humidity is high.
- Avoid repeated fungicide applications. Too much fungicide increases the resistance of disease to the chemical. It also keeps weaker varieties of grass alive when sometimes it’s best to let them die back and allow the more resistant, more “fit” grasses to take their place.
- Call your lawn care professionals about the latest preventative disease control chemistry. There have been a number of breakthroughs in the last few years on long-lasting, effective disease prevention.
In summary, disease problems need to be attacked from all sides to achieve good results. If you’ve got questions about controlling disease on your lawn, contact Bio Green today.