Curing Your Lawn of Pesky Lawn Fungus

Grey Leaf Spot

There are two main fungal problems to look out for during the summer in Tallahassee. The first and most prominent is Grey Leaf Spot which is caused by the fungus Pyricularia Grisea. It shows up on St. Augustine & Centipede grass as tan spots with a dark border, and it can be found after periods of heavy rain. Add humidity and the spots will change, producing fuzzy, grey fungal spores in their place. Eventually, this unsightly fungus causes the afflicted blades of grass to die back from the tip, leaving patches of damaged, yellow grass in its wake. Because fungal spores spread readily via wind and water, you’ll notice that the affected patches spread quickly, with the entire lawn sometimes being impacted in a few short weeks.


Brown Patch

he next fungal problem to look out for this summer is Brown Patch. It’s caused by the fungus Rhizoctonia, which can be found year-round in Tallahassee. So it is possible to get Brown Patch & Grey Leaf Spot in any season or any month, even Winter! Once it gets started, this disease spreads rapidly with damage appearing as round patches of dead grass, often surrounded by a darker ring; affected grass will often appear to have been melted! This fungus is highly mobile and has the potential to destroy your entire yard if you don’t apply a fungicide immediately! It’s important to act fast, as soon as you see signs of either Brown Patch or Grey Leaf Spot, in order to stop the spread of the disease before it gets out of hand. 

Centipede Decline 

Centipede Decline is the problem as the grass gradually deteriorates and is replaced by weeds or other grasses. Frequently, the grass greens up in early spring and gradually turns off color, wilts and dies. These areas may initially be less than 1 foot in diameter, but by mid-summer may have expanded to 3 to 6 feet in diameter. Individual areas may coalesce to produce large irregular shaped patterns of wilted and discolored turf. Such areas resemble centipede grass suffering from drought conditions. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Centipede decline currently.

So, What Can You Do?

First, it’s important to make sure you are mowing your lawn properly to help prevent spreading disease. Make sure your mower blades are as sharp as possible! After mowing your lawn, pluck a blade of grass to check its edge; is the cut edge smooth and straight across or jagged and torn?

If it’s jagged, it’s time to bring the blades in for sharpening! Another thing to keep in mind is the height at which you’re trimming your lawn; in reality, MOST people are cutting their lawn way too short. For entipede grass, you want to trim the blades of grass to about 2.5 inches. For St. Augustine grass, don’t go any lower than 3 inches! You’d be surprised by how much of a difference this can make. “Scalping” your grass is a sure-fire way to stress it out, making it more susceptible to a menagerie of gnarly diseases.

Another important step in maintaining a healthy and resilient lawn is proper fertilization! Nutrient-deficient grass is much more likely to fall prey to insects and diseases. Regular applications of non-burning, organic fertilizer will ensure that your lawn gets the key nutrients it needs to endure our brutal summers.

As soon as you notice fungal problems in your lawn, it’s time to apply a fungicide. We recommend using Fertilome Broad Spectrum fungicide for Grey Leaf Spot. This product must be reapplied every 10-14 days during the humid season. For Brown Patch, apply our ready-to-spray Systemic Fungicide every 14 days until the problem subsides. As long as you follow the instructions and reapply regularly, these products should keep that grotesque lawn fungus under control all summer long!

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