Autumn and winter are prime times for fungal problems in lawns. If you have had a fungal problem in the past even one that’s been treated with a fungicide chances are at some point that fungal problem will rear its head again unless you remove the conditions that promote the infection. This is why its important to keep the bio diversity in your soil healthy and manage thatch levels. Thatch is the habitat in which most fungal pathogens live and grow. And is why lawns that cannot manage their thatch need scarifying.
Most fungal infections start as spores that can travel on the wind be carried by feet, equipment and nature. Some can come from feces and or non sterile material such as home made compost being added to lawns.
Within a lawn there are good and bad fungi. Their function in nature is to feed on and break down dead organic matter but some attack and feed on the living plants. We’ve listed the most common culprit.
Fusarium Patch (Microdochium Nivale)
This is one of the most damaging diseases of turf grass and is very common. It can ruin an entire lawn unless treated quickly. Fusarium is a pathogen of Fusarium Patch also known as snow mould it mostly affects cold season grasses which is why its an Autumn/Winter and Spring problem. It affects Poa Annua (annual meadow grass) Creeping Bents, Fescue and Perennial Rye Grass.
The disease is first noticed as small patches of yellow/brown that can grow up to 30 cm in size as separate patches that evolve and begin to merge together. During wet conditions pink and cottony white fungal growth may be visible upon the surface caused by Typhula Incarnata a secondary infection that appears from Fusarium.
Ensure the lawn dries quickly so to manage this hollow tine aeration and sand based dressing will ensure the top surface areas dry quickly.
Increase airflow and light levels by pruning trees and shrubs to allow air to dry the surface. Application of a professional fungicide. Reduce Nitrogen levels in Autumn and Winter. Apply Iron based feeds to toughen the plants that are under attack.
Its important to treat this disease at the first signs of infection as it enables the operator to treat just the infected area and hopefully contain it. Fungicides take few prisoners they do not discriminate and eliminate good and bad life in your soil. Lawns that are regularly treated with a fungicide tend to become sterile. Treatments will be based on the size of the area so its cheaper to treat early than late as it reduces the need to treat the entire lawn. Fungicides are very expensive to purchase. They require certification to handle and apply for which the user requires protective chemical suit, gloves, face mask and respirator.
If you think your lawn has a fungal infection don’t leave it and don’t cut the grass this will simply spread the infection call your local lawn care company and have them treat it.