Lawn disease should rarely be an issue in a well-managed organic lawn. Don’t get me wrong you can’t control mother nature. Lawn fungus does happen but having a healthy environment for your grass will certainly keep turf disease at a minimum.
When lawn fungus is suspected, the first question you have to ask yourself would be, is it a disease?
Just because you have a brown patch in your lawn doesn’t mean a grass fungus is present. Just the same, it doesn’t mean insects are invading.
Just like any lawn problem, identifying the issue is your first and most important step.
- Does the same fungus happen every year?
- Are other plants affected?
- Is the damage sudden or has it been slowly happening for a while?
Three situations are Required for lawn disease
- A host, which is our lawn
- A pathogen, which are always present in nature
- An environment that we can influence with our cultural practices
What could be causing the lawn disease?
- Is the lawn area always wet?
- Is the soil compacted?
- Have you changed your watering schedule?
- Is there too much shade?
- How about the soil conditions?
- Is there any air circulation in that area?
- Is the lawn moldy after winter is over?
Bagging the grass clippings for the first cut of the year is a good practice especially if you’ve had problems with snow mold in the past. Except for rare occasions, this is the only time I recommend cutting your lawn short.
By having healthy soil with diverse biology and good turf management, a lawn fungus should be a rare occurrence. Top dress a lawn with tested healthy compost and using different sources of compost teas should maintain a healthy balance in your soil. And don’t under-estimate the importance of correct cultural practices.
Lawn disease will generally occur in right environment and a particular pathogen or fungus is allowed to dominate the soil’s biology in what is called the soil food web.
Our lawn care store has all the natural products to help with grass fungus and disease.
How do we know if a fungus is dominate before lawn disease is present?
Unless you’re constantly taking soil bio assays you’re not going to know.
Preventing lawn disease is easy. Think of your soil as a society that we live in. If one particular personality or characteristics of individuals dominates a culture, problems arise. So, to prevent major problems from arising, we as a society keep each other in check.
The soil environment is no different. Pathogens are always present. If one strain dominates, along with the right environmental conditions that particular lawn disease likes and it will occur.
Regular applications of compost tea will generally keep lawn disease under control. Using different compost sources for your tea, ex. different compost supply, vermiculite compost will provide diverse populations of fungi and bacteria.
Compost tea is not a registered EPA fungicide so I can not claim it will cure any existing turf disease problems.
Many times you will see lawn mushrooms. First of all, mushrooms in a lawn generally are NOT edible. A lawn mushroom presence is usually not a bad thing. It’s an indication that fungi is alive and thriving in your turf. If the lawn mushrooms form a circular pattern it’s probably a sign of a disease such as fairy ring.
How do we prevent lawn fungus?
- Conduct regular soil tests
- Maintain a good percentage of organic matter in the soil (5%)
- by topdressing your lawn
- Using different varieties of grass seed
- Correct watering habits Deeply and early morning
- Allowing good air circulation
- Keep sharp clean blades on your mower
If you cannot correct and maintain the environmental factors contributing to turf diseases there are grass types containing endophyte that are resistant to many grass fungus. You can over seed your lawn with these endophyte grass types to help prevent future lawn disease.