Revive Your Lawn: Beating Lawn Disease in South Central PA
When it comes to maintaining a lush and vibrant lawn in South Central Pennsylvania, the battle against fungal lawn disease can be challenging. These pesky fungi can quickly turn your green lawn into a patchy nightmare.
Understanding the causes and implementing preventive measures is key to keeping your lawn healthy and disease-free.
Understanding Fungal Lawn Diseases
What causes lawn disease in your south central PA lawn?
The lawn diseases we’re talking about are fungal and thrive in specific environmental conditions, with moisture and humidity major contributing factors.
While this spring has been cool and dry, our summers, with their high humidity and string of hot days combined with frequent rainfall, create the perfect breeding ground for these fungal lawn diseases to thrive.
6 Lawn Diseases That Affect South Central PA
A lawn disease indicates something is missing or using too much of something that causes the disease. The main culprits of lawn disease are
- Long periods of high heat and humidity
- Humid and warm nighttime temperatures
- Too much rain that doesn’t soak into the ground or evaporate but lays on the turfgrass
- Certain turfgrass species are prone to fungal lawn diseases.
At Tomlinson Bomberger, we recommend you call us as soon as you see any of the following lawn disease symptoms. While most of these fungal diseases will go away independently, some need a fungicide to stop the disease from spreading.
Six lawn diseases affect Berks, Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, and York Counties’ residential lawns:
- Brown patch – If areas of your lawn have a circular pattern and are brownish-yellow, it’s probably brown patch. You’ll see this disease mid-summer when nighttime temperatures don’t drop below 68°F with high humidity.
- Dollar Spot – If you have silver dollar-sized brown patches throughout your lawn, you probably have dollar spot. Dollar spot has a bleached white or light tan appearance.
This pathogen lives in lawns with too much thatch. Warmer spring temperatures activate dollar spot, and your turfgrass becomes infected on those days with heavy dew (over eight hours) with temperatures ranging from 55°F to 80°F.
- Fairy ring – This lawn disease appears with mushrooms forming a circle or semi-circle on your lawn. You may also have a darkened green ring with mushrooms or a dark green ring with a circle of dead grass and mushrooms.
- Leaf spot – Ryegrass and tall fescue grasses are susceptible to leaf spot. Leaf spot appears like brown spots on grass blades that turn necrotic and can kill your turfgrass.
Leaf spot attacks turfgrass seedlings after overseeding a lawn, and the disease can kill young turf.
- Powdery mildew – Powdery mildew affects turfgrass after long periods of warm summer nights and cloudy days. Also, overnight water sitting on turfgrass blades can cause powdery mildew, especially with high humidity and in a shady location.
Powdery mildew has a chalk-white appearance and sometimes has a cobweb of mycelium in the center. Fortunately, powdery mildew won’t kill your turfgrass; it only makes the turf look unsightly.
- Red thread – If you see red or pink “threads” on your turfgrass, you may have red thread disease. Low nitrogen levels in the soil contribute to red thread lawn disease.
Red thread won’t cause long-lasting damage to your lawn but will continue to look red or pink until the disease disappears.
Allow your turfgrass to dry out if it has a lawn disease caused by humid or wet conditions. Most of these diseases will disappear after several mows. Ensure you throw away grass clippings with lawn diseases to stop the spread.
Keeping Your South Central PA Yard Green and Healthy: Effective Strategies to Prevent Lawn Diseases
Proper lawn care practices are essential to prevent fungal lawn diseases. Regular lawn maintenance also helps you have a healthy, green lawn throughout the summer.
Here are five tips to prevent lawn diseases on your south central PA lawn:
- Mowing your lawn correctly helps prevent lawn diseases.
Ensure your mower has sharp blades, and raise your lawn mower to only take 1”-2” off the top of your turf each time you mow.
Leaving your turfgrass to grow taller promotes air circulation and discourages fungal growth. Also, only mow your lawn after the dew has dried off before the hottest part of the day. Mid-morning or early evening are the best times to mow your lawn.
- Adequately watering your lawn plays a significant role in preventing lawn diseases.
You don’t want to sprinkle your lawn every night, but instead, your yard needs a deep soaking once or twice a week, which equates to 1” to 2” of water.
If it rains on any given week, you subtract that total from the 1” to 2” of weekly watering, which gives you the amount of water you need to provide for that particular week.
If it rains 1” to 2” or more, you won’t have to water for that week.
Many homeowners install in-ground lawn sprinklers or put out soaker hoses on their lawns to keep their turfgrass adequately watered.
You can put a timer on your soaker hoses to turn off after a specific time. And a lawn sprinkler system with a moisture sensor will turn off after the soil receives enough water.
- Clear up any yard drainage problems.
As you know, many fungal lawn diseases occur because of too much moisture on turfgrass. Poor yard drainage can also cause lawn disease.
If you have ponding in any part of your property when it rains, you want to add a rain garden or some other yard drainage so the water percolates into the ground after a heavy rainstorm.
- Ease up on the lawn fertilizer.
Too much fertilizer, combined with too much moisture, can lead to lawn disease. Only use the amount of fertilizer recommended on the bag, or hire a lawn care service to provide fertilizing services for your lawn.
- Provide yearly lawn maintenance care.
Every two years, you should get your lawn core aerated to relieve soil compaction, and if your lawn develops too much thatch, ensure that it gets dethatched in the in-between years of aerating it.
When you aerate or dethatch your lawn, you create more air circulation and sunlight to reach your turfgrass and the soil.
LebanonTurf.com, Diseases: Brown Patch.
Ibid, Diseases: Dollar Spot.
Ibid, Diseases: Gray Leaf Spot.
Ibid, Identifying and Preventing Common Lawn Diseases.