Here in North Texas, homeowners struggle with a variety of lawn care problems throughout the year. Most commonly, your lawn may be faced with the growth of fungal disease, general lawn stress, and weed infestation.
Many of these problems are seasonal, and can be protected against or treated if symptoms are recognized in their early stages, before your lawn becomes overly exhausted or damaged beyond repair.
As we enter into the cooling fall and winter months, fungal diseases become a greater threat to our lawns. Cooling temperatures and an increase in rainfall create the perfect atmosphere for fungal diseases to take root in our lawns, and wreak havoc on the health, sustainability, and overall appearance of our turfgrass.
Although there are many fungal diseases our lawns can fall victim to, the two most common types you’re likely to encounter are Take All Root Rot (TARR) and Brown Patch. These two fungi thrive in the turfgrass you most often encounter here in North Texas, and should be guarded against as the fall season approaches.
Take All Root Rot (TARR)
This particular fungus most commonly affects Bermuda, Zoysia, and St. Augustine grasses, three of the most common turfgrasses you’re likely to encounter in a North Texas Lawn. Other susceptible grasses may include centipede grass, fescue, and rye. TARR, like many other fungal diseases, is most likely to begin to grow in cool, moist temperatures.
This means that in fall and winter as our temperatures begin to drop, and rainfall increases, our lawns become particularly vulnerable to this disease.
TARR will take advantage of these cooler months and begin to spread throughout your plant life, but likely won’t show symptoms in your lawn until late spring or summer, as temperatures rise. As your lawn moves out of dormancy in spring, your leaf blades may begin to turn chlorotic, which means patches of your lawn will appear yellow, or pale green. This particular symptom can be easily mistaken for chinch bug damage, or nutrient deficiency in your grass.
If your lawn is in fact infected with TARR, the main difference to take note of is the non-uniform pattern in which this discoloration and rot will spread in your lawn. The leaf blades will turn from yellow to brown, and continue to spread in an irregular pattern across your lawn, rather than in a more simple circular pattern in a well defined space. Soon, as the fungus sets in, you will be able to easily remove large patches of your lawn by hand.
If left untreated, this disease has the capacity to kill off your entire lawn, and should be taken seriously.
Although most all turfgrasses in N Texas are susceptible to Brown Patch, we most commonly see this disease in St. Augustine, Bermuda, Fescue, and Rye grasses. Unlike TARR, brown patch most commonly occurs in moist and warm temperatures, and will be the biggest threat to your lawn in the spring and summer months, although symptoms can appear as early as fall.
Overwatering or an especially high volume of rainfall during our warmer months can encourage this fungus to grow, so be careful to monitor your irrigation systems as temperatures begin to rise in the spring.
Although the disease will eventually present itself in large brown patches in your lawn, the first symptoms will appear with a yellowing and wilting of the leaf blades, typically in a circular pattern. These patches may vary in size, and can generally grow to around three feet in diameter.
Oftentimes as these patches continue to grow, small patches of healthy grass will sprout in the center, giving them a donut shaped appearance. As the disease progresses, you may see a greying of the grass on the outer perimeter of these circles, which can make this disease more easily distinguishable from other common infections in your lawn.
Aside from the specific stressors of disease in our lawns, there are other general stress factors our lawns can experience that will hinder their growth and sustainability. Shade stress, iron chlorosis, and drought stress are among the more common stressors your lawn is likely to face here in North Texas.
Shade stress, or lack of sunlight, will leave our turf grass brown, thinning, and more susceptible to infestation, weed growth, and disease. This may seem obvious to the average homeowner, but there are some common misconceptions about the average amount of sunlight required for our turfgrass.
Here in North Texas many of our most common grasses require more sun exposure than most. Bermuda grass, for example, requires a minimum of 10-12 hours of sunlight per day to grow to its full potential. This means in largely shaded areas of your lawn, Bermuda grass will likely thin and wilt with limited sun exposure.
Another common misconception is that St. Augustine, another very common grass here in North Texas, grows well in shade. This is untrue. Although St. Augustine requires far less sun exposure than Bermuda, it too has a daily minimum requirement of sunlight.
Most lawn care specialists recommend a 4-6 hour minimum exposure to direct sunlight, as well as an additional exposure to indirect sunlight throughout the day.
Iron Chlorosis is an iron deficiency in our turfgrass that is difficult to correct, and can be caused by ill nourished soil. This stressor can be most easily identified as a patchwork of yellowing lines and streaks in your lawn.
If untreated, iron chlorosis will continue to spread, potentially resulting in an entirely yellow lawn.
At its most extreme, grass blades can turn into such a light yellow color that they appear white. This is important to look out for in North Texas as it most commonly affects St. Augustine grass. Iron chlorosis most often affects our lawns in the hot summer months here, and especially in an environment with too much moisture.
Once again, overwatering your lawn can worsen the potential of this stressor, so it is important to monitor and adjust irrigation systems seasonally, as we experience changes in climate and rainfall.
Drought Stress occurs in our lawns when our actively growing plant life isn’t receiving the irrigation or seasonal rainfall necessary to sustain healthy growth and maintenance. This is a common problem in the hot summer months we experience here in North Texas, and can greatly damage our lawns.
When our lawn is experiencing drought stress, large patches of our turf grass will grow thin, lose color, or even turn brown. Footprints or tracks will remain imprinted in our lawns as our plant life loses its strength. Bermuda grass has a relatively high tolerance to drought stress. Although we may see this grass lose color or brown, this can simply mean it has become dormant due to lack of sufficient irrigation or rainfall, and it can return to a healthier state.
St. Augustine has a moderate resistance, but unlike Bermuda, this grass cannot go dormant when experiencing a lack of water. If this grass is exposed to drought stress for an extended period of time, it may not be able to be recovered as easily as Bermuda, if at all.
Weeds cause a variety of problems for a homeowner, not the least of which is their unsightly appearance in our lawns. Weeds, like turf grass, are living breathing plants, and require water, nutrients, and sunlight to grow. As they set into our lawns, they damage our grass by stealing these key ingredients for health and sustainability from the surrounding plant life, and can leave our lawns malnourished, weak, and more susceptible to disease.
Identifying what kind of weeds you have is vital to proper treatment. Most commonly, you’ll be dealing with either broadleaf weeds, or grassy weeds.
Read our guide on common weeds in Dallas for help with identification, symptoms, and treatments of these weeds.
How Gecko Green Can Help
There are many steps we can take to protect our lawns from common stressors in the DFW area, but maintaining a healthy, thriving lawn is the best prevention plan when it comes to fungal infection, lawn stress, and weed infestation. Here at Gecko Green, we provide monthly, annual, and topical services to ensure that our customers lawn care needs are met year round.
Aside from prevention, Gecko Green also provides round the clock on call services to our customers as needed, and can help you manage any lawn care problems as they arise. Our expertly trained and locally based technicians are readily available, call us for a free lawn care consultation today!