Throughout the year, homeowners in North Texas face a variety of lawn care issues. Most commonly, fungal disease, general lawn stress, and weed infestation can affect your lawn. Read on for tips and tricks on how to get your best lawn yet!
As the weather cools, fungal diseases become a greater threat to your lawn. Cool temperatures and increased rainfall provide the ideal environment for fungal diseases to establish themselves in our lawns. The two most common fungi in North Texas are Take All Root Rot and Brown Patch. See how to combat these issues below.
Take All Root Rot (TARR)
Take all root rot is caused by a fungus, Gaeumannomyces graminis, that lives in the soil. This disease can cause turf grass to become weak, brown, and can even cause death to your grass. In North Texas, this disease wreaks havoc on St. Augustine and Bermuda Grass.
Our detailed guide on common lawn care problems has more information on TARR and it mentions that “if left untreated, this TARR disease has the capacity to kill off your entire lawn and should be taken seriously.”
The most effective way to prevent TARR is to properly care for the grass. Any stresses to turf grass can become a serious problem due to unfavorable environmental conditions and improper management.
Making sure the grass gets enough sunlight, that aerations are done when the soil is compacted, that there are no extreme temperatures, that there is adequate irrigation, and that the mowing height and frequency are correct will all help to keep this disease at bay.
If take-all root rot has infested your lawn, there are a few things you can do. First, a high-quality fungicide specifically labeled for TARR control, applied every two weeks in the Spring and every 4 weeks in the Fall will be the most effective treatment.
Next, topdressing affected areas with high-quality, mushroom compost as well as aerating the turf can be extremely beneficial. Lastly, try lowering rates of Nitrogen and increasing micronutrients and Potassium Magnesium in these areas.
Brown Patch is caused by a strain of fungus called Rhizoctonia solani that attacks cool-season lawns in late spring through early fall. This fungus is sometimes very difficult to identify.
However, some of the symptoms include tan, brown, yellow, or orange circular patches that range from a few inches to a few feet wide. Furthermore, if your lawn is cut higher than 1 inch, you might see what looks like a spiderweb on the blades.
However, it is not a spiderweb; it is mycelium (a cottony fungal growth) and may look similar to the image below. If you see this, take immediate action.
The most effective ways to prevent brown patch are to ensure that your soil is well-drained and has good airflow, has ample sunlight, your soil pH level is above 6.0, and similar to TARR, lowering Nitrogen and increasing micronutrients and Potassium Magnesium will be beneficial. Another good tip is to make sure you water before 10 a.m. so that the grass has time to dry properly.
If brown patch has infested your lawn, there are some actions you can take to treat it. The first step would be to choose a fungicide.
There are liquid and granular fungicides available, and you should choose one based on your grass type that helps control brown patch (it will be on the label). Next, scheduling an aeration can help with poor airflow as well as compacted soil.
Lastly, mowing the lawn to the correct height for your grass type, removing the clippings when it is humid, and not mowing unless the grass is dry will all help to not spread the disease.
Gray Leaf Spot
Gray Leaf Spot is caused by a fungus, Pyricularia grisea, that occurs most commonly on St. Augustine grass. However, this fungus can infect other plants and grasses as well.
It typically presents with small brown spots that can grow rapidly into large, oblong spots and encompass the entire leaf, often resulting in death to the grass. Spots are typically tan in color with a dark brown border.
These spots can become gray and fuzzy with high humidity or excessive moisture, hence the name.
As with most lawn issues, the best way to prevent unwanted stressors and diseases is to try to maintain a thick, healthy lawn. Closely monitoring your lawn, taking note any time something changes, and addressing it immediately is your best bet in getting ahead of a disease. Additionally, make sure to water early in the morning to prevent the ideal environment for diseases to grow.
If your lawn is showing signs of gray leaf spot, the best thing to do is schedule an aeration which will help break up compacted soil, assisting the root uptake system.
Similar to the other fungi mentioned, mowing to the correct height, removing clippings when it is humid, and only mowing when the grass is dry will all assist in not spreading the disease.
Once your lawn is in the correct condition, applying a fungicide such as azoxystrobin, pyraclostrobin, or fluoxastrobin should control this fungus for approximately 28 days.
However, in order to ensure your lawn does not become resistant to the fungicides, try alternating between them for every other application.
Aside from disease-specific stressors in our lawns, there are other general stressors our lawns can face that will impede their growth and sustainability.
Shade stress, iron chlorosis, and drought stress are some of the more common stressors that your lawn may face in North Texas.
Shade stress occurs when turfgrass does not receive enough sunlight to support healthy plant growth. Although there are many “shade-tolerant” grass types, most lawn grasses can tolerate, but do not prefer shade. Too much shade could cause your turf to thin out leading to an increase in weeds and disease and even possible death.
If your shade is due to tall trees, the best solution is to intermix a shade-tolerant ground cover with shade-tolerant grasses at the areas where shade is cast.
You should also ensure that your trees are regularly and properly pruned to increase the level of light reaching the lawn. Afterall, dappled shade is better than full shade. However, only prune as much and as often as is needed for your specific tree species.
Over pruning can be detrimental to your trees. Additionally, you can also increase your mowing height to increase surface area, allowing the grass to absorb more light.
Iron Chlorosis develops when plants do not get enough iron from the soil. When this happens, you may see your lawn begin to turn yellowish because it cannot make chlorophyll without iron.
The first thing you should do if you see your lawn yellowing, is perform a soil test. DIY soil test kits are sold commercially, but many do not test for iron levels.
The best thing you can do is to pair up with your local cooperative extension service to get an accurate reading of both your soil and your turf type.
Once you have the results, schedule an aeration to alleviate soil compaction and improve root uptake. Then, to correct the deficiency, use an iron-containing product.
Drought stress occurs when rainfall and irrigation are insufficient to meet warm-season grasses’ water requirements. To protect itself, the grass goes into a drought-induced dormancy. Drought stress symptoms include grass thinning and loss of color.
The best thing you can do for a lawn that is experiencing drought stress is to first schedule an aeration, then adjust your watering and mowing practices. You can check out our mowing guide here and our watering guide here.
No one wants weeds. Afterall, the definition of a weed is a plant growing where it is not wanted. Weeds are classified into two main categories: broadleaf weeds and grassy weeds.
Typically, weeds can be avoided by growing a thick and healthy lawn, but sometimes they still appear. Fortunately, we can help you learn how to identify, control, and prevent weeds to get your best lawn yet.
Broadleaf weeds have broad, flat leaves with large veins, and some have showy flowers. To learn how to identify and treat broadleaf weeds, check out our guide for broadleaf weeds here.
Grassy weeds look very similar to grass and can sometimes blend in with the lawn, making them harder to identify. To learn how to identify and treat grassy weeds, check out our guide for grassy weeds here.
Read through the guide and still need assistance. Give one of our friendly customer service representatives a call or as always, you can get a free quote below.