How to Identify and Prevent Lawn Rust

Prevent lawn rust

Imagine you walk outside to enjoy your nice lush green lawn and notice your grass appears to have an orange-yellow tint to it. At first glance, you think your grass is dying. 

Upon further inspection, you realize it’s a powdery substance. You scour the internet to discover this substance is called lawn rust. 

Immediately hearing the term lawn rust probably brings up more questions. Questions like: How and why did it appear? Does this mean my grass is dying? How do I fix this? Why is it called lawn rust?

All of these questions we will explore and answer in this article.  

What is Lawn Rust?

If you were wondering if your lawn is actually “rusting”, the simple answer is no it is not.

Lawn rust also called rust disease or grass rust is a fungal disease that produces spores that shed an orange and yellow powder substance when the spores burst.

This orange and yellow powder is what gives the appearance of rust in the lawn. Fungal spores can rapidly spread by animals or humans when they unknowingly attach to fur, shoes, or skin and are transported to an uninfected area. 

Although this disease can be harmful to grass, it is not harmful to humans or animals.

How to Identify Lawn Rust?

If this grass rust disease hasn’t spread yet and it’s in the beginning stages, it will probably require close inspection. Look for small yellow specks on grass blades.

These specks are fungal spores that haven’t ruptured yet. Once they rupture, they will produce orange and yellow rust powder and you may see this in entire grass patches in your lawn.

If the disease has progressed and is severe, you may notice some grass thinning and possibly death.

When, Where, & Why Does Rust Disease Happen?

For grass rust to occur, fungal spores must be present. Fungal spores spread and thrive when temperatures are warm and humidity is high.

This most often occurs in the months of summer to early fall. Another factor that can allow for fungus breeding is prolonged grass wetness. 

If your grass is stressed, it will be susceptible to diseases such as lawn rust. Not to be confused with brown patches that are caused by drought stress.

Some of these stressors include:

Ways to Prevent Lawn Rust

Although it isn’t complicated to treat lawn rust, it is way easier to prevent it from occurring in the first place. The best way to prevent this lawn disease or any other disease is to maintain a healthy lawn. 

A few tips for maintaining a healthy lawn: 

  • Know the type of grass you have. There are warm-season grasses and cool-season grasses. Each type requires a specific type of maintenance and upkeep. 
  • Adequate soil fertilization will keep the soil nitrogen level in check. If soil nitrogen levels are low then it can weaken the grass, making it prone to lawn diseases. 
  • Never cut grass more than 1/3 of the grass blade length. For more information check out this complete mowing guide.

Don’t irrigate your lawn at night time. This allows the ground to be wet for a prolonged period, creating the ideal environment for fungal growth. 

Avoid moisture stress. Aerate your lawn properly. Poorly aerated lawns will have drainage problems, promoting moisture build-up. Reduce the number of spots in your lawn that get consistent shade.

This could mean trimming back branches, trees, or shrubs that block sunlight. The idea is to maximize air circulation.

How to Treat Lawn Rust?

For mild to moderate lawn rust, a few simple lawn maintenance measures can go a long way:

  • Fertilize lawn with a high nitrogen content fertilizer. This will keep your lawn nourished throughout the seasons. 
  • Mow your grass regularly. Make sure to bag the grass clippings to decrease the chances that the rust will spread. 
  • When experiencing this type of lawn disease don’t go overboard on watering your lawn. Water it only when it needs it and preferably in the morning. This will minimize the soil moisture level and allow time for the grass to dry during the day.

The majority of the time lawn rust can be managed by implementing the prevention and treatment methods listed above. All of these methods are geared toward creating an environment that discourages fungal growth. 

It’s uncommon to need to apply chemicals to your lawn to treat lawn rust. This usually is only required for severe cases. In these cases, a class of chemical treatments called a fungicide should be used.

In these circumstances, it’s best to call in professionals to handle these chemicals due to the potential harm they pose if not handled properly. In addition, the most effective fungicides are not commonly sold in your local lawn and gardening stores.

If fungicides are used, they should be used with an abundance of caution. They have the potential to damage healthy grass.

Call the Professionals at Gecko Green

If you are dealing with rust in your lawn then Gecko Green is here to help. Whether you’re unsure what you’re dealing with or have a severe case of lawn rust, Gecko Green can get your lawn back to being better than ever.

Call one of our licensed technicians today for an individualized lawn treatment plan. We look forward to hearing from you soon! 

Call for a free quote today!