Lots of lawn diseases look very similar. It is important to identify the disease correctly as the treatment varies. For example, Brown Patch (small brown patch that can spread quickly), Rust (orange colour appearance on grass blade), Dollar Spot (small straw colour spots size of dollar, hence the name) are some of the most common lawn diseases. In this article we will be talking about Fusarium Patch. Out of all the lawn diseases out there, this one is probably the most damaging lawn disease and is very difficult to anticipate, and then control. It is most noticeable at the end of the season, when the weather gets a little cooler, and all the way through winter until early spring (be wary of snowfall as it is likely to appear afterwards – known as pink snow mould lawn disease). But in saying that it can withstand temperatures up to 19°C so you could see it during summer and spring too.
Lawn disease can happen anywhere and to any type of lawn. Once established the disease will kill the grass until you are left with bare patches. Nobody wants this lawn disease to spoil their lawn so to give yourself the best chance to prevent, control and treat Fusarium patches you should apply the following tips.
If Fusarium patches begin to infect your lawn then you will begin seeing small, yellow circles appearing on the grass surface, sometimes even 30cm wide. Over time this patch will become darker until it turns into a really dirty shade of yellow, this is when it starts killings the grass plant.
If the situation is really bad then the outer edges of the patch will turn brown and you might even see white/pink mycelium growing as well, although this is usually seen in cool, damp and shady conditions. Both are a good indication of high fungus activity.
The Fusarium patches will spread, so it is important to treat them.
Methods of Control
Now this is where things get a little difficult. You can treat the diseased area with a fungicide but if the weather conditions are suitable for fungus growth, then the patch will just re-grow shortly after, defeating the purpose of applying it in the first place. Even though this will give some short term relief, you will have to apply it intermittently throughout the season.
Also remember that fungicides can also kill helpful disease and fungi, some of which promote the breakdown of thatch and organic matter within the soil.
As Fusarium can survive within the layer of thatch on top of your lawn, your best course of action is to aerate and scarify regularly. They remove all the dead grass and debris allowing for better penetration of air into the grass roots and improves drainage within the soil, both of which help the lawn combat the disease and reduce its likeliness of reappearing. You can also apply a topdressing to cover the existing thatch, it dilutes the thatch which helps with its natural breakdown.
To understand the best type of lawn aerators, benefits and different methods available click on my article – Best Type of Lawn Aerators.
If you want to know more about top-dressing your lawn, the benefits, material and procedure click on my article – How to Top Dress Your Lawn.
Now even though these methods can be effective, the best way to control Fusarium within your lawn is just to keep it properly maintained. This means mowing it every week, feeding it on a regular basis, aerating it whenever needed and overall making for the best grass growing conditions you can. If you do this then your lawn should be strong enough to combat the patches on its own without you having to take any extra precautions or make large repairs.
If you are too late and the Fusarium patches have already taken over your lawn, then follow this process when dealing with the dead area of your grass.
- Rake the patches and clear the dead grass to expose the soil.
- Densely spike the affected area using garden fork to about 2cm to 5cm deep. This will let water, air and nutrients into the grass roots.
- Add a matching seed to the soil at about 10 to 20 seeds per 5 square centimetres to replace the old and dead grass.
- Lightly cover with top-soil, rake and tread the seed in.
- If required, you can then apply a fertiliser if the entire lawn isn’t affected.
- Make sure you keep the fixed area damp and mow on the high side with a sharp blade for the first 2 months.
- You might also want to prune any overhanging branches to improve airflow around the patch.
There are also biological and chemical methods of control (professional and domestic).
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Just like controlling the disease, the best way to prevent Fusarium patch is to keep your lawn in the best condition possible. To ensure strong, thick and healthy grass growth you are going to need to provide it with sufficient light, air, water and nutrition, all of which are supplied by proper lawn care procedures.
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