Out of all the lawn diseases out there, this one is probably the most damaging and is very difficult to anticipate, and then control. It’s 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’s likely to appear afterwards – known as snow mould). But in saying that it can withstand temperatures up to 19°C so you could see it during summer and spring.
Once established the disease will kill the grass until you’re left with a bare patch. Nobody wants this to spoil their lawn so to give yourself the best chance with preventing, controlling and treating Fusarium patch by applying these tips.
If Fusarium patches begin to infect your lawn then you’ll begin seeing small, yellow circles appearing on the grass surface, sometimes even 30cm wide. Over time this patch will begin getting darker and 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 go brown and you might even see white/pink mycelium growing as well, although this is usually seen in wet conditions. Both are an indication of high fungus activity.
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’ll 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 further dilute the existing level of thatch, but just be careful as applying too much can cause the lawn too much stress.
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 will be strong enough to combat the patches on its own without you having to take any extra precautions or make any repairs.
If you have been too late and the Fusarium patches have already taken effect, then follow this process when dealing with the dead area of grass.
- Rake patches to clear the dead patches and expose the soil.
- Densely spike the affected area using garden fork to about 1 – 2 inches 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 square inch to replace the old and dead grass roots.
- Brush then tread the seed in.
- You can then apply a fertiliser if the entire lawn isn’t affected.
- Make sure you keep this area damp and mow on the high side with sharp blades for the first 2 – 3 months.
- You might also want to prune any overhanging branches to improve airflow around the patch.
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’re 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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