I’ve dealt with lawn pests for years and just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, my turf is now plagued with grass fungus.
When it comes to lawn fungus, there’s good and bad news. The good news is that fungus spores are beneficial and live in most lawns.
However, when your lawn is stressed, and under the right conditions, these spores begin to multiply and cause myriad different problems like mushrooms, brown patches, and slimy areas.
There are several different fungus treatments for grass, some of which work and others that are really not worth the effort.
Effective fungus treatments for grass include baking soda, mowing your turf with sharp mower blades, watering properly and under the right conditions, and applying the right fertilizer products.
What is Turfgrass Fungus?
Lawn fungus is a disease that is usually a result of extended periods of moisture due to improper watering techniques, changes in weather conditions and temperature, and other conditions that can affect your turf’s ability to fight infections.
Often called brown patches or brown spots, grass fungus is bound to appear in any lawn in the summer or any other season, even under snow, due to one or more reasons, such as a lack of nitrogen fertilizer. Here’s a list of common lawn diseases and fungus.
As I mentioned earlier, most fungi are beneficial to lawns as they help decompose organic matter, which then supplies nutrients for your grass.
Almost every lawn has dormant microorganisms and disease-causing lawn fungi, which are simply waiting for the right conditions to cause havoc to your turf, most commonly when your lawn is under stress.
Unlike regular brown patches that go away with a little extra watering, turfgrass fungus brown patches don’t usually green up no matter how much water you add to your yard.
What Does Turfgrass Fungus Look Like?
Turfgrass fungus typically appears as discoloration and/or spots on individual leaf blades, powdery blotches, grass blades wilting from the tip, and most commonly rings of mushrooms up to 2 inches in diameter.
This is where you need to pay attention because grass fungus can easily be confused with symptoms of other problems in your lawn.
These symptoms of turfgrass fungus begin to get worse as the disease progresses like enlarged spots, and in worse cases dying of the roots.
What Causes Fungus in Grass?
There are several causes of fungus in grass, most of which are just the result of bad lawn care practices. Here are the top causes of turfgrass fungus, starting with the leading issues.
1. Excessive Heat and Humidity
To reiterate, fungus occurs when your lawn is under stress, such as if you overwater including excessive rain, or underwater your lawn, and/or during times of drought.
Heavy watering and long periods of rain leave water on the leaf surface of the grass. The mycelia (root-like structure of a fungus) use this accumulated water as a path to travel from leaf to leaf, spreading the fungus along the way.
Using your lawnmower or even walking on your lawn when it’s battling fungus can help spread the fungus across the grass.
As a homeowner, you probably already know about proper fertilization practices, but many of us still make the big mistake of under-fertilization or over-fertilization, resulting in brown borders, and/or fairy rings disease.
A thumb rule is to apply nutrient-rich fertilizer 4 times a year to your lawn. However, it’s important to perform a soil test in order to determine the right amounts of nitrogen fertilizer or other types of lawn food. But make sure you perform a soil test first before applying nay fertilizer to your lawn.
And remember, fertilizer isn’t the only source of nutrients for your lawn. There’s also water from rain or sprinklers that helps the grass absorb essential nutrients like nitrogen that’s already present in the soil.
The faster the nitrogen is used up when it rains or when you water, it will need to be replenished or else fungus will develop on your lawn.
3. High Night-Time Temperatures
If the night-time temperatures are just as high as daytime temperatures in your area, it could encourage lawn fungi to develop and thrive.
Even though there’s not much you can do in this situation, and I can’t advise you to water your lawn at night as this may provide the right conditions for fungus to grow, you should be aware that this could be a possible reason for lawn fungi growth.
4. Poor Air Flow
Lawns with poor or restricted airflow have a greater chance of developing lawn fungus. Good airflow decreases moisture and humidity levels much faster than stagnant air.
Poor airflow can be caused by nearby privacy fences, buildings, and dense trees and can increase fungal activity in your lawn, surrounding garden sheds, above-ground pools, and outdoor furniture.
5. Compacted Soil
Compacted soil affects the flow of water to penetrate the grassroots, which can cause root diseases including fungal growth.
Apart from an infected turf, soil compaction may also cause weak, thin grass, that’s prone to weeds and pests.
There are plenty of issues that can cause soil compaction including poor soil structure. Sometimes soils may get compacted due to an issue you’ve inherited and will need to be addressed a bit differently.
What Is the Best Fungus Treatment For Grass?
The best fungus treatment for grass can vary across lawns but here are 8 effective solutions to remedy an infected grass lawn.
1. Water Your Lawn at the Right Time (Hint – In the Early Morning)
The best time to water your lawn is early in the morning before 10:00 a.m. and never in the evening and nighttime.
Watering your lawn under the hot temperatures of the day causes wasteful evaporation and is truly a waste of effort and resources.
And watering blades of grass and healthy grass during nighttime increases the chances of lawn fungal diseases given that the droplets cling to the grass overnight.
Many homeowners say that watering your grass in the early evening provides the same results as watering in the early morning because the sun’s not out to cause evaporation.
But this is a myth and could cause more harm than good regardless of the weather including humid weather, rainy weather, and wet weather.
People often say that watering the lawn in the evening saves water since there’s no evaporation and even though this is true, here’s why it doesn’t benefit your lawn.
When you water your lawn in the early morning, it is absorbed by the plant’s roots and evaporates from the grass blades during the day.
However, when you water your lawn in the evening, the pores on the grass blades do not expel moisture, leading to plant rot and other common types of lawn diseases.
2. Make Sure Your Mower Blades are Sharp
Aren’t we all in a hurry to finish the daunting task of mowing and get on with our day? But wait, not so fast!
Mowing your lawn with dull mower blades causes mower blade injury because you’re tearing or shredding the grass blade tips and not slicing the individual blades cleanly, making your turf more susceptible to disease.
How often to sharpen your mower blades depends on how often you cut grass and the size (square feet) of your lawn, but I’d say sharpen the blades of your mower after every 20 to 25 hours of use time. You can sharpen a dull blade easily with a bench grinder or a sharpening tool.
3. Cut Only One-Third of the Grass Height
I hate to admit but I’ve made this mistake (a costly one) more than once. Different grass types should be cut at slightly different mowing heights but you should should always aim to take off no more than one-third of the grass height each time.
This removes just the right amount to prevent different types of fungi and keeps your grass healthy. Adding to this, cutting just 1/3 of the grass height prevents scalping injury, which causes grass stress and consequently types of fungus.
4. Apply the Right Amount of Fertilizer
Your lawn can get affected by fungus when you under-fertilize or over-fertilize your lawn. Under-fertilizing your lawn means a lack of nutrients and over-fertilizing provides excess nutrients for the soil, which in both cases makes your turf weak and susceptible to disease.
Before applying any fertilizer to your lawn including nitrogen-rich fertilizer or products from organic fertilizer manufacturers, ask yourself a couple of questions – is this the right fertilizer for my lawn and how much fertilizer should I apply in the mid-summer and late summer?
The best way to get the answer to these questions is by performing a soil test and then referring to the usage instructions on the product label.
5. Remove Dead Grass and Excess Thatch
Thatch is the loose, interwoven layer of dead and living plant material including stems and roots that’s located around the base of the grass plants. A thatch layer that’s one-half inch is actually beneficial for your lawn’s health and will keep common turf diseases at bay.
But an excess layer of this spongy layer of living and dead turf material that’s more than one-half inch can be detrimental to your lawn’s health and can cause yellow patches, fungal patches, brown irregular patches, and brown patch fungus.
Thatch reduces the overall drought resistance of the turf and when moist can harbor fungi that cause turf diseases. You can use a thatching or lawn dethatcher rake to pull the excess thatch upwards. First, mow your lawn to its normal height and avoid fertilizing before starting the process.
6. Loosen Compacted Soil by Aeration
Aeration is probably the best and most effective way to loosen compacted soil. Other aeration methods include spiking, but these don’t work very well and often make your compaction issue worse than it was earlier.
The process of core aeration entails pulling out tiny cores of plugs throughout your yard to create space and soften your soil. Once the soil is loosened up, water will flow easily to the grassroots and help with your fungus control efforts.
Loose soil doesn’t need to be aerated very often, somewhere between one and three years. But since you’re dealing with compacted soil that’s causing poor drainage and lawn fungus, you’ll have to aerate more frequently especially if you have thick grass like tall fescue.
7. Add Soil Amendments
Soil amendments and fertilizers are often confused with each other but they serve different purposes.
To explain briefly, soil amendments are designed to improve your soil’s physical condition including soil structure and water infiltration, whereas fertilizers supply nutrients to the soil, directly affecting grass growth.
There are plenty of soil amendment options to choose from including organic materials like grass clippings, wood chips, straw, and compost.
8. Fungicide Application
If you’ve tried the aforementioned treatments for fungus on lawn in summer or even cold weather conditions or you just want to skip them altogether due to one or more reasons, your best bet is to try a fungicide application.
Fungicides are basically a type of pesticide that should be applied under favorable conditions to eliminate fungi from your lawn and other spaces in your home.
Antifungal products kill and some can be used as preventative applications for fungal mycelium including cobweb-like mycelium.
Best Grass Fungus Killer
When shopping for the best grass fungus killers, you’ll be spoilt for choice given the many options to choose from. But here are 3 grass fungus pesticides to get rid of brown-patch and brown-patch symptoms from your lawn.
1. Fertilome (11380) Liquid Systemic Effective Fungicide II RTSNo products found.
The best thing about the Fertilome fungicide is that it is formulated to cure all types of lawn fungi including dollar spot, brown patch, and leaf spot. It is a ready-to-use product that can be used in lawns and garden beds.
No products found.
2. BioAdvanced Fungus Control
BioAdvanced manufactures a wide range of lawn care products like the fungus control bottle. It can control brown patch, dollar spot, and several other lawn care diseases and is absorbed by grass quickly and doesn’t wash off.
- Effective Fungus for Lawns cures and prevents listed lawn diseases and the Complete Insect Killer kills listed surface insects including grubs, ants, ticks and more in 24 hours
- Effective Fungus for Lawns provides 30 Day protection and the Complete Insect Killer provides 3 month protection
- Fungus control fungicide controls red thread, brown patch, dollar spot, rust, and other listed diseases. Use the complete insect killer on Soil and turnf lawns and around the home
Affiliate links and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on: 2023-12-08
3. Bonide Infuse Systemic Disease Control
Bonide protects your lawn from a variety of fungal diseases and is a ready-to-spray product. It can be used to treat up to 3,200 square feet and can be used with your hose-end sprayer.
- Protect your lawn from fungal diseases with Infuse Systemic Disease Control Ready-to-Spray from Bonide!
- Infuse Systemic Fungicide provides broad spectrum and systemic disease control to turf and ornamentals. Apply to roses, flowers, lawns, trees, shrubs and more.
- Stop and prevent various common disease including rust, blight, powdery mildew, scab leaf spot and more. This product is effective on over 30 listed diseases!
Affiliate links and images pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on: 2023-12-08
How Do You Treat Grass Fungus Naturally?
If you don’t want to take the chemical route to treat lawn fungus, you can try a few natural ways to try and get rid of the disease.
You probably already have baking soda tucked away in your kitchen cabinet, which can be used to create an alkaline environment to kill fungus in lawns.
There are two ways to use baking soda to kill lawn fungi – simply spread the powder over your grass, particularly in areas where lawn fungus exists, or mix it with water and spray it on your turf.
Other natural solutions for lawn fungus include vinegar, lemon juice, dish soap, and hydrogen peroxide.
How to Prevent Turfgrass Disease in the Lawn?
They say “prevention is better than cure” and this statement certainly applies to lawn fungus. The best way to prevent fairy ring disease or brown patch disease is by adhering to good lawn care practices.
Start by maintaining your lawn care equipment such as sharpening your mower blades and mowing at the right grass height. Next, aerate your soil when needed and immediately if it’s compacted as air and nutrient flow to the soil will be restricted in this poor condition.
When you spread fertilizer, make sure you’re not overdoing it by applying too much because it will cause fertilizer burn and invite disease and pests.
Spread fertilizer with a broadcast spreader for even application to avoid brown circular patches, discolored patches, and dead patches in areas of your lawn.
Feed your lawn regularly to prevent rust disease or any other type of disease and stick to a proper watering regime.
Apply fungicide if needed but take safety precautions when working with any fungicide sprays, chemical fungicides, natural fungicides, or any fungicide treatment such as wearing protective glasses and gear.
Common Types of Lawn Fungus
I’ve written a detailed article on the most common types of lawn fungus and their remedies and the list includes fairy ring, dollar spot, powdery mildew, snow mold, and red thread.
How Does Turfgrass Fungus Spread?
Grass fungus spreads easily and fast via several different ways including rain, wind, grass clippings, and even your lawnmower.
This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons why lawn care professionals avoid mowing lawns that are infected with fungi without being treated, as the fungi can spread to neighboring lawns.
To prevent the spread of turfgrass fungi, many homeowners wait it out in the hopes of getting rid of it on its own. But not taking action against grass fungus such as fungicide applications and/or improving nitrogen levels can be detrimental to your lawn’s short and long-term health.
Q. When Should I Apply Fungicide to My Lawn?
A. You can ideally apply fungicides at any time for existing lawn diseases including the summer months. Fungicide applications are most effective when the soil temperature is between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
It is best to avoid heavy foot traffic after a fungicide treatment including natural treatments like spraying a baking soda solution.
Q. Can Grass Recover from Fungus?
A. Yes, your grass can bounce back from a fungal infection and a common disease with the right care and treatments including an effective chemical treatment and preventative treatment.
Q. Will Lawn Fungus Go Away on Its Own?
A. I’m not going to sugarcoat this but turf fungus will not go away on if own if left untreated with chemical or natural solutions like neem oil. Devise a plan of action on tackling the fungi in your turf including the right steps to fend off diseases. hot and humid weather
Q. How Long Does It Take for Lawn Fungus to Go Away?
A. The answer depends on the severity of the disease and the treatments you apply to the infected leaves. But you can rest assured that with proper treatment, lawn fungus should disappear within a month especially if you apply a fungicide.
Q. Should I Get Professional Lawn Fungus Treatments?
A. If you aren’t sure how to treat lawn fungus with the right lawn fungus treatment products to keep your lawn healthy, hiring a professional lawn care company for the task is a good decision. These companies are equipped with many years of experience to get rid of lawn fungus from your lawn for good.
Fungus can spread quickly and create havoc on your lawn. But there are several steps and treatments for lawn fungus you can try to eliminate the disease.
Most of the treatments relate to good lawn care practices like mowing with sharp mower blades, cutting no more than one-third of the grass, and watering and fertilizing your grass properly. You can even apply a fungicide for faster results.
Hi, Alex Kuritz here. Growing up I remember that my family had one of the best lawns in the neighborhood. Richly green and lush. I did a lot as I grew up in terms of caring and tending for not only my family’s lawn but also my neighbors. I can say I have years of experience, and I am here to share it with you.