Lawn Rust – Identification and Prevention (What Are the Signs?)

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Is your lawn riddled with yellow, orange, or reddish-brown patches? Well, even though there could be several reasons for this problem, the most common culprit is lawn rust! Yikes!

The word rust often conjures up images of a rusty 1965 Buick Skylark, but that’s far from the rust I am referring to in this article. Read on to find out what is lawn rust, how to identify lawn rust, and how to get rid of lawn rust in your turf. 

What is Lawn Rust?

Definition of Lawn Rust

Lawn rust is a disease that’s caused by several different fungi, most notably Puccinia or Uromyces fungi.

Although lawn rust disease can affect all types of turf grasses, the grasses that are more prone to this disease are Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue. 

Lawn rust disease usually occurs on turf grasses when their growth is slowed, which is typically in the late summer or early fall. 

This fungal disease can cause problems on its own and can also make your grass susceptible to other diseases and turf issues. 

lawn rust

Importance of Healthy Lawns

Maintaining a healthy lawn not only improves the overall appeal of your home but benefits the environment. Apart from this, there are myriad different reasons to maintain a healthy lawn, starting with creating a safe place for fun, family, and fitness. 

A healthy lawn serves as an extension of your home, a place where you and your family can engage in various activities. Experts claim that a healthy lawn can reduce stress, increase productivity and improve our moods and lives. 

I spend a fair bit of cash for professional lawn care services but have also seen a great reduction in my home cooling costs, owing to many lush green lawn offering protection against hot temperatures. 

How to Identify Lawn Rust – Signs and Symptoms

There are plenty of ways of identifying lawn rust in your lawn including by pulling a few grass blades out of the turf. 

Yellow, Orange, or Reddish-Brown Dots/Patches on Grass

The most common sign of lawn rust disease is yellow, orange, or reddish-brown dots/patches on the grass. Yellow dots gradually transform into orange or brown pustules. 

These abscesses are delicate and break easily when touched, letting out a powdery substance that’s rusty orange in color. 

Thin or damaged grass blades

Thin or Damaged Grass Blades

Lawn rust can weaken the grass leaf blades, making them look thin and damaged over time. If you pull up a blade of grass and it breaks easily, it’s probably a good sign of lawn rust. 

Visible Fungal Spores on Grass Blades

Pull up a few individual grass blades and check if they’re coated with orange-red to yellowish-brown dust or spores. If you touch these spores, they can easily be transported from your hand to your home. 

Visible fungal spores on grass blades

Grass Types Commonly Affected by Rust Diseases

Many types of turf grasses and types of plants including ornamental plants are susceptible to lawn rust disease.

However, if you have a Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, or zoysia grass lawn, the chances of catching lawn rust are much higher than other turfgrasses. 

With regards to plants, rust diseases can affect Lilium, marigolds, poinsettias, and much more.  

Causes & Favorable Conditions for Lawn Rust

Overwatering

Lawn rust is a fungus after all, and fungi thrive in warm, moist environmental conditions. An overwatered lawn is more likely to attract lawn rust owing to the excess moisture. You may notice red-orange colored grass, which is caused by rust fungus. 

Poor Drainage

Poor drainage means more moisture in your lawn and creates a friendly environment for rust fungus. Lawn rust prefers to grow in moist soil with poor drainage, and not in dry soils. 

High Humidity

Lawn rust is more likely to plague your lawn when the temperatures are warm and the humidity is high, which is in the summer or early fall. 

Lack of Sunlight

Contrarily, lack of sunlight can also contribute to the growth of lawn rust such as in areas that experience cool nights, with heavy dew and frequent rainfall. 

How Do I Get Rid of Rust in My Lawn?

If you have rust in your lawn, there’s no need to break a sweat just yet because there are a plethora of ways to eliminate rust spots in your lawn. 

Chemical Treatments

Unfortunately, there are no chemical treatments geared toward getting rid of rust on your lawn. Chemical treatments are unnecessary for lawn rust disease even for lawns that are heavily affected by the disease. 

I recommend applying a high-nitrogen, quick-release fertilizer such as Scotts Turf Builder to the affected area to make the rust spots disappear quickly. 

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Choosing Rust-Resistant Grass Varieties

The other option you have is planting a rust-resistant grass variety. But this may only be feasible if you’re reseeding your lawn from scratch. 

Take note that there’s no grass type that’s 100 percent rust resistant, but certain types of grass such as bermudagrass, St. Augustine’s grass, and centipede grass are less likely to suffer rust injury. 

Prevention of Lawn Rust

Proper Watering and Fertilization Techniques

Maintaining a watering and fertilization schedule will prevent moisture build-up and make your lawn thrive throughout the growing season.

Regular lawn care will help fend off all types of grass disease, so you’ll have fewer issues to deal with. 

man applying fertilizer on lawn rust

Maintaining Proper Soil pH

The soil pH determines what nutrients are missing or are in excess in the soil. Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potash are the essential nutrients required for robust grass growth. 

You can check your soil pH with a home soil test or by sending soil samples to a lab. After you receive the results, you’ll be able to choose the appropriate fertilizer and add the right amounts of fertilizer to the soil. 

Regular Inspection and Treatment

Regular inspection will help you catch lawn diseases in their early stages, making them much easier to treat.

With the hustle and bustle of daily life, finding time to regularly inspect the lawn isn’t always possible, in which case hiring a lawn care company with a high level of expertise makes sense. 

Can Rust Be Stopped From Spreading?

Lawn rust will stop spreading with proper lawn maintenance. 

Can You Stop Rust Permanently?

Lawn rust is inevitable in unhealthy lawns. If you maintain your lawn, you can prevent lawn rust from returning. 

How to Repair Lawn Spots Damaged by Rust Diseases

The best way to repair lawn spots damaged by rust diseases is by applying a high-nitrogen fertilizer. However, before spreading fertilizer, it’s a good idea to perform a soil test. 


FAQs

Q: Will Lawn Rust Go Away on Its Own?

A: If not treated, lawn rust will not go away on its own. You will have to maintain proper lawn care practices to prevent lawn rust from returning.

Q: Is Lawn Rust Harmful?

A: Lawn rust isn’t harmful to humans and pets but can make your turf to other diseases. 

Q: Does Rain Help Lawn Rust?

A: Rain doesn’t help lawn rust but in fact, encourages its growth and spread.

Q: Can I Mow With Lawn Rust?

A: Mowing the lawn regularly can help remove rust-infected grass blades. 

Q: Does Lawn Rust Turn Black?

A: A lawn rust infection is dark brown in color but can turn black in severe cases. 

Q: How Do You Get Rid of Rust Spores in Soil?

A: Spead a high-nitrogen fertilizer and wait for a week or so for the rust spores to disappear. 


Final Thoughts

Lawn rust is a fungal disease that can usually be eliminated by applying a high-nitrogen fertilizer. After fertilizing the soil, water the area for long periods and at long intervals. 

There are no fungicides designed specifically for lawn rust, but proper fertilization should make the lawn rust go away on its own.