Lawn Disease Basics and Control

What are Lawn Diseases?

Lawn and turfgrass diseases are abnormal conditions on turf caused by a disease organism or pathogen. They can be difficult to identify because they share many characteristics with other lawn problems.

How to Spot Lawn Diseases in Your Lawn -

Leaf spots, brown areas or patches of dead grass may look like damage caused by disease, but they do not automatically indicate there is a disease present. Mowing with a dull blade, scalping or poor irrigation can also cause symptoms in your lawn that might be confused with a turfgrass disease.

Conditions necessary for Lawn Diseases -

In most parts of the country, lawn diseases are a relatively minor problem on turfgrass in the home lawn. For a turfgrass disease to occur, the following three components must all be present at the same time:

  • The host – this is the turfgrass in your lawn
  • The pathogen – this is the organism that infects the turfgrass and causes damage in your lawn
  • The environment - Environmental conditions, like temperature and moisture, can lead to disease development or reduce your lawn’s health

Pathogens that Cause Lawn Diseases -

Lawn disease causing pathogens are microorganisms that use your lawn for food. These unwanted pests include the following microorganisms:

  • Fungi -
    Most turf diseases are caused by fungi. These are organisms that cannot manufacture their own food without infecting the turfgrass to obtain it. The fungi that attack turfgrass plants, feed on living tissues such as leaves, crowns, stems and roots. However, some fungi feed on decaying organic matter in the soil. turfgrass plants are attacked by fungi through the leaves, stems, roots, natural openings (stomates) or wounds caused by mowing. Fungi can be spread from one place to another by soil, rain, wind or mechanical equipment.
  • Viruses -
    A virus is so small that it actually lives within the cells of a turfgrass plant. Viruses are generally transferred from plant to plant by insects that carry contaminated sap from diseased plants to healthy plants or by mechanical equipment. St. Augustine Decline is the only major turfgrass disease caused by a virus.
  • Nematodes -
    Nematodes are microscopic worms that spread by soil movement or water and often attack turfgrass. They feed using a piercing mouthpart and damage turf by sucking nutrients out of roots and stems. Nematodes are more common in warm season turfgrass situations, especially in sandy soils.

Lawn Disease Control -

Cultural disease control practices can promote conditions that are not favorable for disease development. The weather cannot be changed, but conditions in your lawn can be modified to lessen that chance of lawn diseases from forming. Scotts LawnService can help determine a plan for preventing and controlling turfgrass disease in your lawn.

Scotts LawnService is the trusted industry leader for professional quality lawn care. Our exclusive lawn care products include premium grass seeds and professional-grade fertilizers; our lawn service teams are comprised of highly trained, industry-certified professionals. Contact a representative today for lawn disease control options available in your area and to learn how you can enjoy a lush, thicker lawn that only Scotts LawnService can deliver.