Disease/Insects

  • Differentiating Between Dead and Dormant Grasses

    This time of year, as temperatures drop and rainfall becomes infrequent, lawns all over the country turn dry and brown. At first glance, it might appear that the grass is diseased or even dead. In fact, chances are it’s actually doing something pretty remarkable.

    Dormancy Isn’t a Disease. It’s a Defense Mechanism.

    When grasses are under intense stress, they’re able to redirect resources away from blade growth and towards the preservation of their essential root systems. In essence, dormancy is very similar to hibernation. The grasses conserve water for their roots, while allowing their blades to temporarily whither. Once the stress on the grass is alleviated, the blades will turn green and begin to grow again. Here in California, we tend to see grasses go dormant during periods of drought. Throughout much of the country, grasses go dormant during the winter as well.

    So How Can You Tell if Your Grass is Dead or Just Dormant?

    The easiest way to tell is to water your lawn or wait for rain. If grass is dormant, it will return to normal once it’s been properly hydrated. If it’s dead, it won’t be revived with watering.

    Bear in mind that grass tends to go dormant uniformly as well. If you your lawn is patchy and brown, it may be suffering from a disease or pest infestation. White spots are usually indicative of mold growth. If your lawn hasn’t received much water recently and it turns an even shade of brown, chances are it’s just conserving energy until conditions improve.

  • Disease Prevention and Control

    The best way to prevent and control any diseases that may occur in your lawn is through continuous and persistent maintenance. This maintenance includes correct fertilization, irrigation (which includes watering and drainage), mowing height, appropriate maintenance tools that have been kept in good condition, placement in full sun, and use of disease resistant sod. Full sun is usually ideal for the health and proper growth of your lawn, but since this may not always be possible, it is important to remember that grass grown in shade will be more thin, weak and prone to stress. Along with exposure to sun, weather will also play a huge role in the outcome of your sod lawn. While we do have control over most factors regarding sod lawn maintenance, we don't have control over such weather conditions as temperature, drought or rain and the timing of it all. Since control over these factors are out of our hands, it is vital that we stay active and on top of the maintenance that we can control.

    There are several different types of disease that can occur in your sod lawn. A disease will usually start out small with a few patches or spots throughout the lawn and then spread if left untreated. Sometimes a problem that seems more severe and sudden may appear, and that can often be caused by stress due to something besides disease such as improper fertilization, sudden extreme heat, poor drainage, or incorrect mowing. Correct drainage and irrigation is crucial to preventing many sod problems and can often be the root cause for various problems like discolored lawns. Diagnosis is key before taking the next step of treating the disease.

    If the cause of the turf problem is a fungus, there are different types of fungicides that are meant to be used either preventively or curatively. Preventive fungicides work to activate a plant's natural defenses against infection. Curative fungicides can stop dead or diseased areas from getting bigger, but will not bring a dead patch back to life. It will take time for the grass to fill back in on its own, or it can be re-seeded. It can be helpful to keep a record of where the disease has occurred as fungus often occurs in the same areas year after year, so preventive fungicide can be accurately applied. Prevention is always best, which will include applying preventive fungicide, aerating, proper fertilization and irrigation maintenance.

    The most common summer disease found in grasses like tall fescue is brown patch. It creates large, tan-colored lesions on the blade of grass and expands into circular patches up to several feet wide. Brown patch is most aggressive when there's a combination of high humidity and temperatures above 90 degrees, but can also become active when temperatures at night are above 60 degrees, thus being active through summer and well into September. Preventive fungicides are the best option for brown patch when applied in the spring or early summer. Large patch can be found in warm-season grasses like St. Augustine. Tan or red-brown lesions can be seen on the leaf sheath and expands into circular patches, oftentimes 12 feet wide. Large patch attacks when warm-season grasses are growing more slowly, during fall, winter and spring. It becomes active when temperatures drop below 60 degree, which is the ideal time to apply preventive fungicide.

  • Know How to Keep Your Lawn Healthy, Neat

    Managing your lawn and garden to keep it weed, disease, and pest free can sometimes be a complex process. With a little work, there are ways to customize an approach and plan to maintain your specific needs. It is important to become educated on the different problems you may be encountering, whether it is insects, weeds, diseases, or weather. It is also important to research possible options to treat the problems, keeping in mind your specific yard, cost, and severity of the problem.

    First, you need to thoroughly analyze what your issues are. Evaluate what your main concerns are (weeds, pests, etc.), and what is important to you, such as keeping pests from your garden or weeds out of your lawn. After you determine what your problems are, you will want to begin looking into solutions that will both cure your current issue and prevent it from returning. This is where management can get complex, but still manageable. You want a plan that can treat all problems while working together. For example, insects can occur at different times of the year, sometimes at the same time every year, sometimes sporadically, and some may cause problems throughout the year. Some of these pests can be taken care of before they are seen, while others can only be taken care of once they have begun to show themselves. The same issues can be seen with weeds and diseases in your turf. Warm or damp weather may encourage these to come out of dormancy and spread rapidly. A well thought out plan to manage your lawn at the right time is key.

    Next, you will begin looking into the various products available. The goal is to have pest and weed control all season long that is both environmentally safe and cost effective. You will need products that match your problems, that is their duration, whether they are preventative or curative, and how they may affect your turf. Again, matching all these qualities may be a challenge, but rewarding in the end. In regards to environmental effects, products on the market today have been developed under strict regulations and mandates. They exceed standards and criteria for human health, safety and the environment. Current products have low toxicity levels that are no longer highly toxic to people, wildlife, and pets.

    With the right research into both your lawns needs and the products that would best suit you, the management of your turf can be highly successful and fulfilling.

  • Turfgrass Disease a 5 Headed Monster

    There are several factors that go into controlling turfgrass disease. The weather, your budget, knowledge and patience all play a role in the management of your sod. Weather plays a huge part in the outcome of your turf, its’ unpredictability and uncontrollable nature can sometimes work against you. Your budget and the expenses of maintaining a nice turfgrass can add up depending on the size and detail of the lawn and landscaping, the complexity of the disease, and how much you are willing or able to spend. Patience must be practiced when waiting for the end result of a pest and disease free lawn, which can sometimes be hard when we wish to see results quickly rather than after a much more likely several weeks. Lastly, more knowledge about maintaining a disease and pest free lawn will of course only help you reach your goals. Your ability to control the outcome of your lawn is much better if you know the conditions that cause the development of diseases, how they affect lawns and how the damage they cause can be controlled.

    Continuous management of your turfgrass is the best way to keep it free of diseases. This includes proper fertilization, correct irrigation and watering, correct mowing height, appropriate maintenance tools, placement in full sun, distance from other plants, and use of disease resistant turf cultivars. It is up to the homeowner to make sure all of these practices are in effect. Even if a homeowner has a landscaping crew maintaining their yard routinely, mowing and irrigation must still be monitored more often. Additionally, correct weed and insect control, aeration and thatch management will increase your chances of a successful lawn.

    It is important you accurately diagnosis your lawn problem before beginning maintenance. Time and money can be wasted if treatment has begun in haste and does not fix the problem. There are several different causes of lawn problems, such as fungus, poor drainage, weather, poor management and maintenance practices, and more. Most diseases will usually affect either the root of the grass or the blade. After taking a close, detailed look, you can usually see if the root has been damaged, or if the problems only occur on shoots.

    Prevention is always preferable over having to cure and maintain in the future. Preventative practices can help prevent a wide array of diseases rather than curing specific diseases as they show up. It is always useful to take advantage of disease resistant varieties. Making sure there is adequate soil aeration and percolation is also important, specifically when preventing root disease. Having continuous wet roots can cause infection and disease, so aerating is critical and seldom overdone. Timing is also an important step when implementing disease control processes, taking into consideration things such as whether the turf is cool or warm-season. Patience, knowledge and effort will go a long way in disease prevention and help aid in decreasing the need for curative and maintenance efforts.

  • Damaging Root Diseases of Turf

    by John C. Fech and Roch E. Gaussoin; Sports Filed Management Magazine Apr/May 2011

    Those of us here in the office who deal with customer service are always looking for information on how to describe a disease that may have shown up in your lawn. This article by these gentlemen has created a general overview that was helpful to us here at SodLawn. Though this article is aimed at the turf care professionals, almost all of us can glean some information to apply to our residential and commercial turf.

    Highlights:

    • Summer Patch
    • Necrotic Ring
    • Spring Dead Spot
    • Leaf Spot
    • Pythium Blight
    • Nematodes

    --->>> Click here to download the PDF of Damaging Root Diseases <<<---

  • Get Rid of Grubs

    Article by Patrick White

    I love it when I don’t have to recreate an article, and this one is full of information:

    Well worth your time to read, though it is aimed to the lawn care professional.

    turfmagazine.com

    Highlights of the article: Get Rid of Grubs

    The first key is to distinguish between preventive and curative treatments, the latter being what needed during the late fall or early spring for active grubs. For active grubs, trichlorforn or carbaryl as active ingredients in your products.

    Eggs are laid in midsummer and develop into full-sized grubs in the fall. “You can see them after Labor Day, they’re very obvious at that point,” says Davis. At that point, the grubs will be within the top 2.5 to 3 inches in the rootzone.

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