How to Avoid Two of the Most Common Late Spring Turfgrass Diseases

The late spring season brings about two common turfgrass diseases. I’m here to give you a few tips on how to avoid trouble on your lawn so that you can enjoy a lush, green yard this year. 

As the weather transitions from those cooler spring days to more consistently warmer days with slightly cooler nights, we begin to see a few telltale signs of lawn disease. These late spring lawn symptoms typically lead to calls to our locally owned and operated Weed Man offices asking our professional lawn care experts to come out and have a look at the lawn to see what may be at play.

Leaf Blight DiseaseOne of the most common diseases seen in the second half of spring is leaf blight. Unfortunately, this disease is also one of the most difficult to manage, mainly because it happens so quickly and creates large, discolored patches on the lawn that resemble chemical burn. Oftentimes, leaf blight may impact one person’s lawn yet have no affect on their immediate neighbor’s, simply due to cultural issues like a dull mower blade. Poor cultural care of a lawn can greatly influence the spread of leaf blight or the severity of it from one lawn to another.

Leaf blight enters the grass plants after evening mowing followed by excessive night watering. In heavily infested areas, the fungus damages the lawn in circular patches that often form large bleached areas. Closer inspection of the plant reveals individual leaves dying from the tips down.

Lawns react very similarly to house plants when they become infected with disease. The first reaction of a house plant is to drop the diseased leaf before the disease can enter the main part of the plant. Turf is similar in that it will shed the leaf by thinning out the lawn. When conditions improve, it will regrow the leaf and fill back in. This can take weeks or even longer depending on weather patterns.

The second disease we see at this time of year is red thread. This disease is more active with rainy spring weather and lower light levels. The most noticeable symptoms of red thread are thread-like strands of coral pink or deep red fungus on the tips of brown grass blades. The strands can protrude up to ½ inch up from the blade and are easily seen, hence the name “red thread.” While red thread typically attacks fine fescue lawns, it can be seen in bluegrass as well. As the disease spreads, it will leave behind unsightly patches all over the lawn.

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So what is the best treatment available to prevent these two diseases from developing?

  1. The most important thing is to ensure you have a sharp mower blade, as this will help the grass heal quickly before the disease has a chance to enter the leaf blade and infect the turfgrass.
  2. It is also critical to avoid overwatering the lawn at this time of year, as many homeowners with irrigation systems will have them on and watering when it may not be required. Too much water is consistently an issue that contributes to late spring diseases. Remember to avoid evening watering (morning watering is best) and do not cut the lawn at night or when the grass is wet.
  3. Lastly, a healthy, well maintained lawn is the best defense against turfgrass disease. Regular fertilization will help keep your lawn strong and thick. Although out of your control, improved weather conditions will also greatly assist in the lawn recovering from leaf disease typically. Once summer arrives, these diseases will likely disappear…only to leave others more suited for the heat, such as dollar spot, in their wake.

Questions about lawn disease? Comment below or contact your local Weed Man professional. To find your local Weed Man, use our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns green and healthy,

Chris

Weed Control – Frequently Asked Questions

At this time of year we often get many customers asking about weed control applications. Read on below for answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.

ImageHands down, the number one call we get at this time of year is: “I have dandelions on my lawn…why haven’t you been here to treat for them yet?” This is always a tough call for anyone in the lawn care industry, as we know we’ve been hired to make sure our customers’ lawns are free of weeds. At the end of the day, this is how we are judged by our clients. However, the issue at hand is that weed control for broadleaf weeds must be completed after the weeds are up and growing, and those pesky dandelions are always the first broadleaf weeds to pop up — way before any of the others. While we would love to get out and treat every one of our customers first thing, this is not possible, and, in actuality, those customers who wait until later in the application cycle see far superior results. Why, you may ask? Oftentimes, other broadleaf weeds do not germinate as early on in the season as dandelions, and if we treat as soon as yellow flowers start to pop, we end up missing out on controlling many of the other lawn invaders: plantain, oxalis and knotweed, to name a few. The longer we wait, the more likely we are to get all of the weeds in one application. Not to mention that if you wait a bit later to apply weed control, you’ll likely see more suitable weather conditions as well.

The second question we often get is: “My dandelions are now going to seed…isn’t it too late to apply weed control?” In reality, Imagedandelions going to seed is not a concern, as there are thousands of weed seeds already in the soil just waiting to germinate given the right conditions. In fact, when an application of weed control is applied to a lawn, it will actually make the dandelions go to seed anyway. This is because the herbicides used to control broadleaf weeds rely on their ability to mimic the natural growth hormones (known as auxins) found in broadleaf plants. Auxins are absorbed through the leaves of the weed and translocated to the meristems of the plant. Uncontrolled, unsustainable growth ensues, causing the stem to curl over, the leaves to wither, and eventual plant death. In other words, the plant grows very quickly and the stress of this accelerated growth is what leads to the eventual death of the plant.

The third most frequently asked question we receive is: “Under the ‘special instructions’ section on the invoice, it says not to water or cut the lawn for 24-48 hours following a weed control application. What happens when it rains the day after? Will the application still work?” The short answer to this question is yes, absolutely. We build in a lot of extra time to ensure the application has enough time to dry on the plant and work before the homeowner waters or cuts the lawn. Typically, though, the application is rainfast after just a few hours. Customers may also mow their lawns within a few hours of the application (as long as they mow high). Always give it at least 14 days to assess whether or not the application has worked. If the weeds don’t seem to be curling or dying, keep in mind that Weed Man provides a 100% guarantee on our services. Our team will happily come back and retreat the lawn free of charge.

Lastly, a question that we sometimes field after an application of weed control is: “Why is there an area of the lawn that looks like it was burnt by weed control?” It is almost impossible to burn a lawn with weed control, and in all of my twenty years of being in the lawn care industry I’ve yet to personally see turf burned by a herbicide application. So then why is there sometimes a large bleached out area on the lawn following an application? As the season turns from spring to summer or from cooler weather to warmer weather when our weed control is being applied, a very common turf disease called leaf blight may arise. Leaf blight can bleach out large areas of turfgrass very quickly, creating a burnt appearance. This disease will clear up quickly on its own. The best thing a homeowner can do is call Weed Man for a quick diagnosis and advice on how to avoid turfgrass diseases.

Remember: the best defense against weeds is a healthy, thick lawn. If you have any questions about your turf, Weed Man would be happy to help.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.