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How Do I Get Rid of Lawn Diseases?

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

Getting Rid of Lawn Diseases

Just when you thought you had your lawn problems identified, along may come a lawn disease. Diseases are enough to perplex all of us to no end. The reason being is that lawn diseases are not easy to identify and distinguish from other problems such as pests, poor maintenance, etc.. Ask anyone who has encountered lawn diseases and they will tell you how frustrating they can be. Much like human diseases, lawn diseases can be difficult to properly diagnose and even harder to treat correctly. And just when you thought you has all of your lawn care problems solved! Fear not, we have some tips to help you identify (see: What Kind of Lawn Diseases May I Have?) and treat your lawn problems.

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Before we begin on getting rid of lawn diseases, it is important to note that the best (and easiest) way to deal with lawn diseases is through prevention. High levels of thatch, warm weather, moisture, watering in the evenings, mowing with a dull blade, poor drainage, water pooling (due to poor irrigation), drought, and over fertilizing are just a few of the common conditions that can lead to disease problems. By addressing and/or avoiding these problems, you can commonly avert the problems associated with lawn diseases. The following are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to preventing lawn diseases:

  1. Mowing: Mowing your lawn either too low or with a dull blade can cause unnecessary stress to your grass, thereby increasing your chances of developing a lawn disease. Always make sure you are mowing your grass within its recommended mowing height and that you are keeping your mower blade sharp for a better cut. Additionally, if you already have a lawn disease, make sure that when mowing, you bag your clippings and thoroughly wash down your mower after you're done. Lawn diseases can spread through clippings, clinging to your mower blades, and even clinging to your shoes! Make sure your not aiding in their efforts!
  2. Watering and Drainage: Since most disease fungi love water and moisture, you may be providing a nice disease environment if your lawn does not drain well. If you commonly have water "pooling", or heavy levels of water run-off in your yard, then you could develop disease troubles in these areas. If you have these problems, make sure you either adjust your drainage from your home, and/or even re-grade your lawn for better run-off. Additionally, watering your lawn during evening times can lead to disease problems. Make sure that you water in the early morning hours so your lawn has enough time to soak-up the water and surface-dry before nightfall. Click here for a lawn re-grading company near you!
  3. Thatch: Excess amounts of thatch buildup in your lawn can help trap moisture in your lawn, increasing the likelihood for disease development. If you are mulching your clippings too often, or using pesticides to control pests in your lawn, you may inadvertently be causing a thatch buildup in your lawn. Make sure that you have your lawn properly aerated or de-thatched each year to help prevent excess thatch and/or moisture buildup in your lawn. Click here for a aerating or dethatching company near you!
  4. Fertilizing: Some lawn diseases thrive on lawns that receive too much nitrogen during fertilization, causing excessive top-growth that can be susceptible to disease. Make sure you properly fertilize your lawn by using fertilizing tables and making adjustments to them accordingly. Additionally, when fertilizing (usually in the fall), you can find fertilizers with a fungus control to help prevent diseases. If you live in an area prone to lawn disease, you may want to take this extra precaution to help prevent problems from developing.
  5. Fungicides: Chances are that some of you reading this will already have a lawn disease problem. If so, the most common controls, after exhausting the before mentioned procedures, is to use a fungicide on your lawn. Various types of fungicides exist, so make sure that you use the right one. Some of the broad-spectrum fungicides will not only treat your disease, but can kill-off other good organisms and insects as well! Since most lawn diseases are identified in spots before they spread, it's a good idea when using fungicides to first try to spot treat these areas to help minimize the damage a fungicide can cause to your lawn's ecosystem. As always, follow the instructions listed for each fungicide to help prevent possible damage to the environment and illnesses that can be caused by its use.

About the Author
Dawn West B.A. holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and teaches writing at Oregon State University.

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