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What Kind of Lawn Diseases May I Have?

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

Lawn diseases are not easy to identify and distinguish from other problems such as pests, poor maintenance, etc.. They are sometimes hard to distinguish from each other as well. Make sure you do your homework before you decide to do something drastic in treating what might not be the right disease, or a disease at all! If this is not for you, simply click here to find a service in your area who can help you with lawn disease control!

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Most lawn diseases are the caused by fungi that live off of your grass. They often affect your lawn in spots, circles, patches, and/or strange colors ranging from brown, to yellow, to red. Some lawn diseases will look like mold on your lawn, while others will make your lawn turn different colors. Either way, they are not a lot of fun! The following is a list of commonly occurring lawn diseases and the best methods for getting rid of them:

Snow Mold
Snow Mold

Snow Mold:

Snow Mold is most common to Kentucky Bluegrass and Fescues in regions where snow falls and sits on the lawn for extended periods of time.

  • Getting Rid of It: The best prevention for snow mold is to aerate often. Improving water drainage, raking leaves off of your lawn surface, and following a fertilization schedule to help prevent over-fertilization in the late-fall can also help. The most common fungicide used on Snow Mold is benomyl.
Brown Patch
Brown Patch


Brown Patch:

Brown Patch is most common to Bermuda, Kentucky Bluegrass, Centipede Grass, Bent Grass, St. Augustine, and ryegrasses in regions with high humidity and/or shade. Brown patch commonly starts as a small spot and can quickly spread outwards in a circular or horseshoe pattern up to a couple of feet wide. Often times, while expanding outwards, the inside of the circle will recover, leaving the brown areas resembling a smoke-ring.

  • Getting Rid of It: The best prevention for brown patch is to aerate often, reduce shade to effected areas, and follow a fertilization schedule to help prevent fertilization with excess amounts of nitrogen. The most common fungicides used on Brown Patch are: benomyl, and chlorothalonil.
Dollar Spots
Dollar Spots


Dollar Spots:

Dollar spots are most common to Kentucky Bluegrass, Bent Grass, and Bermuda in humid climates. They get their name from their small silver dollar-like shape and usually look brown or straw-colored in appearance. Dollar spots tend to thrive during drought conditions with heavy dews and in those lawns with low levels of nitrogen.

Fairy Rings
Fairy Rings


Fairy Rings:

Fairy Rings can grow in most grasses, and are distinguishable by circular rings filled with fast-growing, dark-green grass. Around the perimeter of the ring, the grass will typically turn brown and often times grow mushrooms. Fairy rings typically grow in soils that contain wood debris and/or old decaying tree stumps.

  • Getting Rid of It: The best prevention for fairy ring is to aerate the diseased area, water well in the morning hours, remove excess thatch, and follow a fertilization schedule to help increase the amount of nitrogen levels in your lawn.



Rust gets its name from the orange, "rusty"appearance it gives leaf blades. Most commonly effecting ryegrasses and Kentucky Bluegrass, rust tends to flourish in conditions of: morning dew, shade, high soil compaction, and low-fertility. The best way to check for rust problems is by taking a white tissue or paper towel and rubbing a few grass blades through it. If an orange color remains, then it's usually rust.


Grease Spot:

Grease spot can effect all grasses in humid climates and can be recognized by the slimy-brown patches that often have a white, cotton-like fungus around it. Grease Spot gets its name for the "greasy" appearance it makes while matting together and can appear in streaks across the lawn.

  • Getting Rid of It: The best prevention for Grease Spot is to aerate often, water, in the morning hours only, remove excess thatch, reduce shade on lawn, and cut-back on the nitrogen levels during fertilization. The most common fungicide used on Grease Spot is metalaxyl.
Red Thread
Red Thread


Red Thread:

Red thread is most common to Fescues, Ryegrasses, and Kentucky Bluegrasses during times of moist and cool weather. Red Thread gets its name from the pinkish-red threads that form around the leaf blades and bind them together. Eventually, the affected grass will turn brown and the red treads will be most visible when wet.

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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