As the saying goes, April showers bring May flowers. All of that refreshing spring rain helps your plants begin to grow after their quick snooze in the colder months. Unfortunately, when your grass turns lush and green again, you’re more likely to notice the signs of lawn diseases that snuck up on your unsuspecting lawn during the winter.
Types of Grass in Oklahoma
The type of grass has a big impact on its susceptibility to many common lawn diseases. Some species of turfgrass are more resistant to diseases than others, so it’s important to know what your lawn is made of so you can be aware of the risks.
Bermuda grass –A warm season turfgrass known for its drought tolerance and resistance to disease, bermuda grass is the most commonly planted grass variety in Oklahoma. It is best for areas that receive direct sunlight.
Buffalo grass – The best variety for unirrigated lawns and general turf areas, buffalo grass thrives in areas that get plenty of sun and it’s very tolerant of both drought and disease.
Zoysiagrass – Although it’s desirable for its winter hardiness and ability to grow in partially shaded areas, zoysiagrass requires more frequent watering than bermuda and buffalo grasses and it is slightly more susceptible to common lawn diseases.
Cool-season turfgrasses – Species such as tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass are great for shady areas. These less sturdy varieties are most susceptible to lawn disease.
Common Lawn Diseases
The following are lawn diseases that commonly affect lawns in the Oklahoma City metro area and how to identify the signs of a problem.
Although not technically a disease, excessive amounts of thatch can mean serious problems for your lawn. Thatch is a layer of undecomposed roots and stems that forms between the soil and the base of turfgrass. A thin layer of thatch can be beneficial and provide soil with insulation against extreme temperatures and moisture.
However, when the production of plant tissue exceeds the rate of decomposition, excessive layers of thatch can form. Bermuda grass and zoysia grass are most prone to this phenomenon.
This thick layer of dead plant matter can prevent moisture, nutrients, and air from reaching the soil at root level. When this occurs, roots don’t grow as deep, which can cause your lawn to thin out and appear patchy. Thick thatch is also known to harbor disease-causing fungi and insects. It can also reduce the effectiveness of fungicides and insecticides when the chemicals become trapped within the thick plant matter rather than reaching the soil.
Spring Dead Spot
Spring Dead Spot is a disease most commonly seen in bermuda grass in spring and early summer as it comes out of dormancy. It rarely affects buffalo and zoysia grasses in Oklahoma. The fungus that causes Spring Dead Spot silently attacks your lawn in the fall, and you won’t be able to see the symptoms from above.
The injuries caused by the fungus make your bermuda grass more likely to die when the cold winter months roll around. This causes the affected areas to appear dead when the rest of your lawn turns green in the spring.
Identifying Spring Dead Spot
Dead patches of white, bleach-colored grass ranging from three inches to several feet in diameter are characteristic of Spring Dead Spot. The circular patches may appear sporadically across your lawn or may overlap and cover a much larger area.
Crabgrass and other weeds may begin to appear in the dead areas, but over time your aggressively-growing bermuda grass will usually grow over the patches by late summer following proper lawn maintenance. Raking debris from the affected areas can also help to speed up recovery.
Large Patch or Brown Spot
Large Patch, also commonly known as Brown Spot, is one of the most damaging diseases affecting turfgrasses. This disease is common in both warm-season (bermuda, zoysia, Buffalo) and cool-season (tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass) species of turfgrass, and is most noticeable in early spring when weather conditions are wet and mild.
Rhyzoctonia, the fungus that is to blame for this lawn disease, spreads through the movement of affected plant parts or soil by lawn mowers, pets, the bottom of your shoes, and even water and wind. Like Spring Dead Spot, Large Patch infection begins in the fall when symptoms aren’t visible and pops up in your yard as temperatures get warmer.
Identifying Large Patch
Large Patch presents as circular, brown patches of dead grass surrounded by a narrow, dark ring that is most visible when the grass is wet. These patches can be anywhere from one to three feet in diameter and rapidly grow outward from a central point.
Large Patch also causes lesions on the blades of grass within the diseased area. These lesions make the turf more susceptible to disease and aid in the rapid spread of infection.
Dollar Spot is a disease that many homeowners may not take seriously at first. Due to the small nature of the affected areas, this disease may not look serious, but in reality, it kills your turfgrass all the way down to the root. These small spots can quickly spread across your entire yard, killing your grass in its wake.
The aggressive fungus that causes Dollar Spot survives the cold winter months in plant parts found in thatch and soil. As temperatures warm up in early spring, areas with low soil moisture and high humidity become breeding grounds for the fungus and the spread of the disease.
Identifying Dollar Spot
Dollar Spot is known for its characteristic silver-dollar shaped dead patches that range from 1-6 inches in diameter. The diseased areas will have a distinct, circular shape and can grow together to form larger dead patches.
Like Large Patch, Dollar Spot causes lesions on the individual blades. The lesions caused by this disease are tan or reddish-brown in color, hour-glass shaped, and span the entire width of the blade of grass. Lawn reseeding will most likely be needed to refurbish your lawn after a serious Dollar Spot infection.
Lawn Disease Treatment and Prevention
Almost all lawn diseases can be prevented with the implementation of proper lawn management practices. To ensure that your turfgrass is reaching its full potential, you will need correct and timely fertilization, watering, mowing, and pest control.
Acenitec’s 6-Step Lawn Care Program
Acenitec provides a 6-step year-round lawn care and weed control program that can be customized to the needs of your individual lawn. Our tailored combination of fertilization, aeration, and weed control can help keep your lawn beautiful and disease-free all year long.
If you notice signs of disease on your lawn this spring, contact us for a free phone consultation to discuss your specific needs. Interested in receiving Acenitec news, tips, and discounts? Sign up for our quarterly email newsletter!