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Common Turf Diseases to Prevent this Winter

Posted by: Samuel Hirshfield on October 16, 2013

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Lawn care can easily be neglected during the winter months after the leaves have fallen and the tools have been locked up in the shed. When the snow melts and spring arrives, however, one must face the potential consequences of a forgotten lawn. Beware of these common turf diseases and understand how you can prevent them this fall. 

Yellow Patch

This disease affects cool-season turf-grasses, as well as bermudagrass. It flourishes during periods of cool, wet conditions such as the transitions between fall to winter and winter to spring. The diameter of yellow patches ranged from 6 inches to 1 yard. Growth of the Yellow Patch fungus, rhizoctonia cerealis, is promoted by excessive moisture and high nitrogen content. If you notice yellow patch developing in your yard, try installing a French drain to disperse excessive moisture caused by drainage issues.

Large Patch

Large patch typically manifests itself during the transition into and out of the winter season. It plagues warm season turf-grasses like bermudagrass. Ideal conditions for growth are wet and shaded sites were moisture is continually available and temperature ranges between 50ºF (10ºC) and 70ºF (21ºC). Most Large Patch incidences occur in the fall but can impact your grass all the way into next spring if not properly addressed. To encourage your grass to recover from the damaging patches, avoid excessive irrigation and thatch buildup.

Snow Mold

This sounds like the scariest of the common lawn plagues, but alas, it is not. Snow Mold is relatively non-harmful to your grass, despite its incredible unsightliness. The mold develops after a large snow when the conditions beneath the snowfall make your grass a habitable place for the fungus to grow. This growth tends to take place when snow cover lasts more than 40 days and temperatures hover around freezing point. Thankfully, snow mold is no cause for extraordinary measures. When spring arrives give your yard a rake and some fertilizer, and the mold should disappear on its own.

How do I prevent disease on my lawn?

According to Clemson University, the best precautions to take for prevention of common lawn diseases are as follows:

  • Avoid high rates of nitrogen fertilizer on cool-season grasses in the late spring and summer. 

  • Avoid high nitrogen rates on warm-season grasses in mid to late fall or in early spring. The disease-causing fungus readily attacks the lush growth of grass which nitrogen promotes. 

  • Avoid fast-release forms of nitrogen fertilizer.

  • Irrigate grass only when needed and to a depth of 4 to 6 inches (generally 1 inch of irrigation water per week), but do not subject the lawn to drought conditions. If you do live in a dry check out our post on Fire Resistant Landscaping.

  • Water early in the morning. Disease can spread fast when free moisture is present, especially greater than 10 hours.

  • Avoid spreading the disease to other areas. Remove clippings if the weather is warm and moist to prevent spread to other areas during mowing. Chipper Shredders are perfect for clearing and getting rid of extra debris.

  • Keep lawns mowed on a regular basis to the proper height for the grass species you are growing. Lower than optimum mowing height can increase disease severity.

  • Provide good drainage for both surface and subsurface areas. Correct soil compaction by core aeration

  • Prevent excessive thatch buildup.

    Have the soil tested, and apply lime according to test recommendations. Disease may be more severe if the soil pH is less than 6.0.

 

Find a Compact Power Equipment Rental at a Home Depot near you to ready your lawn for this coming winter. 


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What are some turf problems that you have encountered during the winter? Feel free to post your answers in the comments below.
Tags: DIY, winter, turf, turf diseases, french drain, installing a french drain, yellow patch, snow mold, chipper shredder, fire resistant landscaping, core aeration, equipment rental