Turf Fungus: An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

In the Tampa Bay area, we love our lush, beautiful lawns and tropical landscapes. However living in paradise does not come without its perils, even for our yards.

If you have noticed that parts of your lawn exhibit dead-looking, discolored or thinning patches, frayed grass blades or darkened areas of wet looking or “slimy” grass, you are likely dealing with turf fungus.

Fortunately, there are ways you can prevent or reduce turf fungus, as well as to treat it effectively.

What Turf Fungus Do We See in South Florida?

Brown patch fungus is most often seen in St. Augustine and Zoysia grass, which are both popular choices for lawns in this region. Fairy ring, Dollar Spot and Rust fungus all occur in hot weather, when heavy rainfall and high humidity are present – in other words, a typical Florida summer and fall.

The most common situations which trigger turf fungus are drought conditions or over-watering, too much mowing or fertilizer, mowing too low, and compacted soil which hinders healthy growth.

Can I Avoid Turf Fungus?

There are measures that you can take to keep your lawn healthy, and to help you to keep turf fungus away whenever possible. In fact, a few changes in how you care for your lawn may be enough to prevent or greatly reduce the incidences of lawn fungal disease.

Summer and fall weather conditions which can cause stress are a given in the Tampa Bay and Sarasota area. Therefore, the better you care for your lawn, the better the grass will be able to handle these conditions and remain fungus-free. Here are a few steps to help you to mitigate the chances of fungal diseases in your lawn:

How to Plan for Fungus Resistant Lawns:

* If you are laying new turf, choose a grass type well-suited for the region’s climate and weather conditions. These lawns are stronger and naturally more capable of fighting off the fungal spores native to the area.

* Fungus thrives in moist areas. Avoid planting grass under trees and in the shade whenever possible, instead opting for decorative options such as river rock or mulch.

Prepare Your Turf Yearly:

* Aerate your lawn once a year to break up compacted soil and allow for hydration, drainage and air flow. Further allow soil to breathe by removing areas of thick thatch.

* Rake in top-dressing annually to improve soil quality, fight disease and maximize drainage.

* Conduct a soil test to identify deficiencies in necessary nutrients that will keep your turf healthy


Feed and Water Your Turf Appropriately:

* Organic, slow-release fertilizers, applied correctly, will avoid fungus caused by both over- and under fertilizing.

* Watering early in the morning (before sunrise here in Florida) to allow water to penetrate the soil before evaporating.

* During seasons of less rain, water deeply but less frequently to encourage stronger roots.

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Maintain Your Lawn Correctly:

* Keep your mower blades sharp, and be sure that you are mowing to the right height. “Scalped” lawns are more vulnerable to fungus.

* If you do have a diseased area of your lawn, disinfect blades after mowing to reduce the spread of the fungus to healthy sections of your lawn.

You’ll find that these preventative measures will help greatly with keeping turf fungus at bay.

However, if you think that your turf may be developing a fungus or disease, call in a professional immediately. They can assist you with the most efficient and appropriate fungicide treatment to get the problem under control as quickly as possible.