This summer has provided the lawn care industry with a lot of challenges. While we can control the products used and application technique, we cannot control the weather. Heat, humidity, and rain have caused an outbreak in turf diseases in the Wabash Valley. We wanted to take some time to share what some common trends we are experiencing in lawn care.
You may ask “Why does my lawn have the disease and the house down the street does not?” That neighbor may have a different type of grass, less shade, mow at the proper height of 3.5 inches, have better air flow, etc. We first need to identify the disease and understand all factors involved.Disease Triangle
An easy way to understand why diseases in turf occurs is to look at what is called “The Disease Triangle”. If one side of the disease triangle is missing, a disease will not cause a problem. The three sides are:
- Host Component- the plant must be susceptible to disease. Depending on the type of grass in your lawn, you may be more at risk than others.
- Pathogen Component- the disease pathogen must be present.
- Environmental Component- conditions must be favorable.
Understanding the triangle can allow us to easily identify how diseases spread and attack lawns.
Some grass types are more susceptible to diseases than others. Overall, Kentucky Bluegrass is the most high at risk, while turf type fescue has more disease resistance. Knowing what kind of grass is present in the lawn can be a key to identifying the disease. Some diseases will not affect certain grasses.
During the heat, grass stops growing as fast. Most turf grasses have diseases in the spring months but go unnoticed because we are mowing so frequently. As the summer heat stress slows growing, the diseases can become more apparent and noticeable. Once it cools off and the turf starts growing, you will see significant improvement.
Many diseases thrive based on the fertility of the soil. Diseases can become an issue depending on the grass type and soil fertility. If too little nitrogen is present, the turf may become more be more susceptible to disease, recover slower, and have a longer outbreak of symptoms. Our “Healthy Basic Lawn Program” is designed to carefully manage the amount of nitrogen applied throughout the year.
This summer has been unusually wet. Jessie over at Channel 2 has been talking about the record rainfall we have had in the last 3 months. Combine the rain with the humidity and you have the perfect disease growing condition. Turf diseases are a fungus, or mold. The hot, humid, and wet summer months has been the perfect environment for turf diseases to thrive.
Treating a turf disease is very similar to treating a cold. We can apply a fungicide if desired, however, that will only be treating the symptoms. We also compare lawns getting diseases to human diseases. We have no explanation as to why I get a cold but my wife does not and we live in the same house. In most cases, the disease will not kill the turf. Once the temperature drops and humidity settles, we will see significant improvement in the lawn.
Over the last 28 years, we have worked with many national, regional, and local organizations to stay educated and informed in the lawn care industry. One of our most reliable resources we have is Purdue University. Their free publication, Turfgrass Disease Profile
, is a great way to learn more about turf diseases.
Working with turf and lawns is very scientific. Everything that we say and do has a scientific reason behind it. We have to understand the full biology of the plant, the environment, and cultural practices to properly address any issues. If we inspect a lawn and come to the conclusion that a turf disease is present, we will let you know why, how, and what can be done.