Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Brown Patches in the Lawn

This year's rainy spring and early summer (with the potential for yet more rain in the upcoming week) has been a great boost to fungal diseases in area lawns. One fungus in particular that can mar the green expanse that so many homeowners have worked hard to achieve is Rhizoctonia solani, which causes the disease called Brown Patch. The Rhizoctonia fungus thrives in warm, wet conditions.

In the recent Georgia FACES article "Too Much Moisture Can Bring Brown Patch Disease to Lawns," Extension Agent Paul Pugliese explains the disease's appearance:
"Circular patches of dead grass that range from a few inches to several feet in diameter occur during periods of high humidity and warm temperatures (75ºF to 85ºF)...Brown areas of dead grass are surrounded by a reddish-brown or purplish halo. After two to three weeks, the center area of the brown grass may recover and turn green, resulting in a doughnut shape of dead brown grass."
Pugliese also offers advice for improving the health of the lawn to help it resist attack by this and other plant diseases:
  1. Don't apply excessive amounts of nitrogen fertilizers.
  2. Water early in the morning to allow grass foliage to dry before nightfall.
  3. Mow the lawn slightly higher than normal during periods of excessively high heat conditions.
  4. Avoid or remove excess thatch from the lawn.
  5. Mow your lawn often enough that no more than one-third of the grass height is removed in a single mowing. 
 For a fuller explanation of how to control the Brown Fatch fungus in lawns, see the complete article at this link.