Keeping Your Grass Healthy

While fungus naturally occurs in grass and can be harmless, certain conditions can cause these fungi to become harmful diseases to your grass.  Weather conditions, especially temperature and humidity, can make certain fungi flare up, and too much rain or drought can also cause disease.  Mowing too low of a setting and cutting the grass off closer to the roots can make it more susceptible to fungus, and large amounts of fertilizer can green up your lawn quickly, but too much nitrogen can lower grass’ defense against disease.  Here are some tips to help prevent disease in your lawn:

 - Aerate your yard every couple of years.  This loosens the soil and allows grass to put down stronger roots, as well as allows more oxygen and water into the ground.

 - De-thatch your yard. Removing excess grass clippings and debris allows better absorption of water and drainage of excess water.

 - Apply a layer of top-dress. This will also help drainage and improve the soil.

 - Install a rain gauge.  Lawns need 1 inch of water per week, so when natural rainfall isn’t giving you enough water, make sure you are watering grass. When watering grass, early morning is best, it allows the grass to dry and doesn’t scorch the grass in the mid-day sun, and late evening can be problematic when temperatures drop overnight and there is still frost on the grass.

 - Put in a plant bed.  If there is an area that is having trouble growing grass due to poor drainage or other issues, consider cutting out the grass and putting in a bed with some plants that are hardier and like the conditions in that part of your yard.

If fungus does occur, there are several types, so identify which kind you have first.  Organic fungicides are specialized for different kinds of fungi, and while they will not help your grass to re-grow they will reduce the fungal spores and allow you to use some of the best practices listed above to bring your grass back to a healthy state.