I Need Help! What in the World is Killing My Grass?

Does Your Grass Look Like This in Spring?


Common Grass Problems & Diseases In Oklahoma

Following below are some of the common lawn and grass diseases affecting turf grasses in the Oklahoma City metro and surrounding area.

Thatch

Although thatch is not a lawn disease, it is widespread in Oklahoma. As mentioned, fertilizing alone will not repair this problem. A thin layer of thatch acts like mulch does in a garden. It is necessary to realize that a thatch more than one inch thick actually starves the grass from the water, sun, and nutrients it needs to flourish.

Unable to reach the soil below, the roots start to tangle and are not receiving the nutrients it needs to survive. Accordingly, over-watering and over-fertilizing can make your lawn susceptible. Grass clippings too large from infrequent mowing do not decompose quickly enough and create a barrier or thatch.

Thatch is a material layer that forms below the blades preventing the roots from taking hold in the soil. As mentioned before, a thin layer of thatch can be a good thing. Our services do not include clearing out thatch for this grass problem.

Thatch could lead to disease or fungus in your yard

Spring Dead Spot Disease

It is essential to know that not all spots in the grass indicate a disease. Spring Dead Spot is typical in Bermuda grass in Oklahoma. In most cases of this disease, the grass did recover with proper care.

Irrigation, seldom fertilizing, and herbicides do help prevent this disease. Although called a disease, Spring Dead Spot occurs through two different fungi. These fungi, Ophiosphaerella herpotricha, and Ophiosphaerella korai are the principal causing perpetrators of Spring Dead Spot in Oklahoma.

Homeowners have limited access to effective fungicides for spring dead spot control. However, these fungicides are available to professional lawn care specialists and pest control companies. We have encountered this disease before when treating lawns around the home for general pests, ticks, fleas, and termites.

LARGE PACH or BROWN SPOT DISEASE

A Large Patch, or Brown Spot, as it is commonly known, is very damaging to turf grass. Moreover, this disease is both a warm and cool-season disease.

This disease is common in Bermuda, Buffalo and tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass. Like most grass and turf diseases, it is most noticeable in early spring when weather conditions are wet and mild.

Rhyzoctonia is the fungus causing this lawn disease. Important to know is it spreads through lawnmowers, pets, the bottom of your shoes, water, and wind. Large Patch or Brown Spot infection begins in the fall when it is impossible to see and shows up in your yard as temperatures rise.

Furthermore, these circular brown patches of dead grass will have a dark ring around the edges, which is not noticeable unless the grass is wet. These “large” patches can grow from one to three feet in diameter and multiply. This disease weakens the grass due to lesions that aid in the spread of the infection.

DOLLAR SPOT DISEASE

Dollar Spot is prevalent in Oklahoma residential lawns and on golf courses. Starting out as a very small spot, many homeowners fail to identify this disease. Nevertheless, this disease will kill your grass all the way down to the roots.

Being able to survive the winter months, left undetected or untreated can lead to a large portion of the lawn dying off. Although the spots range in size from four to six inches, they can group together and become much larger in size.

In its early stages, the grass will look like the spot or area has a bleached look. Dollar spot is not necessarily a round shape and more often than not is an irregular shape.

Treating Lawn and Grass Diseases

A point often overlooked is that prevention is by far easier than treating the lawn after it is infected. We can use a fungicide to kill the fungus and help return the lawn to a healthy state. First, there are things you can do to speed the recovery and prevent infection in the future. Before the treatment or application, excess grass clippings will need to be removed. This will allow the fungicide to reach the base of the grass and attack the fungus at the root level. You will want to avoid traffic across your lawn for a day or so after application.

There is store-bought fungicide available that come in liquid or granular forms. If you choose to try to treat your lawn on your own be careful of which fungicide you purchase, some are specific to the fungus. There are all-purpose fungicides available. What we have found is most homeowners spend more time and money on over-the-counter products in the end due to multiple applications and the cost of fungicides can be high.

Conclusion

Spotting brown spots or patches does not mean that we need to kill your entire lawn and start over. If caught early we can start with treatments local to the areas where it was discovered. Treatments are successful when using a professional application or a natural fungicide if done correctly.

First and foremost, treating your lawn well is key. If possible, aerate the soil in the fall, avoid cutting your grass too short, remove as much dead grass as possible after mowing, and avoid over-watering or adding too much fertilizer.


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