The beautiful weather we enjoy year-round in the Sunshine State is perfect… for fungus and lawn and shrub disease, especially during these summer months. The combination of high humidity and moisture – from irrigation, rain, fog, etc. – activates lawn disease and fungus growth.
According to UF IFAS, one of the more common fungi we see in Northeast Florida is Gray Leaf Spot on St. Augustine grass, the only warm-season turfgrass affected by this disease. Gray Leaf Spot fungus slows grow-in, thins established strands, and can kill large areas of St. Augustine grass turf. To identify this disease on your lawn, look for an oblong leaf spot. You might notice the center of the spot has a gray felt-like growth of sporulation, especially after long periods of moist, warm weather. When sporulation is not present, the leaf spot might look more olive green to brown, with a dark brown border.
Unfortunately, fungus never permanently goes away; it lives in the soil and is either active or inactive, so we can only manage it by treating it as it occurs. However, there are some cultural practices that help keep fungus at bay.
Irrigation for lawn health is a delicate balance. Because hot, moist environments cause fungi to thrive, avoid late afternoon or early evening irrigation. The best practice is to irrigate early in the morning ( 2-8 a.m.) because, generally, grass dries quickly on sunny days, limiting favorable growth conditions. Although it’s best to avoid too much moisture, it’s also important to irrigate between rain events to prevent an overly dry lawn – a dry-to-wet cycle weakens turf’s ability to fight disease. Also avoid irrigating during or soon after rain. We suggest installing an inexpensive rain shutoff device to conserve water and save money.
Proper mowing can also aid in the management of lawn disease and fungus. Most importantly, mow regularly with a sharp blade on the highest setting for stronger blades of grass. As a general rule, Zoysia turf should be maintained at 1.5 to 2 inches to prevent fungus. It’s also important to clean your mower blades (trimmers, pruners, etc.) between use, bag clippings, and mow fungus-infected areas last to prevent the spread of the fungus. Also consider reducing foot traffic in the affected areas for the same reason. For shrubs, consider dipping pruners in a mild bleach solution before moving from shrub to shrub.
Trust in Trads
Remember, fungus never goes away permanently, so continual treatment and management is the only way to keep your lawn protected. When you’re in need of help, trust in Trad’s. We offer Lawn and Shrub Care programs to keep your yard in top shape and fungus managed. Our experts are highly trained and know how to proceed in unique conditions present in Northeast Florida. Our professionals work with you to create a user-friendly program that best suits your needs. Don’t waste time, or your lawn disease may get out of control. Call us today at 904-733-7488 to set up your consultation!