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Fungal Disease in Bluegrass Lawns


Twenty years ago, it was a rarity to see fungal disease widespread across home lawns. These problems were usually found on high stress sports fields, greens, and heavily watered fairways when climate conditions moved the needle into dangerous territory. With housing developments quickly emerging and with modern home construction typically having a negative effect on the soil quality, low fertility of exposed subsoil and severe soil compaction set up a perfect storm for fungal disease. 

The most popular turfgrass for use in the home lawn is typically a cultivar of Kentucky Bluegrass, a cool season grass that does not do well in light soil or heat. Unable to tolerate drought well, bluegrass sod suffers injury and in its weakened state is susceptible, in fact, prone to disease. As another important variable, Iowa’s climate and ever-changing weather conditions are problematic. Kentucky Bluegrass prefers stability and by late spring, turfgrass is usually already under stress, well before drought conditions may cause concern. At this very pivotal time, even walking across the lawn in the afternoon heat can be the tipping point. Our summer season greets us with heat and humidity, both further stressing the turfgrass and creating the perfect environment for the pathogen to grow, all this compounding at the same time. 

Protect Your Lawn Against Fungal Diseases

The best protection against disease is to adhere to best management practice in fertilization, core aeration, correct watering and mowing. Sometimes, correct management is not enough, and an early fungicide application will be needed. If you water the lawn you may need two treatments to cover the summer season in full. Fungicide applications need to be made as a preventative in early spring, prior to the disease flare up. Curative treatments can be made after the disease has become visible, but they are more expensive and less effective. Use of fungicides at this point may curb the spread but are not likely to cure disease that has already become apparent with spots, blotches, or rings of dead turfgrass.

Important to note is that annual core aeration is the best cultural practice to prevent fungal disease. Mowing too short and improper watering are also variables that can be controlled. The weather is another issue altogether and if we experience such extreme fluctuations these problems will continue. If you would like us to provide fungicide applications please let us know so that we can plan accordingly. Please let us know if we can offer more information for your specific location.

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Tompkins Lawn Care, Inc 
3956 – 120th St NE
Solon, IA 52333 

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OFFICE: (319) 331-9357