With this summer’s extreme humidity, lawn fungus has become a severe issue in Northwest Indiana. As with any region with varying climates, NWI is considered by experts as a humid continental climate. This means it experiences hot and humid summers and cold winters. These weather conditions can create an environment conducive to high levels of lawn fungus. Sometimes referred to as grass herpes by lawn care professionals, lawn fungus is not a laughing matter.
Now compound the issue with this spring’s drought, followed by the last three years of near-drought conditions, and this year’s lawn fungus epidemic could end in an ugly finish… no pun intended!
Spring Drought & Summer’s High Humidity
With this year’s extreme weather, Northwest Indiana lawns can’t catch a break. It started with spring’s drought conditions. After 3 consecutive years of near-drought conditions, this spring’s drought couldn’t have come at a worse time. According to Steve Daly of Perma-Green, a lawn can only take so much before plants start dying. Daly leveraged his Perma-Green website, blogs, and podcasts as a
means of educating NWI homeowners on the significance of watering correctly.
Just as Daly finished educating his community on best-practice watering depending on the different soil types, we are thrown yet another low blow. Humidity!
Heat, excessive humidity, and moisture fuel the spread of fungi associated with leaf spot, dollar spot, necrotic ring spot, brown/summer patch, and red thread, just to name a few.
Editors Note| This article uses the description, Lawn Fungus, Lawn Herpes and Grass Fungus Treatment. Daly likes to use the description, Turfgrass Disease, which is commonly used by lawn care professionals.
Daly’s Podcast, Get Green Northwest Indiana takes on Lawn Fungus & High Humidity
High humidity and warm temperatures during the summer can promote the growth of fungi like dollar spot, brown patch, and red thread. Meanwhile, the presence of snow mold may become an issue during the colder winter months when snow covers the grass for extended periods.
To learn more about lawn fungus, listen to NWI’s podcast called, Get Green, Northwest Indiana | Lawn Care Solutions with Steve Daly. But as a supplement to his blog, Daly and his Perma-Green team offers you the below guide to how to care for your lawn this humid season.
The Good, the Bad, the Ugly! | Lawn Fungus and Your Turf!
Lawn fungus refers to various types of fungal infections that can affect the grass in your lawn or yard. Fungi are a natural part of the ecosystem and play important roles in decomposition and nutrient cycling. However, when certain fungi become overly abundant or conditions are favorable for their growth, they can cause problems for your lawn.
But according to Daly, the best defense is a strong defense offense, or at least when it applies to your lawn. Much like why a strong, healthy lawn will intimidate weed growth, the best approach to preventing lawn fungus from damaging your lawn is best-practice lawn care, such as a full-season lawn care plan, mowing correctly, and watering your lawn right.
For more on watering, check out Daly’s 3 part podcast on watering your lawn, or read his blog called, Guide to Watering Lawn in Northwest Indiana
Common types of Northwest Indiana Lawn Fungus:
Dollar Spot: This fungus causes small, silver-dollar-sized spots on the grass blades, usually during periods of high humidity and low nitrogen levels in the soil.
Brown Patch: Brown patch fungus creates circular patches of brown or tan grass, often with a darker outer ring. It thrives in warm, humid weather and can spread quickly.
Fairy Ring: Fairy ring fungus forms circular, dark green rings in the grass, often with mushrooms or puffballs growing along the outer edge.
Powdery Mildew: Powdery mildew appears as a white, powdery substance on the grass blades, particularly in shaded and damp areas.
Red Thread: This fungus creates reddish threads on the grass blades and can cause patches of dead or weak-looking grass.
Snow Mold: Snow mold fungi are active during the winter and cause circular patches of dead, matted grass as the snow melts in the spring.
Necrotic Ring: Necrotic ring spot is a common disease of turf caused by soil-borne fungi that mainly infects roots. It destroys the appearance of turfgrasses.
Summer Patch Disease: Summer patch-diseased bluegrass initially takes on a yellow color, then becomes brown as affected plants die.
How to Prevent & Manage NWI Lawn Fungus from High Humidity
Typically, a full-season lawn care and aeration program that is customized to your lawn’s soil requirements will support your lawn with the necessary nutrients throughout the season.
According to a representative from Perma-Green’s inside support team, lawn fungus can be prevented or controlled through various measures, such as best-practice lawn maintenance. These include regular mowing, appropriate watering, providing adequate drainage, and ensuring proper soil health with the right nutrients. To prevent and manage lawn fungus in Northwest Indiana, homeowners should implement proper lawn care practices. These may include:
Mowing: Keep your lawn at the recommended height for the specific grass type, as cutting it too short can stress the grass and make it more susceptible to fungal attacks.
Watering: Water deeply and infrequently, preferably in the early morning, to allow the grass to dry before evening and prevent prolonged periods of moisture that favor fungal growth.
Aeration: Periodic aeration can help improve soil drainage and reduce the chances of fungal problems.
Fertilization: Properly fertilize the lawn to maintain good grass health and resilience.
Remove Debris: Regularly clean up leaves, thatch, and other debris from the lawn, as these can provide a breeding ground for fungal spores.
Proper Plant Selection: Choose grass types that are well-suited to the climate and soil conditions in Northwest Indiana, as healthier grass is more resistant to diseases.
To help the Northwest Indiana community with best-practice lawn maintenance, you’ll want to check out Perma-Green’s useful table and charts for NWI lawn care. They also have numerous other tools for helping you keep your turf healthy and strong.
Turf Grass Disease | Lawn Fungass Treatment!
Despite best efforts, lawn fungus can still occur, especially with this summer’s high humidity. If you notice signs of lawn fungus, such as discolored patches or unusual growths, it’s essential to take action promptly. Identifying the specific fungus is crucial for choosing the most effective lawn fungus treatment.
Fungicides may also be used to treat severe cases, but they are best used in combination with other cultural practices. If you suspect your lawn has a fungus problem, it’s essential to properly identify the type of fungus to apply the most appropriate treatment. A senior-level lawn care company with certification through Turfgrass Science at Purdue University, such as Perma-Green, can help you identify the specific fungus and recommend suitable remedies for your lawn.
Written by Jim Jano Janesheski
Bonus | Full Season Lawn Care Table