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Common Turf Diseases

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 2 Aug 2013 | comments*Discuss
Common Turf Diseases Treating Lawn

There are many different types of lawn disease that can rear their heads during the lifetime of your lawn. Some of these are easily curable and tend not to return but others are more troublesome and can take more effort to get rid of.

Fairy Rings

These can occur in any turf or grass lawn and present themselves as a circular discoloration of grass varying in size from several inches up to several feet in diameter. Toadstools may appear around the edge of the rings during humid or wet weather - hence the name - and if left untreated for a period of time may kill the infected patch of turf or grass. It some instances the particular patch of turf or grass may become so infected that the only way to cure the problem is to cut away the patch of damaged grass and replace it with a new one.

Red Thread

From the Latin Laestisaria fuciformis, Red Thread is a fungal disease that attacks grass and has the appearance of irregular patches of reddish hued grass. With a closer inspection you should see that the infected leaves have a small reddish spike protruding on their tips. The roots of the infected leaves are not normally affected by this disease so recovering is a fairly simply procedure but the infection normally rears its head in later summer months where there are periods of high humidity and where soil is compacted due to general wear and tear rendering it short of nitrogen. Regular feeding with a lawn feed that will provide significant levels of Nitrogen should cure this problem.

Dollar Spot

Dollar spot manifests itself as silvery-grey spots appearing on your lawn in sizes varying from one to six inches in diameter. Sometimes these spots can intermingle causing larger areas of grass to appear damaged. Dollar spot is generally caused by a lack of moisture in the soil and/ or a lack of nitrogen. Again regular feeding of the lawn should help prevent any further occurrences of this problem.

Toadstools / Puffballs

These are common garden fungi that begin as air borne spores and which can settle anywhere in the garden. On the lawn, however, they thrive especially if there is a high level of Thatch left under the grass and between the base of the grass and the soil. Thatch provides humidity and heat for these spores to grow and manifest themselves as Toadstools and Puffballs. Regular raking will ensure that the amount of Thatch - or dead grass - is kept to a minimum.


As the name might suggest this is a fungal disease that manifests itself by changing the grass colour from green to yellow and then as late summer approaches as yellow or brown spots on the leaves of grass. Rust thrives in warm damp conditions and heavy dew can lead to the problem occurring. It is most common in lawns where Nitrogen is in short supply so regular feeding with a feed that is designed for Nitrogen-deficient lawns should cure the problem.These are the most common forms of lawn disease and can affect both grass and turf lawns alike.

How Can I Prevent These Common Lawn Diseases?

Here are just a few of the things that can go a long way to cutting down on instances of the aforementioned lawn diseases.
  • Regular Mowing
  • Raking to remove Thatch
  • Regular feeding
  • Aerate your lawn on a regular basis
  • Scarify your lawn on a regular basis
  • Remove fallen leaves and other garden debris

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I have lived in my present location for 43 years and have always had a beautiful lawn. Now my back yard is turning yellow in different areas, I sent in a sample of the dying lawn to Oregon State University and they told me the I had snow mold. I have treated the areas with several different fungicides and am still having grass turning yellow. Also I have grass that looks healthy, but the root system is actually pulling out of the soil. I have worked on these problems this entire year without to much success. HELP!
Larry - 2-Aug-13 @ 3:09 PM
I have an uneven lawn, due to his I,ve been strimming and raking after cutting. This last year had become very time consuming and an inconvienience ! Now after some I'll health I would like to buy a mower, which do you think best for n uneven lawn. Ihave read advice on our site and will be getting some of they topping,soil and new seed. Also he lawn is looking dreadful?! Parts are bare, some is long, and dead I wonder if this is because it became to difficult for my health and caring for the lawn? I realise it could be the soil type. At close inspection here is some new growth from seed I put own...last year?! So...as you can see I need lots of help and would be greatful for it. With many thanks. Bev.
Lawn novice needing - 1-Apr-13 @ 12:08 AM
recently laid newturf brown/reddish patches have appeared in quite afew places ,only been been down 8 weeks ,any help regarding this problem wouldbe greatly appreciated ,be it recomended professional help or a solution wouldnitrogen help ,the turf was laid on GROWMORE to help with its growth
al - 3-Jul-12 @ 5:53 PM
Due to all the rain recently my lawn is growing very well and I have been unable to cut it. I have noticed that many blades of grass have become yellow from the tip to about half way down the blades.Is this due to a mineral deficiency or another problem?
basseyboy - 5-May-12 @ 2:21 PM
Help - I had new turf laid last October - and I think I have fusarium Patch - I don't know what to do first to improve the lawn. Do I top dress with sand after making holes with a fork all over it, I read that you should apply sulphate of iron? When do I re-seed or do I just give up and have the lawn removed and re-turfed? It looks awful and I feel overwelmed by the problem as a novice gardener.
kim - 12-Mar-12 @ 10:04 PM
What is cumberland turf and does it include rye grass? Many thanks! David Dee
dosser - 1-Jul-11 @ 9:57 PM
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