It is easy to spot the fungal lawn diseases if you know what you are looking for.
There are three main lawn diseases that commonly afflict gardens in Gauteng (and elsewhere in South Africa). Spot them early, however, and you can easily save your lawn. All are caused by fungus and can be treated with fungicides.
Common lawn diseases in SA, and what to look for:
1. BROWN SPOT – proliferates in hot, humid weather and in wet summer lawns
How to spot ‘Brown Spot’ lawn disease: look for circular patches of yellow of brown grass in your lawn. They start off small – just a few centimetres across but grow in size quickly as they multiply across your lawn. As the disease progresses outward, the grass in the middle of the patch may start to recover. This creates a ‘ring’ – similar in appearance to ringworm in human skin.
The earlier you spot this common lawn disease, the better, as the fungus that causes ‘brown spot’ can infect the soil – and next summer’s newly laid lawn.
2. RUST – common in overwatered lawns. Weeds density and overcast weather promote rust – which can also infect bedding plants round your lawn.
How to spot ‘Rust’ lawn disease: look for yellowing blades of grass and patches of grass with a faded or sunburnt appearance. Catch rust early by keeping an eye out for mushrooms in the early morning. If you see a cluster of mushrooms pop up in your lawn, you can be sure the conditions are perfect for rust disease to infect your grass.
3. DOLLAR SPOT – infects nitrogen-low, underwatered lawns. Proliferates in dry soils, in humid climates.
How to spot ‘Dollar Spot’ lawn disease: look for straw-coloured, and often sunken patches in your lawn. Dollar spot can take hold in areas where the soil has dried out. Inspect your lawn carefully in humid weather after a hot, dry spell.
You can help to prevent lawn disease by correct fertilising and watering. However, lawn disease is common, and the best defence is to spot it early.