A Pain In The Grass: Preventing Grass Diseases From Infecting And Damaging Buffalo Grass Lawns

Environmental Blog

Buffalo grass may be one of the most popular choices of turf around, but this popularity isn't without good cause -- when well laid and well cared for, buffalo grass lawns require little maintenance and are capable of withstanding just about anything the world can throw at it, from heavy foot traffic to inclement weather and even snowfall.

However, buffalo grass is not invulnerable, and it is vulnerable to a number of plant diseases which can quickly infect and spread across your lawn. If left untreated these diseases can cause widespread and potentially irreversible damage to your buffalo lawn, but fortunately there are a range of easy and efficient ways to deal with these unwelcome illnesses. Here are some of the most common diseases that can infect buffalo grass lawns, along with ways they can be fought:

Fairy rings

Probably the most distinctive and easily identified type of grass disease, fairy rings manifest as irregular and gradually expanding rings of dying, discoloured grass. This ring is often surrounded by another ring of accelerated grass growth, and at certain times of year visible mushrooms and toadstools can appear around the ring.

These toadstools provide the best clue that your lawn is suffering from a fungal infection, so employing fungicidal lawn treatments as soon as you can is generally the best step. However, fairy rings are caused by a diverse and hardy array of fungal species, so even extensive fungicidal treatment is unlikely to thoroughly wipe out the infection. Your best bet when tackling fairy rings, therefore, is damage limitation -- the dying ring of grass in a fairy ring is caused by a waterproof chemical coating released by the fungal growths, and properly aerating, watering and fertilising the dying ring can bring it back into fighting trim remarkably quickly. Combine this with plucking toadstools as soon as they appear (being careful not to accidentally spread their spores) and a fairy ring infection can be effectively suppressed until it naturally diminishes.

Dollar spot

A scourge common to lawn enthusiasts the world over, dollar spot is characterised by small, round patches of dying, yellowing grass, which are often distributed across your lawn to give it a 'polka dot' look. Another disease caused by fungal pathogens, dollar spot can be conclusively diagnosed by the presence of lesions on the leaves of grass, and by the small, silk-like threads of fungal matter that are left behind on the blades.

Unlike fairy rings, dollar spot is caused by a single class of fungal growths, which makes tackling them with fungicides much more effective. Fungicides containing the chemical myclobutanil are particularly effective and should be applied during the summer months when the fungal infection is at its most active. Preventing dollar spot is more difficult, but steady and even distribution of plant fertilisers (remember not to use too much) can keep your grass healthy enough to fight off the infection itself.

Powdery mildew

The name of this disease is somewhat self-explanatory -- a lawn infected with powdery mildew will develop deposits of dust-like mildew, starting off as small and isolated spots but eventually spreading to infect your entire lawn if left untreated. The damage caused by mildew can cause grass to die and rot quickly, and the disease can quickly spread to other plants in your garden, including vegetables, ornamental flowers and even shrubs and trees. It also spreads particularly quickly in shady areas.

The good news is that powdery mildew has a nemesis, and one that you probably already have in your home -- bicarbonate of soda. When mixed into a solution of water and applied liberally to your lawn, the bicarbonate subtly changes the pH of your soil. This pH change is not severe enough to affect your grass, but quickly and reliably kills the mildew spores, which are very sensitive to pH changes. You should also make sure to apply the solution around the edges of your lawn and on any other plants which have been infected.


14 September 2016

Saving energy easily

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