Lawn Patch Diseases: Why They Happen and What You Can Do

From time to time, lawns may develop deadened patches that are lighter in color and weaker than the surrounding plants. This causes your lawn to have an irregular, uneven appearance that is neither pleasant to look at nor particularly easy to treat. 

In order to start treating a patchy lawn, the root issue must be identified. Lawn patches happen for various reasons, and diseases rank among the most common. Common patch diseases include:

  • Summer Patch: This occurs mostly in the summer due to drier-than-normal soil. Patches can range from 6 to 12 inches in diameter and turn brown as it thins down. Left untreated, Summer Patch could cause all the grass on your lawn to die and become infested with weeds. 
  • Rhizoctonia Blight: This is a lawn disease that develops in hot weather. A fungus called Rhizoctonia solani produces rough, circular patches on the lawn around 1 to 3 feet in diameter. In humid weather, edges of the patches may develop a darker shade, which is why it is sometimes called a “smoke ring”. 
  • Necrotic Ring Spots: This is a disease that mostly affects Kentucky bluegrass, one of the most highly maintained grass types. The disease is caused by fungi that are active in the spring and fall. Patches can range anywhere from 6 to 24 inches in diameter that also develop a red tone around the outer portion. Getting rid of Necrotic Ring Spot is difficult, sometimes taking over 2-4 years to fully treat.

Other Causes of Lawn Patch

Diseases aren’t the only reason lawn patches form. Sometimes it can be attributed to mechanical problems or developed through animals, such as dog spots. 

Before treating your lawn for anything, it’s important to identify the cause and eliminate any non-disease issues like dog spots (essentially, dog urine), scalping (from mowing too low), or drought. Other factors that can aggravate patch disease include thatch (tough, clumpy patches of grass), high humidity, compacted soil, and excess fertilizer.

Treating Lawn Patches

Once the non-disease causes have been eliminated and the patches remain present, you can begin taking the steps to treat the patches through other means. 

The most important thing to do in treating and preventing lawn patches is getting rid of thatch and maintaining the roots. All areas containing thatch should be removed and the soil should be treated to provide to enough oxygen, water, and nutrients. Soil aeration and small amounts of fertilizer can help accomplish this. 

Be careful not to apply too much moisture or fertilizer to the soil. Balance it out with overseeding so that new grass can grow and “choke out” the old grass. You can also apply fungicide to the area to prevent fungi-related lawn patches from resurfacing.

Not treating your lawn for patches puts your home at risk for attracting other types of soil-destroying fungi that could eventually lead to damages to the home. Treating your lawn for diseases and avoiding other harmful instances helps extend the life of your lawn and lead to an improved landscape.

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