Cultural practices affect lawn diseases severity
Spring has arrived and homeowners are anxious to get busy working on their lawns and landscapes. As the turf is breaking dormancy, we have the tendency to push things along a little faster than necessary with many of our cultural practices of fertilizing, watering, and mowing.
The cool nights and warm days along with spring showers provide the ideal environment for many turf pathogens that can wreak havoc to a lawn during this period. Being a little cautious with the cultural practices we perform on the lawn during this time can help reduce the severity of these diseases.
Leaf wetness and excess nitrogen fertilization are the two major factors ideally suited for disease proliferation. Therefore, we should not be too quick to apply heavy rates of fertilizer to our lawns, particularly highly water soluble sources of nitrogen that provides quick flushes of growth.
If the lawn needs water, applying irrigation early in the day allows the leaves to dry before nightfall. Irrigating thoroughly once or twice a week rather than a little daily will help reduce the time the foliage remains wet.
Avoid mowing when the lawn is wet to help reduce the spread of pathogens and compaction of the soil.
Mowing at the optimum mowing height for each specific turf species also keeps the turf in a much healthier state.
Use fungicides when necessary to suppress active pathogen proliferation.
Published April 12, 2010
Dr. Wayne Wells is an Extension Professor and Turfgrass Specialist. His mailing address is Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, Mail Stop 9555, Mississippi State, MS 39762. firstname.lastname@example.org