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My Lawn Looks Sick – What Do I Do?

You think you’ve finally gotten your natural lawn to a good green place when disaster strikes. Why is your grass dying in patches? What’s making your grass turn yellow in the middle of summer? Is your yard sick?

Unfortunately, many diseases can affect your lawn. Funguses and other pests might wreak havoc with your grass, and you need to know what you’re dealing with to fix the problem. Let’s look at the common lawn diseases, how to identify them, and how to treat them.

How to identify lawn diseases

Gathering some basic information will make it easier to narrow down which lawn illness is doing damage. Know which kind of grass you have in your yard because different grasses are more vulnerable to different problems. Make a note of how your grass has changed. What color is the sick grass? What time of year did the problem appear? What has the weather been like? With this information, you can usually, but not always, figure out what lawn disease you’re fighting.

Common grass diseases

Brown patch

Brown patch is a fungus that affects tall fescue, bermudagrass, perennial ryegrass, bentgrass, Kentucky bluegrass, and St. Augustine grass. You’ll notice circles of dead grass up to 3 feet in diameter. Expect to see this problem when temperatures have been in the upper 60s. Moisture plays a major role in the development and spread of brown patch.

Dollar spot

Dollar spot gets its name for the small areas of yellow grass it leaves on your lawn, each about the size of an old silver dollar. You might also see growth that looks like cobwebs. Most residential grasses are vulnerable to this fungus, especially fescues, ryegrasses, bentgrasses, bluegrasses, bermudagrasses, and zoysiagrasses. Dollar spot thrives in moist weather from spring to fall.

Leaf spot

Leaf spot is associated with another lawn diseases known as melting out. Leaf spot turns grass reddish brown in the spring and fall, and the melting out occurs when the disease reaches the roots and kills the grass in the heat of summer. These fungi affect both warm-season and cool-season grass.

Gray leaf spot

Not to be confused with leaf spot, gray leaf spot is caused by a different fungus. It most commonly infects St. Augustine grass, but it now attacks annual and perennial ryegrass, as well as tall fescue. It starts out as small round spots that soon engulf the whole blade of grass. It will look like you’ve stopped watering your lawn, even if you never miss a day. Gray leaf spot likes wet and warm weather.

Pythium blight

Bentgrass and ryegrass are most vulnerable to pythium, also known as grease spot, spot blight, or cottony blight. Pythium thrives in hot and humid weather. It causes grass to feel oily, and you may see fluffy fungus that looks like cobwebs or cotton candy. Hot and humid weather gives it the perfect conditions to kill your grass, and on long hot days the damage will spread quickly.

Red Thread

It’s not hard to spot red thread growing on blades of grass or in dead patches. It mostly affects red fescue, ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, and bentgrass. Strangely enough, red thread is a symptom of the problem, not the cause. This fungus grows in soil with low levels of nitrogen, which your grass needs to survive.


It’s not hard to guess what rust fungus looks like on grass. It creates yellow, orange, and red growth that looks like rusty metal. This fungus appears in dry weather, usually in late summer or fall, when your grass isn’t getting enough nitrogen from the soil. Rust is an unsightly problem that leaves your grass open to even worse diseases. Rust affects ryegrasses, fescues, bentgrass, Kentucky bluegrass, and Zoysia.

Snow mold

It’s easy to recognize snow mold by the crusty grayish-white or whitish-pink circles it creates on your lawn. It can grow on any grass in cold weather, but you only see it when the snow melts. Pink snow mold is worse than gray snow mold, but both are bad news for your lawn.

Summer patch

Summer patch is worst for bluegrasses and fine fescues in hot weather. It causes small discolored circles at first, but you’ll see large dead patches in late summer.

Slime mold

While slime mold won’t kill your lawn, the white, gray, or purplish growth can look disgusting. They can look sticky or dry, and usually appear after heavy rain. Slime mold is just part of the life cycle for living lawns.

Treating lawn disease

Once you’ve identifies the problem, you’ll need to purchase the proper chemicals and apply them to your lawn. Remember that you can’t always see spores, so you can’t just treat the problem areas. Fungicides will kill funguses, although it may take several treatments. If the problem is nutritional, you’ll need to test your soil and make the proper adjustments. Fertilizers need to be applied with care, or you may end up doing more harm than good.

A true solution

Maintaining a natural lawn is a full-time job. Because grass is alive, it needs constant attention to keep it healthy. Either you’re taking care of your lawn yourself, or you’re paying someone to do it for you. Even if you do everything right, a drought or a fungus can show up and undo all that hard work.

Artificial grass doesn’t need all that attention. Say goodbye to the worries of lawn disease, funguses, and molds. Your yard will be green and healthy no matter the weather or temperature. Find out how advancements in synthetic turf have made it better than ever. Say goodbye to lawn problems and schedule a free estimate with Lone Star Turf.