Good Cultural Practices Help Reduce Lawn Diseases (4-25-11)
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Spring flowers, showers and temperatures encouage us to get busy working on our lawns and landscapes. As the turf begins 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 wreck havoc on a lawn during this period. Being a little cautious with the cultural practices, we can work on the lawn now to reduce the severity of these diseases.
Leaf wetness and excess nitrogen fertilization are the two major factors ideally suited for disease proliferation. Therefore, do not be too quick to apply heavy rates of fertilizer to lawns, particularly highly water soluble sources of nitrogen that provides quick flushes of growth.
If the lawn does need water, applying irrigation early in the day allows the leaves to dry before nightfall and watering 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 25, 2011
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