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Healthy Grass under Your Tootsies

It isn’t summer until the kids are running around on the green lawn in bare feet and tank tops. Of course, in the land of endless summers (like in Bryan-College Station and most of the southwest), it’s tank top weather year-round! High temperatures and unpredictable precipitation make lawn maintenance a tricky proposition. This combination invites all manner of creeping, crawling and rapidly expanding pests that can take over your lawn faster than you can find your flip-flops.

Fungus Grows on Texas Lawns

St. Augustine grass is popular as a Texas turf material because it grows thick and green with proper lawn care. It’s also cushy and not too tickly on bare feet. However, this grass type is also susceptible to pest problems, especially when forces of nature conspire to create a cozy environment for fungal growth. Other grass types including Bahia and Bermuda can harbor some fungus growth given high temperatures, waterlogged soils and alternating wet and dry periods.

Getting to Know the Fungus Factors

Unlike broad leaf weeds, fungus makes its presence known in strange and varied ways. For instance, brown patch fungi start as barely conspicuous brown rings on the lawn. Left untreated, the rings turn into larger circles surrounded by yellowing grass on the outer rim, making it look like your lawn needs a major intervention in order to survive another Texas summer.

Gray leaf spot and Helminthosporium manifest as gray spots on grass blades. The gray spots may be outlined with darker margins, indicating thriving fungal growth. Similarly, downy mildew and rust will look exactly as their names imply. Mildew looks like fuzzy growth on the blades while rust fungus will show up as orange-brown powdery spots. Without treatment, your lawn will soon look patchy and uninviting, an advantage only if you are a cantankerous homeowner who can’t find joy in the sights and sounds of children trespassing on your lawn.

According to Texas A&M’s Horticulture department, the fungus Pythium wilts the grass in the early stages of its growth. Tiny cotton-like splotches appear and then it’s bye-bye green grass if you don’t take action to take back your lawn from these invaders. Another fungus problem is eerily referred to as the take-all patch. It starts out as yellow streaks that turn into dead patches of grass.

Different kinds of mushrooms can show up, as if by magic, after heavy rains. Some mushrooms can be poisonous, so it is important to rid your lawn of these fungal growth before children and pets have time to find them.

Man vs. Fungus

Proper lawn care can prevent the spread of fungus. Basic rules apply: De-thatch and aerate, cut only about a third of grass height with sharp blades, avoid over-watering and inspect the lawn for signs of fungus growth. Act quickly to stem the invasion of fungus on your lawn. Call in the fungus-busters at ABC Home & Commercial Services to assess the problem and talk about practical solutions.

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