Root rot can be devastating, especially if not treated early. The disease can spread quickly and damage your entire lawn if the conditions are favorable.
Thankfully, you can nip the problem in the bud – in this case, in the root – before it kills your beautiful lawn.
This article will show you exactly how to get rid of root rot from your lawn. We’ll also cover how to correctly identify the problem and preventive methods to stop a reoccurrence.
Let’s get started.
Identifying Root Rot in Lawn
Identifying root rot in your lawn can be a bit tricky. That’s because the disease shares a few different signs as other lawn problems.
In many cases, homeowners find out that they are dealing with root rot only when the damage has spread a bit too far.
Fungal diseases that cause root rot can affect lawns in a few different ways. Use the following tips to identify common fungal diseases.
Take-All Root Rot Disease
The fungus tends to affect centipede grass, zoysia grass, St. Augustine grass, and Bermuda grass.
Grasses tend to have yellow blades and the leaves may curl. In advanced stages, the leaves will thin out.
Overly wet conditions combined with poor drainage encourage disease development.
Snow Mold Lawn Disease
This typically affects Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and bentgrass.
The grass blades turn tan or reddish-brown and become water-soaked. Grasses tend to have pinkish or white fungal threads under the morning sun.
Lawns with poor drainage and grass with too much shade are vulnerable to snow mold. Also, excessive nitrogen especially in the fall season can result in the disease.
Summer Patch Lawn Disease
Fine fescue and Kentucky bluegrass are usually the main victims of summer patch disease. It can also affect bentgrass and perennial ryegrass.
Typically, healthy-looking grasses are surrounded by circles of dead tan-colored grass. And brownish fungal threads tend to cover the stolons, rhizomes, and crowns of the affected grasses.
Summer patch disease usually develops when temperatures are extremely high in late spring through summer. Mowing too low, compacted soil, and excessive soil moisture can give the disease the upper hand.
Pythium Lawn Disease
Fine fescue, bluegrass, bentgrass, and perennial ryegrass are impacted by this disease.
Typically, the leaves will look oily and wet. Grasses also tend to die quicker than usual.
Consistently wet conditions, hot and excessive humidity from summer to fall encourage pythium disease.
Too much watering and overfertilizing can increase the spread of the disease.
Rust Lawn Disease
Commonly affected grasses include tall fescue, fine fescue, zoysia, perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, and bentgrass.
It is one of the most common lawn fungus diseases that appear during midsummer through late fall.
It can also appear when your turf is going through stress.
General Signs of Lawn Root Rot
While root rot can take several forms, you don’t need to be an expert to identify it. And you definitely don’t need a green thumb to know how to get rid of root rot.
There’s no need to worry if the above diseases seem too technical for you. At GreenIQ, we believe in keeping things simple so you can quickly spot the problem before it kills your entire lawn.
Here are some general signs to help you know when you’re probably dealing with root rot.
Yellow grass blades: One of the common signs of root rot in lawns is yellow grass blades. The grass will look as though they are suffering from some mineral deficiency. Keep in mind that yellow grass can mean many different things. To be sure you’re dealing with root rot, grab some of the suspected grass blades and pull. They should remain attached.
Dark and rotting roots: Another common sign of root rot is dark, weak roots instead of whitish and firm roots. When you dig down to the root of affected grasses, you will see that the roots are dark brown or black, and may even have an odd smell. In more serious cases, a hair-like structure will form near the top of the stem.
Bald patches : When you begin to notice bald patches of dirt showing up where grasses die, you might have a root rot problem on your lawn.
Root Rot Look-Alike Lawn Problems
We’re eager to show you how to get rid of root rot from your lawn. But before then, it is important to be aware that some lawn problems are similar to root rot but actually aren’t.
To avoid killing a fly with an elephant gun, it is crucial to know how to tell root rot apart from its look-alikes.
Large Patch Disease
Like root rot, large patch disease is caused by a fungus. It is a common lawn problem that affects warm-season grass in the spring and fall.
One of the easiest ways to identify large patch disease is by pulling the grass blades. The blades will easily slip from the stolon.
Chinch Bug Problem
Chinch bugs are small pests that move fast in grasses, so it might be difficult to spot them on your turf.
They affect lawns in a similar way to take-all root rot.
Here’s how to confirm if you’re dealing with a chinch bug problem in your lawn:
Add 2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid in 1 gallon of water.
Pour the mixture into a watering can and spray over the affected area. 1 gallon of the mixture is ideal for one square yard of turf.
The chinch bugs will scurry about within a few minutes (if they are present).
How To Get Rid Of Root Rot
Taking proper care of your lawn is an all-important step if you want to control root rot. However, if the disease is already present, here is how to get rid of it.
First, choose a premium fungicide product that’s formulated to control root rot in lawns.
Mix the product with about 4 or 5 gallons of water for 1,000 square feet of lawn area.
Next, rake the affected area and remove all the dead grasses before applying the mixture. This will allow the fungicide to easily reach the soil.
Apply the fungicide mixture to affected areas.
Thoroughly water the affected areas to about 1/2 inch water. Make sure to do this immediately after applying the mixture. This will move the fungicide from the leaves to the stolon and root.
For best results, make sure to carefully read, understand, and follow the instructions on the product labels. Also, be sure to implement any precautions.
Be extra careful when using fungicides during hot weather.
That’s because applying most fungicides at high rates in such periods can stress and damage grasses.
This is especially the case with St. Augustine grass and Bermuda grass. You want to protect your turfgrass, not cause additional issues.
How to Prevent Future Occurrences of Rot Root
What’s better than getting rid of root rot? Preventing them, of course!
Once you’re sure the lawn problem is root rot, you can stop future reoccurrence using the following tips.
Water your lawn as needed: Water your lawn deeply instead of too frequently. Remember that your lawn needs irrigation in some seasons but not at all times. Also, try to reduce the amount of time your turfgrass remains wet. To make sure of this, it is helpful to water early in the day so the grass can dry quickly as the sun comes up.
Use fertilizers properly: Overfertilizing weakens grass and under-fertilizing makes them malnourished. Avoid both mistakes and make sure to follow the instructions on fertilizer products for the correct amounts.
Aerate the soil regularly: Reduce soil compaction by aerating regularly. This will encourage water and air circulation and prevent fungus development.
Mow your lawn correctly: Consider your grass height when you mow. You don’t want to merely follow a calendar. Also, mow at the ideal height for your specific lawn grass. Not sure when to mow your lawn? Read our guide on What Is The Best Time to Mow Lawn.
Use pesticides in advanced cases: With proper lawn care, your turf might recover quickly. This is especially true if you already have a generally healthy lawn, in the first place. But in extreme cases, it might be necessary to use pesticides to treat root rot.
The best approach to tackling root rot in your lawn is to prevent it from showing up, to begin with.
This usually means identifying the conditions that encourage the disease pathogens and preventing such conditions.
Make sure you don’t overwater or overfertilize your lawn. Also, it is important to have a good drainage system in place.
While we’re still on the subject, you might want to check out our guide on Sprinkler System Setup if you want to learn the proper way to water your lawn while limiting the risks of poor drainage.
Rebecca Vargas is an experienced gardener and landscaper and has been rendering professional services for many years. Her services cover both private homes and commercial properties. Leveraging that rich experience, Rebecca Vargas now dedicates a chunk of time to show just about anyone how to maintain their garden and yard, whether at home or workplace. GreenIQ is his way of reaching and teaching millions of homeowners across the globe about proper gardening and lawn care practices.