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Spring Dead Spot-Is My Lawn Dying?

Image courtesy http://www.apsnet.org/publications/apsnetfeatures/Pages/Bermudagrass.aspx

Spring dead spot can be alarming when it shows up in your lawn.  Spring dead spot is a problem, but no, its presence does not indicate that your lawn is dying.  Spring dead spot starts to show up as your lawn greens up.  Just as in the photo above, you notice circular patterns that are staying dormant.  Often, these patches of dormant grass are so well defined, it may appear that someone sprayed something to cause these circles to appear.  Spring dead spot is most common in bermudagrass lawns and putting greens.  However, all warm season grasses are susceptible to this disease.  It is so aggressive in centipede and St. Augustine grasses that it is often referred to as “take-all” when it shows up in these two grasses.

As turfgrass greens up in the spring, these well-defined areas of brown, “thatchy” looking turf appear.  As the spring progresses and the unaffected grass around these spots continues to green, the affected area appears even worse.  Sometimes, the brown circles will have green grass blades start appearing in the middle of the spots.  This is a good sign that your grass is fighting to recover.  Much research has been conducted to learn more about what causes this disease to show up.  It is most likely to appear in the spring following a harsh winter, and often is more prevalent on slopes.  The fungus that causes spring dead spot actually attacks the grass during the fall, and you have no indication that anything is wrong at that time.  When spring arrives, however, the damage has been done.

The best solution with spring dead spot in home lawns is patience.  Bermudagrass grows aggressively, so the circular patches in the spring start to fill in as the weather warms.  Maintaining a lower cutting height through the spring and mowing on a regular basis will help these spots fill in more quickly.  Application of fungicide to these localized spots is not advised, and neither is attempting to add extra fertilizer to these localized spots.  Patience and normal maintenance is the best course of action.  In some lawns, these spots will appear the following spring, but in other lawns they will not show up every spring.  This likely has a lot to do with weather conditions and maintenance practices that you follow in your lawn.

If spring dead spot is a recurring issue in your lawn, there are chemical treatment options available.  We do not recommend treatment for this particular disease until you have seen it in successive growing seasons.  The fungicides available to treat this disease are very expensive and you are not guaranteed success with treating spring dead spot.  Also, the fungicides must be applied in successive applications in the fall rather than in the spring once the spots have already appeared.

Spring dead spot is a disease that can be frustrating for you and your lawn professional alike.  It can appear even when you are properly maintaining your lawn.  However, the effects of this disease do go away as the growing season progresses.  As mentioned above, it can be present in your lawn year after year, but thankfully not to the point that you need to go to the expense of treating it.

If you have strange, brown spots in your lawn that you would like to have assessed, please contact us.

 

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