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How to Identify and Treat Summer Patch Lawn Disease

Mike Moore
May 9, 2024 10:42:00 AM

The hot weather can be tough on your lawn for many reasons. Drought-like conditions can cause your lawn to struggle and intense heat can even scorch your turf. Along with that, hot-weather fungal infections like summer patch disease can wreak havoc if given the chance to spread.

Extreme heat, limited rainfall, and rising humidity (three common occurrences here) are the perfect recipe for summer patch lawn disease to start growing. This is a wicked disease that can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time.

Understanding what you’re dealing with and how to address it are important as time is of the essence. 

lawn technician spraying 447-1In this article, we’ll talk about what causes summer patch disease and what you should do if you find it.

What is Summer Patch Disease?

Summer patch lawn disease is a lawn fungus characterized by irregular brown patches. It is a destructive disease that kills grass by infecting and destroying its roots.

The disease might first show up as circular areas of wilting grass but will progress to brown or light brown patches. These areas can range from just a couple of inches to as large as three feet in size. This typically occurs as several smaller patches grow together. summer patch
The problem can start small but spread quickly, rotting grass down to the soil level. Because of the fact that it not only kills the grass blades but also the roots, it is a lot more destructive than other common lawn diseases like dollar spot disease or brown patch. 

One of the specific concerns with summer patch lawn disease is that it can be growing “right under your nose” without you noticing. That’s because if your grass is on the long-ish side, the grass might be hiding the dying roots. If you pull up some of the grass and notice its roots are dark brown or black, they could be rotting.

What Causes Summer Patch Disease?

Summer patch disease is caused by the fungus Magnaporthiopsis poae. It tends to thrive best in lawns that receive a lot of sunlight and are compacted with poor drainage, as it loves moist conditions. 

In general, to understand why lawn disease occurs, it helps to understand what is called the “Disease Triangle.”

Lawn disease is the result of three factors: 

  1. A susceptible host: Some grass species are more prone to certain fungi than others. In our region, Bermuda grass and St. Augustine grass appear to be more prone to summer patch than Zoysia grass. In fact, Zoysia seems to be relatively resistant.
  2. A disease-causing organism: In this case, that would be the lawn fungus  Magnaporthiopsis poae.
  3. A favorable environment: This fungus thrives in moist, hot weather. As we mentioned, it also loves compacted soil as it tends to retain moisture.

If all three of these conditions are present at the same time (just like three angles of a triangle), you are likely to have a problem.

How to Treat Summer Patch Lawn Disease

If you suspect that your lawn is dealing with summer patch disease, it’s important to advise your lawn care technician quickly, even if it is in-between visits. Due to the aggressive nature of this disease, you can’t waste any time. 

The best course of treatment is a professional application of fungicide to get rid of Summer Patch lawn disease.

At Grassperson, this would be an add-on service to your existing lawn care program. It’s not included in our regular program as most lawns do not have a significant issue with the disease each year and it would be a wasted expense.lawn care technician 3-2
Going forward, the best course of action is attempting to prevent summer patch lawn disease by strengthening the health of your lawn. While even healthy lawns can be susceptible to disease, they’ll fare better than a lawn that is already struggling.

Help Your Lawn Fight Back Against Disease

With better lawn care habits, you can reduce common lawn stressors and improve your lawn’s root system. The goal should be to reduce soil compaction and improve lawn health with good mowing habits. grassperson-crew-lawn-mowing-3

Aerate to Alleviate Compaction and Reduce Thatch

Lawn aeration is an excellent service to improve compacted soil. Here in North Texas, we have a sandy loam soil type which is prone to compaction. But aeration will help to loosen the soil and improve your lawn’s root system.

Aerating the lawn can also help reduce thatch. This is important as that unwanted layer of thatch can contribute to problems with summer patch lawn disease. This is because the thatch layer can prevent oxygen, water, and nutrients from reaching the lawn’s roots.lawn aerator

Mow Properly

Summer patch lawn disease can be made worse by mowing the lawn too short as this puts a lot of added stress on the lawn. It’s important to 

The height at which you mow grass will depend on the turf variety. Just as examples, Bermudagrass should be mowed to 1 to 2 inches; St. Augustine grass, 2.5 to 3.5 inches; and Zoysia grass, 1.5 to 3 inches. When mowing, avoid taking off more than 1/3 of the grass blade in a single pass. If you’ve let the lawn go too long between mowings, this could mean you have to mow the lawn twice to achieve the optimum height.grassperson-crew-lawn-maintenance-mowing

Water Properly

Finally, it’s also critical that we mention the importance of proper watering. Fungus like Magnaporthiopsis poae love moisture so it’s important that you avoid overwatering. Watering at the proper times is also important. When you water late in the day or at night, it can leave excess water on the lawn that won’t get evaporated. This can create the optimal conditions for fungal growth.

how to maintain your irrigation system

Healthier Lawns Can Fight Back

The bottom line? The better shape that your lawn is in (health-wise), the better able it will be to stand up to any threats it is faced with. While you might not be able to prevent lawn disease entirely, a healthy lawn will fare better in the face of disease than one that is already plagued with problems. 

perfect timing for lawn care tasks
This is not only true for summer patch lawn disease but many other lawn diseases and even other lawn problems (including lawn pests).

Choosing Lawn Care Services near Flower Mound, TX

At the end of the day, summer patch lawn disease is just one of many potential problems that your lawn could face in North Texas. That’s why it’s so valuable to invest in professional lawn care and have a pro on your side, looking out for your lawn.

Lawn diseases can feel like a setback when it comes to achieving the amazing results that you’re after. But it does not have to completely derail your investment in a great-looking lawn. With early detection and treatment, you can get your lawn back on track.

This is where working with a professional is so valuable. There won’t be lots of downtime as there would if you had to find a company and get them out to your property to treat the problem.

When you’re a Grassperson client, you can count on us to keep a close eye on your lawn—and to make recommendations whenever they’re needed. We’re always looking out for you.

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Image Source: Summer Patch

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