The most common disease affecting grass is fusarium patch disease which cancause tremendous damage if not tackled immediately with a suitable fungicide, a treatment that may have to be repeated more than once. Serious trouble with disease is usually only encountered when maintenance is not of the best e. g.: too much of the wrong fertiliser at the wrong time. Where fungicidal treatment of disease is considered necessary it is important to remember infection is occurring on the roots of the grass so that penetration of the fungicide into the root zone is essential.
The best weed treatment is prevention and this can be achieved by maintaining your lawn in good condition. Grass is a very competitive plant and if it’s in a healthy state, weeds will find it hard to get established in a dense sward. However, weeds are also competitive and opportunistic and therefore able to establish very rapidly if damage or stress presents the chance. There are almost as many products for treating weeds as there are weed species, basically, it is a matter of identifying the weeds and obtaining the appropriate product. As with fertiliser application, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.
The Leatherjacket grub is the larvae of daddy long legs or crane fly which are commonly seen flying around in summer and autumn, often attracted to electric lights. In late summer the female fly lays up to 300 eggs in grassy areas which hatch into leather jackets. They stay underground over winter and cause most damage to the turf in the spring when the larvae feed on the grass roots. Prevention from damage is the best procedure. If you see signs of crane fly in late summer apply Bayer’s ‘lawn grub killer’ which is retained in the soil killing the grubs as they hatch.
“What are they?”
Toadstools are the fruiting bodies of the class of fungi known as basidiomycetes. There are over 13,000 species of this class of fungus. The vegetative part of the fungus lives below ground, feeding on dead plant
material and speeding the process of its decay. This breaking down of dead material occurs throughout nature and allows the release of nutrients to feed living organisms. When the ideal environmental conditions occur the fungus reproduces by producing spores in the toadstools.These are of course above the surface of the ground and allow wind dispersal of the spores.
“I didn’t have toadstools in my old lawn so where did they come from?”
When the soil is being prepared ready for the new turf to be laid buried organic debris is disturbed and bought up to the surface. The spores are triggered when the conditions are ideal i.e. mild and wet causing a flush of toadstools. Eventually, when the supply of nutrient in the soil is used up and the fungus dies out, no more toadstools are produced. Invariably they do not recur in the year following laying.
“Do they damage the turf?”
No. The fungus is not a ‘disease’ and is quite distinct from those fungi, which cause ‘fairy rings’ in the turf. In fact by breaking down dead material they are beneficial.
“Are they poisonous to children and pets?”
The small brown toadstools which occur most frequently in new turf are not poisonous. However, we would not recommend eating any wild toadstool or mushroom unless a positive identification has been made by a qualified person.
“Can they be controlled?”
Since they are composed mainly of water toadstools soon shrivel up and disappear when brushed with a stiff brush/besom broom or removed with the lawn mowing.
In our experience the flus of small brown toadstools which occur in summer following laying of the turf is not repeated in succeeding years, although occasional toadstools will be produced from time to time – as in any lawn.
Flowering Seed Heads
“My new lawn has flowering seed heads,is this normal?”
Grass produces seed heads naturally although they are more prevalent in the late spring/summer especially it the weather turns hot and dry (drought conditions). When turf is harvested the majority of the root system is cut off. This is stressful to the grass plants and they produce seed heads as a means of self preservation. The seed heading will reduce once the new turf has established a new root system, which can take 6-8 weeks. Seed heading will also reduce if the new lawn receives adequate nutrients and is mowed regularly with a sharp blade.
“My lawn has tough stalks that stand up even after mowing the lawn?”
These are ryegrass stalks, usually occurring late summer/autumn when the perennial ryegrass plant is seeding. The stalks are generally robust enough to survive cutting with a cylinder mower and sometimes follow-up treatment with a rotary mower can remove the offending stalks. If regular mowing at between 12 and 25mm is implemented and good nutrient levels are maintained the problem can be managed.
Lumps Of Mud In Lawn
“Sticky lumps of mud have appeared in my lawn, where did these come from?”
The lumps of mud are likely to be worm casts. These are usually more common from September to October and March to early May. They are a nuisance because when they become flattened or smeared by the lawnmower or foot traffic they create the perfect seed bed for unwanted weeds. Allolobophora species of earthworms are responsible; they feed on decaying vegetation in the soil and deposit there muddy excrement on the surface. There is no pesticide available to eradicate these lawn pests; the only solution is to brush the casts off prior to mowing with a besom broom. On the positive side worms help aerate the soil and they introduce organic matter into the soil by pulling dead leaves into their tunnels.