technicians inspecting lawn close up

5 Common Spring Lawn Diseases in Northeast OH

Dave Petti

Sure, weeds are easy to spot in your lawn. They stick out with their nasty, spiky, mismatched shapes that look different from your nice, even, thick lawn. 

But spring lawn diseases are another story altogether. 

The right conditions can bring them about without warning. And most of the diseases out there resemble patchy or irregularly shaped spots in your lawn. For all you know, those marks could be from drought or where your dog likes to mark its territory. 

Lawn diseases may be tough to recognize, but there are a few common ones that pop up in Northeast Ohio. Let’s review them to help you sharpen your identification skills, as well as suggest ways you can keep these eye sores to a minimum in your yard. 

How to Identify a Grass Disease

You want a thick, green lawn – one that smells like outdoor freshness and summertime. 

Spring lawn diseases tend to show up in your lawn in a very aesthetically unpleasing way. They ruin this perfect lawn picture with spots and patches. 

Some common lawn diseases in Northeast Ohio attack when certain conditions collide to make these diseases present themselves. But there are things you can do, based on the specific disease type, that can protect your lawn and help it return to its blemish-free self. 

technician bare spots lawn looking close

Here are common Northeast Ohio lawn diseases you need to watch out for, a look at what causes them, and how to fight them. 

1. Red Thread

Cool, moist weather drives red thread on a lawn that lacks proper fertilization and nutrients. Temperatures between 59 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit combined with excess rain usually bring this disease on.

It’s actually caused by a fungus and shows up in the lawn in two stages. First is the stage that gives this spring lawn disease its name: thin, red, needle-like strands extending from grass blades. The fungus grows from these strands. This is also how the disease is spread via wind or even through contaminated equipment. Second comes the visible, pink, cotton-like spots that start as yellow or lighter green patches. 

To manage this disease, start by managing the conditions that cause it. Since red thread likes grass with poor nutrition, a balanced fertilization program will boost lawn health and reduce disease severity. This can usually do the trick to eliminate red thread. 

Red Thread Lawn Disease 3

2. Rust 

Rust, similar to red thread, is a largely cosmetic spring lawn disease. 

It starts with yellow, orange spores or fruiting bodies that damage grass blades. In fact, if your lawn has rust and you walk through it, you might notice bits of these yellow-orange spores come off on your shoes. You can see them on the grass blades if you look closely, too. This is how the disease spreads.

Rust prefers moderate temperatures – from 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit – as well as long evenings (more than 10 hours) of dew or moisture. 

A healthy lawn is your best defense against rust, particularly a balanced fertilization program.

3. Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew attacks lawns through their grass blades. Like some other diseases, it’s also caused by a fungus with a weird name – blumeria graminis.

The first symptoms of this spring lawn disease are light spots in the lawn. As the disease progresses, you may notice white patches that look like they’ve been sprinkled with baby powder.

The disease can be present in your lawn but not cause symptoms until the conditions are right. Powdery mildew likes shady locations with poor air circulation. If you water your lawn at night without giving it a chance to dry properly, you’re encouraging this disease to spread. 

Opening air flow and reducing shade by pruning nearby trees can help, but this isn’t always possible based on your location. 

To prevent this disease, water the lawn early in the day so it has time to dry out. Also, water shaded areas infrequently but deeply. 

4. Dollar Spot

Dollar spot appears as small straw-colored circles on Kentucky bluegrass more than tall fescue. Spots start out the size of silver dollars, hence the name dollar spot. Think 2- to 6-inch spots. They can be a very unsightly spring lawn disease, especially as it multiplies.

Dollar spot usually comes along in late spring and can last through fall, causing the most damage in June and July. It loves under-fertilized turf, as well as grass impacted by drought and compaction. 

If you take care of your lawn with adequate fertilization and annual aeration and overseeding treatments, you can keep dollar spot from taking over your lawn.

Dollar spot diseasee on lawn

5. Brown Patch

Along with humidity and summer temperatures comes a spring lawn disease called brown patch. 

Just like its name implies, brown patch appears in circular patches that are brownish-yellow in color. This disease likes heat and humidity, particularly when nighttime temperatures remain consistently above 68 degrees Fahrenheit and daytime temperatures are at 85 degrees Fahrenheit or above. 

To battle this lawn enemy, remember to properly fertilize your lawn. Once rainfall resumes after dry summers, this disease usually begins to disappear as well. Overseeding your lawn in the fall can help thicken up any bare areas, helping to further protect it from problems down the road.

Brown spot on lawn

Get Rid of Spring Lawn Diseases in Your Northeast Ohio Lawn

You might be asking yourself, “How do I know what is wrong with my lawn?” And the answer could be a spring lawn disease. 

Now that you know more about some of the most common lawn diseases in Northeast Ohio, you might be able to identify any strange spots you’re seeing, as well as make a list of what you need to do to better manage them. 

In addition to boosting overall lawn health with fertilization, aeration, proper watering, and mowing, you might still find you have some spots that are more disease-prone than others. This is totally normal. In fact, if you have places that tend to deliver the right disease conditions frequently, your disease pressure will be higher. For instance, places that have shade most of the morning and day and only a little sun in the evening don’t get a chance to dry out or cool, so they go into the evening with more humidity than other locations. This is a recipe for diseases to spread. 

If you notice patches even after improving your lawn, you might consider calling Turf Pride. We can tell you what’s really going on in your lawn and offer some suggestions to get that green, thick grass back. 

technician placing flag on green lawn

Are lawn diseases keeping you from having a yard you can be proud of? We’d love to learn more. Get started today with a free quote. Together, we’ll prepare a customized plan for your Northeast Ohio lawn that leads you to the best choice for you and your lawn. 

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