Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Fungus Among-us

Do you remember how beautiful our lawn was last year? It was the prettiest one on the block. Green. Thick. Weed-free.

Our lawn, last August.
But by fall we started getting some strange brown spots, that began as circle-shaped patches and grew outward. We thought it might just be going dormant for the winter, though it seemed a bit early. The guy who does our mowing and edging said it might be grubs. So we ran out and bought grub-killer and applied it. Then we did a fall fertilization, and anticipated that Spring would usher in another lush, emerald lawn.

Before anyone's lawn had greened up this spring, we gave ours another feeding, put down some more grub killer, and recently began watering every few days. But the lawn only greened up in a few, sparse areas. The brown remained brown, and continued to spread. At first it was only in the front yard, but now the back yard is also sick.

The same front lawn as above, this spring.

Today we talked to the owner of a local nursery. We brought pictures of our yard for her to see. She asked us what brand of fertilizer we have been using. We told her, and she said, "Oh, don't ever use that brand on St. Augustine grass. It puts too much nitrogen in the soil all at once, and that encourages the growth of a fungus called brownpatch, which kills off the lawn." She prescribed a series of three treatments that we need to do over the next six weeks or so in order to kill the fungus, which is, apparently, still alive and well in our soil. But the grass is dead. The small patches of live grass could, theoretically, put out runners and spread, if we were able to keep them alive, but very slowly. The long-term prognosis is that we'll probably need to re-sod or put new plugs in, after we've killed off the fungus. Then we need to start using a fertilizer that has time-released nitrogen, to try to keep this disease from returning.

Sad :-(


Lois said...

The yearly battle with our lawn has also just begun.

Chesney said...

Oh noooo....I am sure you will have it looking beautiful again!