Warning for This Coming Fall Season: Fertilizing Lawns in the Fall Can Cause Deadly Fungus To Grow in Grass

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Natural Way Lawn Care of Lake Orion, Michigan, warns that fertilizing lawns this fall can cause deadly fungus to grow.

Natural Way Lawn Care of Lake Orion, Michigan, warns that fertilizing lawns this coming fall season can cause deadly fungus to grow.

The deadly fungus is called called "Brown Patch," or Rhizoctonia solani. It creates giant, doughnut-shaped patches of brown grass in any lawn; one of the most destructive lawn diseases lawns have ever seen.

Bad news: It is impossible to stop Rhizoctonia solani from growing. Most average lawns contain unnoticeable patches of the fungus, growing in small amounts.

Good news: Although Rhizoctonia solani may be growing in most lawns, it only develops into the destructive brown patch disease under very specific conditions.

More bad news: The average homeowner's lawn care methods (especially in the fall) create perfect conditions for the brown patch to develop and destroy a lawn. Read the following list to avoid creating a "brown patch breeding ground" this fall.

1. The main mistake that homeowners make in the fall is overfertilizing at the end of the growing season. Most fertilizers make the grass leaves soft and lush right before winter snow comes. Then, the lush, soft grass leaves remain damp, creating a prime condition for brown patch to attack. In general, applications of more than 4 lb of nitrogen fertilizer per 1000 square feet per year will make grass vulnerable to increased brown patch activity. If a lawn requires fertilization in the fall, use "slow release" fertilizer that releases nitrogen slowly, helping to avoid Brown Patch.

2. Do not overwater lawns, especially in the fall. Grass should not be constantly wet.

3. While raking leaves this fall, also prune surrounding trees and shrubs to reduce shade and allow more air and sun to reach the lawn. This will reduce the length of time that grass sits damp and warm.

4. If brown patch has already begun to take over a lawn, brown patch fungicides may be necessary to salvage it and keep it from being completely destroyed. We recommend that a lawn care professional apply the fungicide. In the Detroit Metro Area or Southeastern Michigan, Natural Way Lawn Care can come out and apply it safely.

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Keith Fetzner
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