Hot Humid Weather Leads to Lawn Disease in Washington DC Area

Summer is here early in Washington DC and a Common Lawn Disease Brown Patch is running rampant.  

What is Brown Patch?

Brown Patch is caused by a fungal organism that thrives in hot humid weather. It results in irregularly shaped brown areas of the lawn. Most lawns recover from Brown Patch when the weather cools in the fall.

Why Do You Have Brown Patch?

Brown Patch disease occurs when bad fungi are present, when weather conditions are good for it in optimal weather conditions for the fungi, and when the grass is susceptible.  A little bit of Brown Patch during the summer is normal and nothing to worry about. If you have a severe case, here are some issues that will make Brown Patch in your lawn worse:

Improper Watering Leads to Brown Patch

Brown Patch occurs when the surface of the lawn stays wet and the soil is dry. Watering too often and too lightly will result in lots of brown patches in your lawn.

Solution to Improper Watering: If you’re watering often and shallowly, switch to watering every 3-4 days deeply (one inch of water per session).

Heavy Thatch Is a Friend to Brown Patch

A thick thatch layer is the perfect breeding ground for Brown Patch fungi. In addition to providing a good home for fungi, a heavy thatch layer keeps water up on the surface of the soil and prevents it from reaching the roots…exactly the conditions that cause the dollar spot fungi to thrive.

Solution to Heavy Thatch:  Fertilizing organically with one of NuLeaf Organic Lawn Care’s programs is a good start, but you need to reduce thatch with Core Aeration and Liquid Aeration.  Aeration helps water penetrate into the soil and reduce thatch. Compost Topdressing in the fall will provide good biology that can both decompose thatch and fight off the disease causing fungi. Contact NuLeaf for advice on which services would be best for you.

Poor Grass

Some grasses are very susceptible to brown patch and other diseases.

Solution for Poor Grass: Super Seeding or Renovating in the late summer / Early Fall will toughen grasses and will improve the appearance of your lawn and reduce lawn diseases. A total lawn renovation with Super Seeding and Compost Topdressing is best for helping to eliminate brown patches in lawns.

What Can You Do About Brown Patch Now and In the Future?

To help protect from Brown Patch lawn we recommend:

Don”t water more than every 3-4 days…in the morning or early afternoon

Feed your lawn organically (so you don’t kill off the good soil organisms that fight disease causing fungi)

  • Add resistant grasses
  • Minimize your thatch layer (Liquid Aeration in spring and Core Aeration in the fall with NuLeaf)
  • Topdress with compost in the fall to add beneficial biology