Fairy Ring Control



Fairy Rings are caused by a diverse family of fungi called basidiomycetes. This fungal disease might be six inches to two feet wide and can be anywhere from two feet to hundreds of feet in diameter and expanding yearly. Although commonly associated with mythology, the fairy ring is a lush circle of grass that exists from releasing an abundance of nutrients including Nitrogen. The presence of mushrooms usually indicates an organic source of nutrients, such as a buried tree stump, is nearby. They are found mainly in forested areas, but also appear in grasslands or rangelands. If left untreated, can cause dead patches to form in lawns and grasses causing foliage death.
HOST PLANTS: Common in lawns and grasses.

SYMPTOMS: This disease typically appear as dark green circular patterns in the lawn varying in size from a few inches to 200 feet or more in diameter. A circle of mushrooms usually develops around the edge of the infected area. Rings grow outward at the rate of 6 to 24 inches annually depending on grass, soil and weather conditions.

Besides being unsightly, fairy rings can cause serious damage to lawns. Often the disease will produce a thick fungal mat that prevents water from reaching the grass roots below. Once the soil becomes dry it is very difficult to wet and the grass roots eventually die. The fungus may also deplete soil nutrients and, in some cases, will release a toxic by-product that can directly kill the turf within a ring.

FAVORED ENVIRONMENT: Fairy rings occur most often on sandy soils that are low in water and fertility. Thick thatch layers also contribute to this problem.

FAIRY RING CONTROL: Practices that promote healthy lawns help to reduce the occurrence of fairy rings. Remove excess thatch and aerate compacted soils. Keep lawns well watered. Encourage beneficial soil microbes by top dressing with a humus builder such as well aged manure or finished compost. Once the disease appears it is very difficult to eliminate. There is no chemical control for fairy ring. Most homeowners prefer to mask the problem, using fertilizers rich in nitrogen, rather than eradicate it. Mushrooms can be temporarily removed by regular mowing or raking. Fungicides have not proven to be effective. Your mantra should be; Fertilize, water, aerate and mow.

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