Red Thread: Common Lawn Diseases
One of the best things about Summer is being able to see all that hard work you’ve put into your lawn pay off. That gorgeous green expanse is your pride and joy throughout the spring and summer months. But sometimes, no matter how hard you try, lawn diseases can sneak in and make your beautiful yard their home. Once they take hold, diseases like Red Thread, Powdery Mildew, or Rust Fungus can continually make an appearance year after year if they aren’t dealt with. Though you may be ready to throw in the towel and give up on a healthy lawn after seeing a disease like Red Thread take hold, there are still options for you!
Find the Cause
In order to fully eradicate a disease like Red Thread, it is essential that you understand what elements allowed it to grow in the first place. This disease generally appears in late Spring to early Summer. It loves the humidity and often makes its home in areas that have low amounts of Nitrogen. One of the most commonly recommended times to fertilize is in the Fall, before Winter forces lawn growth to subside. Unfortunately, most of the nutrients added to the soil have been used up by the end of Spring due to the high growth that takes place. The aggressive growth that takes place in early Spring means that most of the Nitrogen has now been used up. This creates the perfect environment for Red Thread to take hold.
Identifying Red Thread
The similarities between lawn diseases like Red Thread, Snow Mold, Pink Patch, and Dollar Spot make identifying these diseases relatively tricky. All these diseases commonly show up as pink clusters that resemble cotton candy. These pink clusters are common in many fungal diseases and make it hard to determine the correct necessary treatment. However, Red Thread gets its name from the reddish fibers that bind or extend from the blades of grass. The branch structure of these fibers are the telltale sign you are dealing with Red Thread.
Red Thread affects primarily the soil and thatch layers. This means that the crown and roots of the grass plants are not affected and can survive the disease. As a mainly cosmetic disease, it is not recommended to treat it with fungicides. The best way to treat Red Thread is by applying fertilizer twice a year; once in the Fall and again in Spring. This will replenish the essential nutrients that have run out over the Winter and Spring months. It will provide the necessary amounts of Nitrogen to help fend off this disease. However, it may take up to two years to fully remove from your lawn.
Five More Steps to Take to Remove Red Thread
- Maintain a balanced fertility schedule; do not over- or under-fertilize. Complete soil tests regularly to feed your soil the exact nutrients it is lacking.
- Clean your mower, shoes, and other lawn maintenance equipment after each use. Red Thread can spread by transferring onto these objects.
- Allow grass to dry before nightfall as much as possible. Watering your grass in the late afternoon or evening means the grass will remain damp overnight. This excess moisture encourages fungal growth.
- Remove excess thatch. Since Red Thread lives mainly in the thatch layers and soil, removing some of the thatch layer will help prevent this disease from spreading.
- Where the disease is active, be sure to pick up and dispose of grass clippings after mowing as they add to the thatch layer and raise moisture levels to encourage disease growth.
While it can seem like an exhausting process to remove Red Thread fully from your lawn, it is absolutely essential. The fungus weakens the grass and can turn it brown and the thin red fibers and fuzzy pink clusters detract from the appearance of your lawn. Eradicating this disease will help give you the lawn you’ve always wanted!