What Can Be Done to Prevent Turfgrass Diseases?

We have received several turf samples in the clinic this season with a variety of problems, including plant diseases in lawns with grass species that have moderate to low tolerance to heat and/or drought and therefore, had suffered through the hot and dry spell.
Turf diseases are tied to the type of grass planted (bluegrass, fescue, etc.), the plant health, soil nutrient status, soil drainage, watering practices and stressors such temperature, compaction, and drought.
If drainage is problematic on your lawn, take the necessary steps to improved drainage to promote water percolation while helping minimize leaf wetness.
If you decide to water your lawn, early morning application is preferred as opposed to evening irrigation.  Avoid light applications of water; instead water deeply but infrequently.  Uniformity of coverage is important to avoid neglecting areas.
Conduct a soil test to learn what the level of nitrogen is in your soil so you can determine if supplementation is needed and to avoid over application. Proper nitrogen supplementation can help the grass to stay healthy and fend off disease that excessive N can exacerbate.
If problems arise, the clinic can assist you in investigating what the problem may be, but keep in mind the type of sample we need. When collecting a turfgrass sample collect samples before applying any disease-controlling chemicals, collect turf grass from the edge of the affected area. The sample should include both healthy and infected plants. Completely dead grass is of no use since secondary organisms quickly colonize it. Take a sample of at least 6" diameter (a cup cutter works well). Include the underlying soil and root system. Wrap the sample in newspaper or paper towels. Please do not place it in a plastic bag and do not add water. Excess moisture can cause rapid deterioration of the sample and proliferation of secondary organisms. Provide background information, such as when the symptom first appeared, turfgrass variety, and pattern and distribution of the problem. Along with the sample, digital pictures of symptoms can be very helpful. Please see the Clinic website for guidelines to taking and sending pictures.   
Pack and wrapped the sample tightly in a box to prevent dislodging the soil. Ship the package early in the week via overnight delivery when possible.
Additional resources to take care of your lawn can be found at the ISU Extension & Outreach Store.

Turf samples properly wrapped in newspaper
Examples of properly collected and packaged turfgrass samples. Photo credit: Lina Rodriguez Salamanca, Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic

Links to this article are strongly encouraged, and this article may be republished without further permission if published as written and if credit is given to the author, Yard and Garden, and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. If this article is to be used in any other manner, permission from the author is required. This article was originally published on July 29, 2016. The information contained within may not be the most current and accurate depending on when it is accessed.