After spending almost 20 years in lawn care, you come to realize that there is rarely anything new under the sun. While every season presents its own unique set of challenges, you can always count on weather to impact how quickly nature wakes up, lawns start to look good,weeds begin to germinate and our infamous Oklahoma wind. For a growing number of homeowners with bermudagrass lawns, you can unfortunately count on signs of Spring Dead Spot too.
Spring Dead Spot is a disease that primarily affects bermudagrass lawns, though not all bermudagrass lawns are impacted. Spring Dead Spot, or SDS, is relatively easy to identify due to the mostly circular or arc-shaped patches of dead turf that become visible each spring as the healthy turf starts greening up. In some cases, it almost looks like crop circles.
The severity of the damage is dependent upon a variety of factors which include the type of bermudagrass , it’s cold-tolerance, the severity of winter, and application of late-season fertilizer. Colder temps and prolonged time periods below freezing are more commonly understood forms of damage, but late-season fertilizer applications can also be problematic because too much nitrogen, too late in the season, is shown to increase the severity of damage evident the following spring.
SDS can be challenging to prevent because fungi will begin attacking bermudagrass in the fall, long before the “crop circle” patches beginning showing up in the spring. The lack of visual proof of turf damage in fall, can make it a bit of a challenge to convince homeowners to adjust their watering and fertilizing habits for the season, and even more difficult to visually prove the need for pre-emptive fungicide applications. However, multiple studies have shown that you’ll have the best overall lawn care results by alterning your cultural practices for each season.
This is precisely why we at LawnAmerica time our last fertilization application for the year to hit in August through early September. Our goal is for warm season turf to go into dormancy a little bit lean to help prevent unnecessary damage. We also offer a fungicide program specifically for SDS based on the recommendations of OSU. Using a product called Velista, we time two fungicide applications, spaced 30 days apart starting in mid- to late September. The fungicide applications do not prevent all spots from showing the following spring, but from our experience, it does lessen the number of spots, and gives the damaged areas the ability to recover faster. If you’d like more information or a price quote, please give us a call.
Unfortunately, Spring Dead Spot is not an easy fix. Once turf is infected, it can take as many as 7-10 years to completely cycle out of the lawn. With a combination of improved cultural practices and the addition of appropriately timed fungicide applications, you can, however, manage it and help your lawn perform better each year.
You can learn more about SDS and OSU for treatment and lawn recovery recommendations here.