Look out it’s the red menace…
Red Thread is the most common lawn fungal disease in the UK and at some point it is highly likely that your lawn will suffer from it at some degree, even though it might not be enough for you to notice. Red Thread tends to be a bit of a nuisance rather than a fatal lawn disease as it does not kill the roots of the grass plant. With good practice it should be fairly easy to control without the need to rely on the use of fungicides every time there is an outbreak.
Lawns can look very unsightly for several weeks during an outbreak of Red Thread. This disease can be identified during the early stages by a tiny pink fungus which forms on the leaf of the plant which then causes the leaf to turn a bleached colour through the latter stages. Small or large areas of lawn can be affected and it can happen at any time of the year – at times weather patterns might trigger an outbreak.
Some lawns and grass types tend to be more susceptible than others and there are a variety of reasons for this. Lawns grown on inert or soils with low nutrient capacity are often the worst affected and some modern varieties of grass species have less resistance.
The way we manage our lawns can make a difference on how the grass plants resist the red thread fungus. Modern fungicides will stop the fungus from spreading and will protect against attack for a limited period of time but are not a long term solution. It is far better to work with prevention over a long period of time rather than a short term cure.
Here are our top tips on caring for your lawn to help it resist Red Thread:
- Check on the condition of your soil. – Grass struggling to grow on poor soil will have a weak root structure resulting in stressed grass which is more vulnerable to attack. If your soil structure is very poor then consider replacing it.
- Blunt Mower – A blunt or badly adjusted mower will bruise your grass, remove chlorophyll from the leaf and leave it prone to attack.
- Compaction – Regularly aerate your lawn to relieve compaction and to create an environment where natural bacteria in the soil can be beneficial and your lawn is not stressed.
- Thatch control – Some thatch (up to half and inch) will help to prevent red thread, but too much thatch will cause problems and scarifying will be necessary.
- Correct Nutrient – A careful balance of nutrient will keep your lawn healthy and less susceptible to red thread. Too much nutrient will cause the cells in the grass plant to become weak and invite Red Thread and not enough will leave the grass hungry.
- Poor Drainage – Water logged soil will invite disease.
- Harden the grass – Iron treatments during the autumn, winter and spring not only control moss but will harden the grass and make it less susceptible to Red Thread.