If you do a quick search for the features buyers want to see most in a home, and time and time again, you’ll come across curb appeal, and the key to excellent curb appeal is an immaculate lawn. In addition, many HOAs have guidelines regarding lawn condition, and it literally pays to keep your front and backyards looking tidy.
Brown spots on the lawn are the bane of any homeowner looking to create a beautifully landscaped section. They tend to appear more in winter, when temperatures drop (even just slightly) and the moisture levels rise. One sign of an approaching winter in South Florida is that it becomes easier to manage pests like mosquitos.
If you’re struggling with lawn care in winter gardens, read on for our guide to recognizing and getting rid of brown spots.
What Causes Brown Spots on Your Lawn?
Outside of your lawn being under or over-watered, in most cases, patches of brown on your winter lawn are the result of a disease. And the most likely culprit is some kind of fungus.
If you notice the blades of grass in your lawn slowly turning from lush green to a yellow-brown, orange, or gold color, you might have a developing case of rust fungus. At first, you’ll see tiny flecks of color, but later, these grow larger, darken, and spread across your lawn. Infected leaves droop, and your lawn becomes sparse.
This fungus spreads by releasing its microscopic spores into the air. To the human eye, they simply look like a rusty-colored powder.
Rust fungus loves damp, dark conditions, spreading more rapidly in the spring to fall. But it can occur during the winter months in some parts of Florida.
Brown Patch Disease
This is one of the most common winter lawn diseases in Florida. Brown patch disease is most prevalent between November and May because it prefers temperatures below 80 degrees.
Though this aggressive fungus starts as a tiny patch in one part of your lawn, it spreads quickly. You will see the grass blades turn yellow, then red or brown. Finally, once they’re dead, they’ll resemble the color of straw.
This lawn disease is called “brown patch” because it tends to colonize your lawn in distinctive spots. These tan-colored spots stand out because they’re surrounded by your healthy lawn. Look, too, for tiny brown-centered yellow spots on individual leaves.
Dollar spot is so-called because it starts as silver-dollar-sized patches on your lawn. Because the spots are so small, many homeowners ignore the signs. This is a mistake.
Like most fungal infections, dollar spot can quickly get out of control. And unfortunately, it affects not just the leaves. It will destroy the roots of your grass, too.
Look for three things to identify dollar spot:
- Dollar-sized patches
- Tan leaf lesions with a red-brown border
- Mycelium “webs” on a dewy morning
Dollar spot thrives in temperatures above the 60s and 70s and humid conditions.
Mushroom rings, more commonly known as fairy rings, sound quaint–and they are if you spot one while hiking in the forest. However, you don’t want fairy rings colonizing your lawn. This is because they’ll create brown spots on our lawn that can reach up to 20-feet in diameter.
These patches may or may not have mushrooms and usually appear after a rainy day or storm. The rings, or more accurately, their mycelium network, gobble up all of the nitrogen the grass feeds on and also consume much-needed water.
Tips for Treating Brown Lawn Spots
Don’t worry! While seeing brown spots on your lawn is undoubtedly an issue that needs to be addressed quickly, there are a lot of solutions you can try.
In some cases, you may need to adjust your lawn care techniques, while a fungicide might be necessary in other cases.
Choose Your Types of Grass
Zenith Zoysia grass is shade-tolerant, pest and disease resistant, and grows well even if you plant it in the middle of a Florida winter.
While Tall Fescue has a longer recovery period than other grasses, it takes a virulent disease to knock it down in the first place. With a deep root system, it also loves Florida’s winter weather as much as the hot summer months.
Bahiagrass naturally turns tan-colored in the Florida winter, so it’s less affected by fungal disease. It also has a robust root system.
One of the best ways to treat lawn diseases is to stop them before they get a hold. And the key to this is not to overwater your lawn, especially in the cooler winter months.
Aside from a fungal infection, other signs of an overwatered lawn include:
- Squishy-feeling lawn
- Dying patches of grass
- Overabundance of weeds
- Runoff after watering
If you have an automatic sprinkler system, play around with the settings to determine how often you need to turn them on. And take some time to review Florida-specific garden calendars to work out local plant water needs.
Treat With Fungicide
If your brown spots have really got out of control, you might decide to treat them with fungicide.
Depending on the type of fungal infection you’re battling, you’ll need to decide between the following types of fungicide:
- Preventative or curative
- Systemic or contact
- Narrow or broad-spectrum
Consider, too, how the active ingredients in a particular fungicide work to damage the fungus in your lawn. If you’re unsure, check with the staff at your local garden center or work with a lawn care professional.
Know When to Call the Professionals
As you can see, it can be challenging to identify and treat the cause of brown lawn spots in Florida’s temperate winters. If you’ve tried the tips and tricks outlined in this article and aren’t seeing results, it’s time to get in the professionals. They’ll be able to quickly diagnose and treat your brown spot issue and may even help prevent it from coming back in the future.
If you’re struggling with lawn or garden pests, including issues related to brown spots on your lawn, contact One Two Tree today. Our experts have been serving homeowners in Miami-Dade and Broward County, FL, for over three decades.