Identifying Dollar Spot

Are you working diligently to have a beautiful, healthy lawn? But after all your work, are you noticing small, round clusters of straw-colored grass? The culprit might be dollar spot fungus. And this isn’t the type of ‘dollar’ we want in our lawns.

Dollar spot is a turf disease caused by fungus living in your soil. This disease can affect most types of warm-season and cool-season grasses, but it especially favors Bermuda grass.  It typically occurs during periods of high humidity, mostly from late spring to late fall, as the temperatures begin to rise.

It starts as white or beige circular sports 1-2 inches in diameter.  But unfortunately, if not treated properly, dollar spot can take over your lawn causing large patches of dead-looking grass. However, by understanding the causes of dollar spot, there are plenty of methods you can use to help prevent it.

Why does your lawn have dollar spot?

Depending on how you treat your lawn, dollar spot could be caused unintentionally by improper maintenance.

  • Persistently wet grass—Since dollar spot loves humidity, extended periods of wet weather can lead to the disease on susceptible grasses. While you can’t control the weather, you can control your lawn watering habits. Water your lawn deeply and infrequently. Watering in the early morning hours (6:00am – 10:00am) will also prevent the grass from staying moist for too long. If you are experiencing a lengthy period of rain, let mother nature take care of the watering until it gets dry again.
  • Mowing too short—Shorter lawns will hold onto moisture for longer, which makes them more susceptible to contracting dollar spot. In order to prevent this, raise your mower blade to be around 3-4 inches.  As a good rule of thumb, try not to cut more than one-third of your lawn’s leaf blades at a time.
  • Thatch build up—If your lawn is building up with thatch, this can be a trigger for dollar spot. Thatch buildup can prevent the necessary amount of oxygen from getting into the soil.
  • Not enough lawn food—Lawns that are not receiving the proper amount of fertilizer can be prone to diseases like dollar spot. Depending on your grass, make sure your lawn is being treated with the correct fertilizer and required amount.

Treating Dollar Spot

While dollar spot is a fungus, most of the time it does not require a fungicide to treat it. Dollar spot can be maintained by applying adequate nitrogen fertilization. This can be used as a preventative treatment, but also encourages grass affected by dollar spot to quickly recover.  Our Lawn Fertilization and Weed Control Program can effectively provide the nutrients your lawn needs to best combat dollar spot fungus.

Our lawn experts are certified in identifying, preventing and treating dollar spot. Should you notice it becomes an issue, contact us and we will be happy to come take a look.

Photo credit: Turf Files, NC State University


Categories: Grass, Lawn Diseases