Help & Advice
Toadstools/Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies produced by fungi that can be found in the lawn; most are generally harmless and occasionally can be beneficial to the eco system. Although the fruiting bodies are clearly visible it will take an expert to distinguish whether they are edible, so it is not advisable to eat them. Toadstools in the lawn are not always a cause for concern, however when you get mushrooms in a circle then this could be evidence of a fairy ring, this is discussed on a separate leaflet.
What to do?Before cutting the lawn try and remove these from the lawn using either a rake or if the lawn is short enough a still brush will help, if you cut the lawn with them on you increase the risk of spreading the spores and increasing the numbers that may already be there. We generally find good maintenance of the lawn with aeration and scarification reduces the numbers the following year, we also see high incidence of these when we are seeing extremes of weather, for example when it goes from dry and cold to warm and wet, the humidity will stimulate their activity. It is also a sign that the microbial activity within the soil is high, this is good as it helps to ensure that when we are feeding the lawns the microbes are helping to share the food around the grass plant.
FungicideIf you have heard that it is wise to apply a fungicide please ignore this practice, fungicides will have an impact on the fruiting bodies that are there for a short time; they will have no impact on the ones beneath the soil which can pop up over night.
Water is vital if a lawn is to remain lush and green, otherwise it will start suffering from drought stress and develop yellow or brown patches. Therefore, always water your lawn through dry periods.
How often should I water my lawn?Regular watering on a daily or every other day basis will keep the grass plant healthy; it is best to do this early in the morning or in the evening to avoid evaporation.
During dry weather:• Keep off the lawn as much as possible, as the grass will be brittle and likely to break • Don’t cut the grass shorter than 50mm (2”) and do not cut again until there is a sign of growth Tip: If the water is not soaking through, your lawn may be hydrophobic and suffering from Dry Patch. This means that it will need the help of a wetting agent to allow the ground to absorb water – see over for details.
LAWN DISEASELawn disease comes in many forms; it is generally caused by fungus which attacks the grass and deprives it of vital nutrients. Red Thread is the most common disease, as well as Fusarium, Leaf Spot, Snow Mould and Rust, to name but a few. They can all affect the sward, causing discolouration, weakening of the plant and ultimately killing it altogether.
What causes lawn disease?Disease is caused by the grass plant becoming stressed and therefore more vulnerable. Stress can be caused by many reasons such as: drought, moss, compaction or incorrect mowing.
Mowing is the most basic practise in maintaining your lawn. Correct mowing can make a huge difference to its health and how good it looks.
Mowing tips:• Always sharpen or replace your lawn mower’s blade regularly, so it doesn’t tear the grass blade • Clean and remove grass from the underside of the mower after use • Remove grass clippings as they contribute to surface thatch if left on the lawn, which in turn encourages moss • Never remove more than one third of the total height of the grass in any one cut • Don’t cut your lawn too short - less than 25mm (1”). This should be increased to at least 50mm (2”) during dry spells Cutting the grass very short can have a negative impact, as it will weaken the grass plant and encourage lawn disease, weeds and moss. For a solution to reduce the rate at which your grass grows, please see overleaf.
There are many different types of lawn pests that can wreak havoc with your lawn. In the Houston, the most common pests are Chafer grubs and Leatherjackets.
What are Chafer grubs and Leatherjackets?Chafer grubs are the larvae of the Chafer Beetle and have a life cycle of between 1-3 years; curved like the letter C, they have white fleshy bodies, light brown heads and grow to 10-15mm in size. Leatherjackets are the larvae of the Cranefly (daddy longlegs), with a life cycle of approx. 1 year; these pests are legless, brown/grey and 4cm long when fully grown.
How do these pests damage the lawn?Leatherjackets damage the lawn by eating the stem and the root of the grass plant, unlike Chafers which survive on healthy turf roots. In both cases, once the grass roots have been eaten, the turf will become detached from its soil moorings, cutting off the plant’s source of nutrients and water.
Moss thrives in damp and shady areas; lawns usually affected are those with heavy surface thatch or clay soil. It is important never to cut your lawn less than 25mm (1”) as scalped lawns are also prone to moss.