The soil that our lawns grow in contains lots of different types of fungus. Fungus plays an important role in the health of your lawn. It helps to break down dead organic matter and releases nutrients in to the soil that can be used by the grass plants.
Fungus is a living organism. It lives, eats and reproduces. The body of the fungus is called Hyphae (see image above). The hyphae look like roots of plants and play a similar role. They absorb nutrients from their surroundings.
Unlike other lawn enemies, fungus can be a friend and an enemy of the grass plant. For fungus to be a friend, it needs to work in harmony with the grass plants. Therefore, fungal management plays an important role in caring for your lawn.
How Does Fungus Become A Problem?
Fungi can be categorised in several different ways. One way of categorising them is to categorise them by the way in which they like to absorb their food. One type of fungus absorbs their food from dead organic material, whilst the other prefers to absorb their nutrients from living tissue.
The hyphae (a collection of hyphae is called Mycelium), can cause a problem if the amount within the soil grows to excess. Mycelium prevents water from freely moving round the soil due to something called hydrophobia. It is therefore important to manage the level of fungus within your lawn’s soil to ensure the level of different fungi does not become too much for the soil to handle. These types of fungi are the types that eat the dead organic material in the soil.
Problems associated with these types of fungi are also called soil borne fungi.
What Are The Most Common Problems Caused By Soil Borne Fungi?
The most common problems caused by soil borne fungi are:
1. Fairy Ring
2. Localised Compaction
What Is A Fungal Disease?
The other type of fungi that we experience in our lawns is a disease causing fungi, otherwise known as a pathogenic fungi. These are the ones that require a host (something to live on or in) and feed on living tissue.
An example of a pathogenic fungal disease that feeds of human tissue (on our bodies) is a fungal nail infection. This infection starts to feed on the living nails of human beings, and absorbs the nutrients from our nails. The fungal disease will not affect any other part of our body, but can make our nails look awful! These types of fungi are difficult to control without the correct treatments.
Similarly, in a lawn, a fungal disease lives off the tissue of the grass plant. The disease literally eats its way through the grass plants leaves and absorbs the nutrients as it goes. Most lawn fungal diseases only attack the leaves of the plant, and will never actually kill the entire plant, but just like a fungal nail infection, it can make the plants look terrible.
I’ve Got Mushrooms In My Lawn, Does This Mean I’ve Got A Fungal Disease In My Lawn?
Fungi reproduce through several different methods. One of these methods is through mushrooms. Mushrooms are referred to as the fruiting body of some types of fungi. However, lawn fungal diseases do not spread through mushrooms, so having mushrooms in your lawn is not a sign of a fungal disease being present in your lawn. For more information, click here.
How Do I Manage The Level Of Fungi and Fungal Diseases In My Lawn?
Fungus prefers a moisture rich environment. Ensuring your lawn is scarified, aerated and overseeded on an annual basis will help manage the level of fungi and fungal diseases in your lawn, whilst at the same time improving the overall condition.
When fungus becomes more of a problem, we have the option to apply a fungicide treatment. This type of treatment will help treat the fungal problem that is present at the time of treatment, but will not prevent recurrence.