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Brown Patch Fungus Control For Warm-Season Grasses

July 2, 2023

Georgia's lush green lawns are a point of pride for homeowners and commercial property, especially those served by Pride in Turf, one of the best lawn fertilizer companies in Atlanta. Maintaining beautiful lawns can be challenging, especially when faced with the threat of brown patch fungus disease. Hopefully, this article will help provide information to help in your endeavors with your lawn.

Sometimes, you have to do some investigating to get to the bottom of the situation in your lawn to determine the cause of the brown spots. You first need to know what you are dealing with. Pride in Turf is always here to help.

Brown Patch Fungus

Many conditions can cause brown brown patches or areas of dead grass in your lawn. Brown patch disease is a prevalent lawn disease that is caused by the specific fungus Rhizoctonia solani. It primarily affects cool-season grasses, such as tall fescue, Kentucky bluegrass, and perennial ryegrass. This type of fungus usually occurs in mid to late summer in hot and humid weather.

Brown patch disease can wreak havoc on Georgia lawns and causes unsightly patches and weakened grass. Our goal is to give you a better understanding of brown patch and effective measures to control it.

Identification of Brown Patch

Since brown patch is a foliar disease, it harms the grass blades, but not the plant's crown or root system. Symptoms of brown patch can vary, and depend on factors such as climate and soil management of the turfgrass. Symptoms include circular patches of yellow or light brown, wilted grass that can measure anywhere from a few inches to several feet in diameter.

There may be yellow patches and/or brown patches that are roughly circular in affected areas. You may see a thin dark brown border around the patches that appears mostly during morning hours. It is surrounded by a smoke ring border and, usually, thinned patches of grass in the center. In the early morning, a grayish-white web-like mycelium can sometimes be observed on the grass blades and sometimes is mistaken for Pythium SPP.

Another type of fungal disease that has many similarities to brown patch is large patch (or zoysia patch). Either grass type can have very similar results, as they both have circular patches and brown patches. However, both types of fungus are affected are differently. Both types of fungus usually display thinned patches of light brown grass that is roughly circular in shape. Large patch prefers warm season grasses, and grasses commonly affected are zoysia and St. Augustine grass. On the other hand, brown patch prefers cooler weather grasses, and grasses commonly affected are tall fescue, ryegrass, and bluegrass. Both of these come from the family Rhizoctonia solani but are separate species and affect different grass types. Regardless of the grass species, the symptoms are very similar. So, even though they are in the same family and have very similar results, brown patch affects cool weather grasses (like tall fescue) where large patch affects warm weather grasses (like St. Augustine).

Understanding Brown Patch

Brown patch lawn disease is a prevalent lawn disease that thrives in warm, humid climates (like in Georgia). It becomes more active when temperates are warm (75 - 85 degrees) with high humidity or extended periods of leaf wetness, commonly in the early spring and mid to late fall.

As stated, brown patch is caused by the Rhizoctonia fungus. Other conditions that are favorable for brown patch are humid conditions and daytime temperatures of over 80 degrees during and nighttime temperatures over 60 degrees. Other conditions conducive to brown patch are periods of wet weather, such as abundant rainfall and continual wetness for 48 hours or more. Brown patch starts to develop when grass blades are continuously wet for days at a time.

Prevention of Brown Patch

It is important to identify this fungus early. Once your grass is infected, it can thin our your turf and cause significant damage to your entire lawn. Preventing brown patch can be challenging, but it is very possible.

The saying "prevention is better than the cure" holds true for lawn diseases, and brown patch is no exception. In order to help prevent brown patch in your lawn, proper lawn care if important. Following are some measures you can take in preventing fungal diseases and reduce the risk for brown patch fungus in your lawn.

Proper Lawn Maintenance:

It is important to properly maintain your lawn according to your turfgrass species, as a healthy lawn is more resilient to diseases and important to brown patch control. Follow a regular mowing schedule and ensure your grass stays at the recommended height. Avoid scalping the lawn, as this weakens the grass, making it more susceptible to infections. Lawns mowed correctly are more resistant to brown patch.

Watering Practices:

Overwatering creates an ideal environment for brown patch to thrive. Water your lawn in the early morning to allow time for the grass to dry during the day. Avoid evening watering, as extended periods of leaf wetness promotes disease development. Only irrigate based on weather conditions and in the early morning hours before sunrise. This will help control the dew covered turf and helps speed up the drying process. Never water after sunrise. It is best to avoid establishing turf in low areas or areas where water collects, as this could create problems with this disease.

Aerate and Dethatch:

Have your lawn aerated and dethatched annually. This helps the oxygen, nutrients, and water to filter through so they penetrate the roots. Aeration is good to correct soil compaction and dethatching is also important to prevent excessive thatch buildup. These things improve soil drainage, correct soil compaction, and reduce excess moisture helping maintain a beautiful lawn.

Proper Air Circulation:

It is important to help air circulation, as proper airflow reduces humidity levels in the lawn. Trim overhanging branches and vegetation that may obstruct air circulation. Air movement is very important to help prevent excessive moisture.


Fertilization is important for your lawn; however, lush, actively growing grass is more vulnerable to brown patch attacks. It is best not to use a nitrogen fertilizer, as brown patch is more severe in lawns that have been fertilized with excessive nitrogen. Use a lawn fertilizer with balanced nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium as this will keep the potassium levels in check.

Effective Control Measures

It is important to identify this fungus early. Once your grass is infected, it can thin out your turn and cause significant damage to your lawn. Lawns affected by brown patch can be corrected with some proper care. The following are some preventive measures in controlling brown patch you can take to improve your lawn and avoid fungal disease:

Improve Drainage:

If your lawn is prone to waterlogging, consider improving drainage by amending the soil with compost or using drainage solutions. It is important to address areas of poor soil drainage to prevent areas that are more prone to developing brown patch.

Reduce Shade:

If possible, trim trees and shrubs to allow more sunlight to reach the lawn. If you have structures in your yard that create too much shade, you may need to remove them or move them to another area. Too much shade causes increased humidity and conditions more conducive to brown patch. Reduced shade will help increase air circulation and decrease humidity, creating an unfavorable environment for the fungus.


Apply fungicides specifically designed to prevent brown patch fungus. It is important to try cultural measures before using chemical control. Look for chemical control fungicides containing active ingredients like azoxystrobin, propiconazole, or flutolanil. Follow the instructions and recommended application rates very carefully. The best fungicides are typically only available to professionals, so you should contact Pride in Turf for help in this area.


Reseed with resistant varieties when overseeding or repairing your lawn. Again, contact Pride in Turf if need help with this.


Cool-season grasses, like tall fescue, may turn brown in the summer as they go into dormancy from the excessive heat. If your cool-season grass in your home lawn has brown patches in late spring, it may be due to many factors. Some possible causes of unhealthy areas of grass in home lawns can be caused by compacted soil, insect infestation, lawn mower injury, pet damage, uneven fertilizer application, or too much or too little water. It also could be a sign of a fungal disease, such as brown patch fungus.

Good lawn care practices are very important to prevent brown patch fungus or help get rid of it. You need to irrigate grass as needed; however, be careful not to over-water. You also must be sure your lawn has good drainage so that you do not have excessive water in your lawn. Water standing in your lawn or too much moisture over a period of time can start the growth of fungus.

If you start to see brown spots or circular patches, you need to find out the cause of that in order to keep your lawn healthy. You can follow the guidelines above for for good lawn maintenance and care. If you are unable to determine what is causing your lawn problem, or what you are doing is not working, contact Pride in Turf for help.

Pride in Turf has professionals who are well-trained and knowledgeable about all your lawn care needs. They can help you determine what your lawn needs, and they will be happy to take care of the problem for you.

Contact your local experts at Pride in Turf for your lawn care needs. They want your lawn to be beautiful and lush, so that you can enjoy it. Pride in Turf wants your lawn to be the envy of the neighborhood!

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