Rolls of fresh grass turf and blue sky

ID of Turf Landscape Diseases

Awareness is Half the Battle

Florida is known for its lush greenery and gorgeous landscapes. Unfortunately, some of the same conditions that create beautiful outdoor spaces also lead to common landscape diseases. Rust, take-all root, brown patch, and gray leaf spot are sometimes mistaken for weather-related stress and damage. Be aware of any changes happening to your lawn. Discolored patches can be a sign of disease.


St. Augustinegrass and zoysiagrass are common targets, but perennial ryegrass is also susceptible to rust. This disease prefers the cool weather and slow growth of late fall through early spring. Though rust does not actually kill the grass, it does makes it look ugly. The good news is that once warm weather returns and grass begins to grow rapidly, rust seems to disappear.

Stressors like nutrient deficiencies and shade result in more severe infections. High humidity, dew, rain, or irrigation can cause the leaves to stay wet long enough for infection to occur.

Signs and Symptoms

Light yellow flecks are the first sign to appear. Left unchecked, the disease will progress into large spore-containing spots and pustules that run parallel to the leaf vein. If thin, yellow to light brown areas appear on your lawn, it could be a sign of a rust infection.  

Take-all Root Rot

Any warm season turfgrass can be susceptible during prolonged periods of rain and stress. Florida is used to rainy summer and early fall months, but if lawns do not drain properly, they become a target of this fungal root infection. Root damage cuts the connection between the roots and leaves, so water and nutrients cannot make it to the leaves, and the products of photosynthesis have nowhere to go. Since the fungus does not directly attack leaves, you may not see symptoms until weeks after infection.

Signs and Symptoms

Yellow or light green patches may be your first indication of disease. Check for thin, off-white roots that have small black lesions. Roots will eventually rot and turn black. Your best bet is prevention. Too much of some good things, like water and fertilizers, can cause root rot to worsen.

Brown Patch

Zoysiagrass and St. Augustinegrass are particularly susceptible to brown patch, or large patch. It is a fungal disease that presents with round discolored patches that may have a sunken brown center with an orange border. Cool, damp spring weather is ideal for brown patch. Once summer comes, new growth by the surrounding grass may cover dead patches, giving you the false impression that all is well. Watch carefully for signs of infection in the fall when temperatures drop below 80 degrees. Rain, irrigation, and high humidity that cause leaves to stay wet for at least 48 hours may trigger brown patch.

Signs and Symptoms

Brown patch affects the leaf of turfgrasses. The fungus kills the leaves by attacking the area closest to the soil. Roots are unaffected, so if you are able to easily pull leaves off their stems, check for soft, dark rot at the base of the leaves.

Gray Leaf Spot

Warm, rainy periods are to blame for the prevalence of gray leaf spot. St. Augustinegrass is the only target of this fungal disease. Gray leaf spot slows the growth and recovery of both new and established lawns. Warm, moist conditions will exacerbate growth of spores on the oblong leaf spot, which is symptomatic of the disease. While it is a chronic nuisance, gray leaf spot does not usually cause significant damage to well-established home lawns.

Prevention is Key

Stress, whether caused by weather conditions or location, can make your lawn more susceptible to common landscape diseases. Too much or too little water can stress turfgrass, leaving it vulnerable. Taking care of your lawn through proper maintenance will save you time and money in the long run. Remember, your lawn is a living entity and needs care and upkeep if it is to flourish in the Florida sun.

If it becomes apparent disease is a problem that needs more attention than you can give, contact the team at Duda Sod for professional lawn care services.