What Causes Fairy Ring Lawn Disease & How Do You Treat it?

Fairy ring sounds like something magical and lovely…and it does actually come from old folklore. When a fairy ring appears on the lawn, it’s thought to be that this was a place where fairies danced. 

In reality, the truth is far less exciting and (as you probably guessed) does not involve fairies.

Fairy ring lawn disease is actually caused by fungal growth on the lawn. These rings can be unsightly and frustrating. 

In this article, we’ll dive into what causes fairy ring lawn fungus and how you can deal with it if it pops up in your yard.

What Causes Fairy Rings in Grass?

Fairy rings are caused by fungi feeding on decaying matter in the soil. This is one reason why fairy ring lawn fungus sometimes pops up in areas where a tree was removed. The fungi are likely feeding on roots or a stump left behind from the tree.

This is one of the reasons why we always advocate for stump removal. Tree stumps will eventually decay over time and can cause you trouble.

fairy ring in grass

But even leaves or branches left on the grass can ultimately lead to issues with fairy ring lawn disease. Anything that is left on the lawn to decay could potentially cause lawn problems.

This also includes a build-up of thatch

Thatch is the organic layer made up of dead and living stems that naturally occurs on the lawn, where the grass blades emerge from their roots in the soil. A lot of lawns do have lawn thatch—and a little bit of it really isn’t a big deal. 

However, when lawn thatch begins to build up (around more than approximately ½ inch), it can start to cause problems. This is when the thatch may begin to contribute to lawn disease. 

Lawn Thatch in hand

Environmental conditions can also have an impact on fairy ring lawn disease. Ongoing wet conditions are more likely to lead to fungal growth. This is usually due to excessive rainfall but could also be a matter of poor yard drainage (particularly if you have compacted soil).

Finally, it’s important to mention that there is more than one type of fairy ring. Sometimes these circles appear as wilted, yellow, or brown grass. But another type involves the ring showing up as dark green and growing faster than your surrounding lawn.

Fairy ring lawn disease might also involve a ring of mushrooms. Since mushrooms can be poisonous to children and pets, it’s important to be cognizant.

How to Treat Fairy Ring in Your Lawn

The good news is that fairy ring lawn disease rarely causes significant turf problems on a residential lawn. Most of the time, fairy rings just go away on their own as the environmental conditions change. 

However, if you’re concerned about fairy rings on your lawn, you can talk to a lawn care professional about your best course of action (which will differ based on the type of fairy ring). 

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If you have mushrooms on your lawn, these should be removed to protect children and pets. 

Your best course of action is to take steps to prevent future problems. Since fairy rings do commonly recur, preventative action is key.

How to Prevent Fairy Ring Lawn Disease

There are definitely some key steps that you can take to prevent problems in the future.

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Remove The Source of Decay

First and foremost, if you have a known source of decay (like a tree stump or a bunch of fallen leaves), then you’ll want to remove any of that material. 

We understand that life gets busier and you don’t always get around to these tasks but it can make a huge difference in the health of your lawn.

Lawn Aeration

You can also make a big difference in the overall health of your soil by adding lawn aeration to your lawn care program. 

Lawn aeration is the process of making holes throughout your lawn by pulling small soil plugs (called “cores”) with a special machine called a core aerator. By doing this, it helps to break up the thatch and also allows more oxygen, water, and nutrients to penetrate deep into the soil and down to the root zone. 

large machine aerates grass

That’s important because it creates a more favorable environment for the root system to grow and healthier roots add up to a healthier lawn.

This is also going to do wonders for removing thatch.

Water Your Lawn Properly

Finally, you also want to make sure that you are watering your lawn properly. This seems like such an easy task that homeowners almost always assume they’re doing it right. But over-watering is a common problem.

Automatic sprinkler misting corner of green lawn

We hear a lot of concerns about under-watering, but the truth is that overwatering can be just as bad—maybe even worse. When soil becomes oversaturated, it can become waterlogged and you can actually drown your grassroots. 

And as you might have guessed…an overwatered lawn is also more prone to lawn diseases including fairy ring lawn disease.

Working with Lawn Care Services in Pennsylvania

Anytime you’re worried about lawn problems, it helps to have a professional whom you can turn to for answers. After all, fairy lawn fungus is just one type of fungal problem. 

There can also be problems with fungi like red thread, brown patch, or dollar spot. Even the winter can bring snow mold.

Plus, there are issues your lawn could be dealing with due to pests or environmental stressors. The lawn is subject to a lot of potential problems that can really wreak havoc on its health.

But when you’re working with professional lawn care services in Pennsylvania, you don’t have to worry about any of this. You can rest assured a lawn care pro will be carefully evaluating your lawn for problems.

This should restore peace of mind. Even if your lawn does end up with a problem like fairy lawn disease, a pro will be there to help.

By choosing the right lawn care professional, you’ll be able to feel confident that your lawn is in good hands. That smart decision will ensure you have the beautiful and healthy lawn that you desire without lawn problems holding you back.

If you’d like to know more about how Joshua Tree can help meet your lawn needs at your home in the Allentown or Lansdale, PA area, or you have more questions, we’re here to help! Get in touch with us to get some free expert advice and learn more about our lawn care program options.

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