August 30, 2013 0 Comments

One of the nice things about the dry weather over the last few months is that the weeds aren’t taking over the garden.  Which is good, since it is just too hot to get out there to keep them under control!

I managed to get out Sunday morning before it got WAY too hot.  I ended up weeding and deadheading most of the garden before I had to get inside to get cleaned up to head to Cosgrove’s Pork Day celebration.  However, as I was moving around the yard doing my gardening duty, my feet were changing color….

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Hmmm.  Not good.  One of my Vinton Youth Garden volunteers had just told me that she had rust in her yard that they had just put in last year.  I thought it was something that only appeared in relatively new lawns.  Ours was put in 16 years ago.  Apparently not. It was hard to get a good picture of, but you can see it in the yard as a reddish area on the grass.

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Rust looks bad, and is an indication that something is wrong with your yard, but it does not necessarily mean that you are about to lose your green space.

Rust is actually a fungal disease and usually shows up in lawns that are growing very slowly.  While we have a reddish lawn, it can show up as yellow or brown, too.


Low amounts of nitrogen available to the lawn is a key reason that rust develops.  When there is a low amount of nitrogen available along with a lack of available water, this slows down how fast the grass grows.  As the growth slows down, rust develops.

We had a lot of rain early in the grass growing season that may have leached out the available nitrogen.  This could lead to rust outbreaks.  Cool nights that form heavy dew, and the lack of rainfall lately, have lead to prime conditions for rust to form in area lawns.

While rust won’t kill the grass, it can weaken the plants and make them susceptible to other diseases.  And you can spread the spores pretty easily.  They can be spread by the wind, water, your shoes, your pant legs and lawn mowers.

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You can control rust with good lawn care practices.  Make sure the lawn has plenty of nitrogen available.  Early September is a great time for fertilizing.  Check your soils available phosphorus and potassium levels with regular soil testing.  When rust occurs during late summer, like now, as the temperatures cool (yes, they will eventually), grass growing conditions will improve, too.  That means the grass with grow better, the lawns will become more healthy and the rust will fade away.

You can also try to get ahead of Mother Nature and water your lawn.  In order to get good, deep, healthy roots, you should make sure that the soil gets wet at least 6 inches below the surface.  Twelve is better.  And don’t water a little bit every day.  This will not promote deep root growth.  You should water deeply once every one or two weeks.  Depending on how much sand and/or clay your soil has, this may take a lot of time or a little bit of time.  Either way, it will help you keep your lawn healthy.

Dwayne is the lawn expert at our house.  I’ll pick his brains for another lawn post soon!

Dig it!



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