It’s a bird, it’s a plane…IT’S TAKE-ALL. The cool temperatures and extra rainfall during the spring months might be great for our plants, but they can also create perfect conditions for certain fungal diseases. While a vigorous lawn and healthy soil can deter pests and diseases, even well-cared for lawns can succumb to aggressive diseases, more specifically Take-All Root Rot (TARR).
What is Take-All Root Rot?
TARR is an aggressive fungal disease that is infecting lawns all across North Texas. The disease is in the soil, not the turf. Therefore, TARR can not be eradicated, only controlled. If TARR is left unchecked, it is liable to cause devastating loss to your turf. While St. Augustine is the most susceptible; Bermudagrass, Zoysiagrass and Centipedegrass can all fall victim to the disease as well.
TARR appears irregularly throughout the lawn.
Symptoms of TARR:
- Your grass is slow to emerge in the spring or not greening up at all. There has been significant loss this year in turf that was previously infected with TARR. Check out our recent blog post about the freeze damage.
- Young leaf blades often turn chlorotic (yellow or very pale green). These symptoms are often mistaken for general chlorosis (a nutrient deficiency) or chinch bug damage.
- Biggest difference between TARR and general chlorosis: TARR will cause yellowing in your lawn in much less uniform patches.
- Chlorotic blades quickly fade to brown.
- Large patches up to several feet across will die off in an irregular pattern (as opposed to defined or circular patches).
- The roots will also be dark brown as they begin to rot away.
Our Success Story
Over the past 10 years, trial and error has resulted in a successful, fully organic “kitchen sink” approach at controlling Take-All. Since TARR is a soil-borne fungus, it cannot be eradicated, only controlled. Regular amendments coupled with our Liquid Compost applications really do wonders for managing this disease. It is an ongoing battle that most homeowners are not able to tackle on their own. Don’t be afraid to seek help!
If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, please contact a professional lawn care maintenance team to properly diagnose and offer a treatment plan. TARR can be difficult to treat. The best prevention is good lawn care practices year-round including proper watering, fertilizing and mowing. For more detailed information about Take-All Root Rot, visit our Organic Advice section here.
Be sure to visit our Resource section for details on various pests and diseases that could be ailing your lawn and landscape.
As humans, we feel the need to fix everything. We see a problem and we instinctively try to find a solution. Unfortunately, Mother Nature does not come with an instruction manual. When you are unfamiliar with the task at hand (landscaping for example), your ego can overcome your ability to ask for help; leaving you with a bigger mess than what you started with.
When it comes to lawn maintenance, there is more than meets the eye.
Not everyone is equipped with the right skills and knowledge to take care of their lawn. Most homeowners begin their landscape maintenance journey with high hopes and confidence that they can do it on their own and burn out quickly when they can’t diagnose or resolve their issues. You don’t have to conquer your landscape battles on your own!
How does the weather come into play?
Too much rain can cause fungal issues, not enough rain can cause dehydration. Mild winters or springs (major trend this year) can cause more weeds and a longer transition time out of dormancy. Needless to say, in our industry, the weather controls everything. We are truly at the mercy of what Mother Nature decides to throw at us each day. Our decisions have to be prompt, diligent and meticulous. As you can imagine, having to base those decisions off of a prediction can be stressful to say the least.
Don’t be afraid to call the experts!
Our landscapes are truly a force to be reckoned with. Luckily, this isn’t our first rodeo! After being in the business for 20 years now, we have learned to accept and respect the ebb & flow of Texas’ seasons and unpredictable weather patterns.
Is your choice of turf variety hindering the full potential of your landscape?
Bermuda lawns need abundant sunlight to thrive. If your landscape does not allow for at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, it is not a practical growing environment for Bermudagrass.
St. Augustine on the other hand is known to only require 4+ hours of direct sunlight but it comes along with its own baggage. While it is a good alternative, St. Augustine is not native to Texas and is seemingly always under stress unless put in the perfect conditions. It has been especially stressed this year due to the major freeze damage that has occurred from the previous winter. It is also extremely prone to fungal issues like Brown Patch and one in particular that can cause significant damage to the health of the turf - Take All Root Rot.
Healthy St Augustine lawn
Although Bermuda & St Augustine are the usual "go to" picks, you do have other options that are appealing to the eye and fairly tolerant to shade & pesky diseases!
It’s time to get practical!
We know first hand as Texans that we love our lawns and our shady trees! But just like most things in life, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. It may be time stop fighting a losing battle and start accommodating your growing environment instead of disrupting it.
So, who wins?
Mother Nature-1 Human-0.
Stop trying to predict her next move and go with the flow!
Things we do know:
The weather and seasons are always changing. Our lives are much simpler when we accept the changes instead of trying to fight them.
Most grasses do not survive in significant shade. Maybe install some large beds that expand out about halfway to the canopy of the tree. You could fill the beds with shade tolerant ground cover, river rock or hardwood bark mulch. You can even install a water feature or if you need some good luck- throw a garden gnome in there!
If you don’t know, ask! Don’t get yourself in a pickle because you don’t want to ask for help. We are here to provide practical, natural minded advice and treatment for your landscape. We want everyone to win!
In this day and age, everything is fast-paced, convenient and results driven. We like to drive the fastest cars, eat at the quickest restaurants and wait in the shortest lines. If you are making the plunge to go organic, be prepared to wait. If you truly want to be organic you have to let go of the control and let nature run its course.
Regardless of your approach, we are all after the same outcome: a beautiful, healthy, disease free lawn. Can we prevent that? Yes, to some extent. Our homemade liquid compost is designed to do a majority of the grunt work when it comes to disease prevention but it is no silver bullet.
We extract a large amount of fresh local worm castings (worm poop) into the liquid compost extract which provides a huge population of protozoa, flagellates and beneficial bacteria and fungi. These are top of the food chain in the microbiology world and do much of the heavy lifting in keeping soil borne insects and fungal/bacterial issues at bay.
Balance is KEY
Our ideology is to limit interventions with both chemical and organic pesticides to sustain an environment that Mother Nature intended. In other words, if it is viable for things to be worked out on their own, then we choose that route first. Pesticide use can result in a sterilized environment which can disrupt the natural order of prey/predator that occurs in a properly functioning ecosystem. Any products, chemical or organic, used to treat a pathogen not only eliminates the unwanted target, but can also deter the beneficial components. This results in plants becoming vulnerable and more susceptible to pathogens, and can also make your landscape more dependent on pesticide treatments.
For example, scale is a very common pathogen that attacks Crepe Myrtles. In nature, ladybug larvae are the predator and scale is the prey. If a client has active scale on their Crepe Myrtle and it is not out of control, we find it to be much more beneficial to try and let the ladybug larvae take care of it first.
Scale on a Crepe Myrtle
While limiting intervention is a goal of ours, some situations do call for interference. If you are a customer of our Soil Building Program, it is possible for issues to arise in between our normal visits. If you think that something is going on out of the ordinary, it is always good to contact us so we can address it before it gets out of control.
Take the plunge!
If you’re going to be organic, changing your perspective is valuable to your happiness with your decision.
After many years of experience we’ve come to understand the importance on the emphasis of balance in our environment. With enough trust and patience, we promise you that going organic will benefit you in the long run.