The Grass Fungus Among Us

Long winter takes toll on North Texas grass

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCDFW.com
    Nasty fungus is taking hold of St. Augustine grass in North Texas.

    For some North Texans, the grass is, indeed, greener on the other side.

    Many residents with St. Augustine grass report bald spots on their lawns at a time when their grass should be turning very green.

    Fungus Takes Root in North Texas Lawns

    [DFW] Fungus Takes Root in North Texas Lawns
    A nasty fungus is taking root in North Texas lawns and leaving them bald, but experts say that St. Augustine grass can be nurtured back to life. (Published Tuesday, May 11, 2010)

    Lawn and garden expert Neil Sperry said North Texas' unusually long winter took its toll on the St. Augustine grass, leaving it more susceptible to take-all root rot.

    "That disease causes the same effect as grub worms," Sperry said. "The roots are decayed. They die away because of the disease, and the grass is lifeless on top of the ground."

    Sperry said the take-all root rot this season is the worst he's seen in years.

    It's created big business for companies that sell sod.

    "I know a lot of people's grass isn't coming back this year. It should have already been greened up, and I know I've had a lot of people come in and say, 'I've had small area or a big area that didn't come back,'" said J.W. Watson, owner of Arlington Grass Company.

    In some cases, the grass is simply taking longer to green up, but Sperry said it's better to nurture what you have back to life.

    "Adding a layer of peat moss, about a 1-inch layer of peat moss on top of the ground -- beating it until it's very fine -- you don't want to put big clods of it," Sperry said. "The grass greens up; it's almost as if it was a fertilizer."

    Peat moss is available at most gardening stores.