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The Disease Triangle [How to Prevent Lawn Disease]

Posted by Nate Bahler on Aug 27, 2021 2:35:27 PM
Nate Bahler

What is the disease triangle? 

The disease triangle in lawn care consists of the 3 factors (susceptible host, pathogen spores, environment) that are needed to be present for a lawn disease to exist. If one is missing, a lawn disease will not be present.  

You need 3 components for any turf grass disease or pathogen to take over.  They are:

  1. Susceptible Host
  2. Fungal Pathogen Spores
  3. Environment

How do I prevent Lawn Disease?

When we look at prevention for disease, we have to take a look at which of these 3 factors we can control and interrupt.  Since we need all 3 of these for a disease to be present, if we can disrupt just one, we can effectively control a fungal infection on turf/ prevention in our lawns. 

Let’s take a deeper dive:

1.  The Host

Let’s try to choose turf grass varieties that are less susceptible to disease.  This is an important first step.
We have to remember that some fungi affect some species of grasses more than others. For example, Rye grass is very susceptible to Pythium Blight which we have seen a lot this summer. But it can be strong against some other diseases.
What’s important here is to have some genetic diversity and have a blend of grasses.  Grabbing a bag of 100% rye grass is not something we recommend.  We like to include A-list grass seed in our blends. A-list certified grasses have been tested and proven to be among the most disease resistant. 

2. The Pathogen

Here, we do not have a lot of control.  Unfortunately, pathogens are present. What we can control is environments that ‘protect’ pathogen spores. 

Pathogen spores will hide out until all of the perfect conditions are presented for them to arise.  We can control areas that protect pathogens.

What are these areas? Thatch offers great protection for disease pathogens. By controlling and removing thatch in our lawns, we can take away that nice “home” for disease pathogens to hide out and lay dormant in. A great way to control thatch in your lawn is with Core Aeration. 

3. Environment

This can include both the weather and our property.  When it comes to the weather, obviously that’s completely out of our control. When it comes to our property, we are talking about the grade of our lawn, the type of soil we have, the amount of water our lawn receives and the drainage we have.  

We can’t control the weather but there are some environmental factors we can control. We can control moisture (many diseases thrive in high moisture). We can improve drainage (thatch) with Aeration. We can Install drains. We want water to be able to evacuate as quickly as possible.

How can we fix this other than with dethatching? Set irrigation properly! We do not want to over water - we want our systems tuned into what the weather is. 

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Since 2007, Green Meadow Lawn Care has provided homeowners throughout the greater Tolland, Connecticut area with premium fertilization programs, tick control, mosquito management, seeding & aeration and tree & shrub care.

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