Take All Root Rot.

Posted on 01. Aug, 2019 by in Lawn Care

Last June I wrote this post about a growing crisis in Houston lawns. My fears were realized in a growing Take All Root Rot epidemic.

If you are reading this then you either suspect your lawn has or might get  Take All Root Rot.  

Let me explain a little bit more about what Take All Root Rot is, what it does and can do and our recommended treatment

 

What Is It?

Take All Root Rot is a fungus that exists in the soil that can cause the roots of your grass to literally rot away to nothing. It naturally exists in many soils and may stay dormant for years, but activates under certain conditions. The soil saturation levels and compaction caused by consistent rain over the last year has activated a lot of this invasive fungus in a variety of lawns.

Damage.

 

Initially Take All may appear as blade yellowing or liming, grass thinning in regular or irregular patterns, weeds starting to fill in in places they weren’t before. If you pull on the grass it may come up easily in your hand and you might notice that the roots are blackened or short.

As it spreads it may kill off large sections of grass, leaving ugly bare spaces, dead runners and weeds. 

 

Possible Causes.

There are several possible reasons why Take All may suddenly be affecting your lawn now when previously it has stayed healthy. It is normally a combination of factors that lead to damage:

 

– Regular rains caused constant soil saturation from July 2018 through to March 2019, although it has dried out since then it hasn’t been enough to offset the damage.

– Soil compaction (widespread in Houston due to our heavy clay soils – even if you have had aeration in the past year.)

– Shade – as trees continue to mature they are creating more shade for our sun-loving St. Augustine.

– Over-watering (in addition to the rain)

– Mowing too short or too long (St. Augustine should be cut about  3″ on a regular basis)

– Improper pH 

– Chemical fertilizers (there are specific chemical nitrogens that appear to aggravate the fungus)

– Herbicides: can also aggravate the fungus.

Treatment.

Although I expect many minor cases of Take All to resolve themselves if we experience more regular periods of dry weather, there are a number of measures that should be implemented so that Take All damage can be stopped, managed or prevented in the future. 

– Fungicide: although Take All is a fungus, a chemical fungicide does not often provide effective control and should only be used as one part of a treatment plan if used at all. We only recommend it as a first step.

– Comprehensive soil testing to ensure any imbalances can be addressed.

– Aeration and compost top dressing to decompact soils and increase soils natural ‘antibodies’ to fungal attack.

–  Peat moss top dressing

– Organic fertilization and treatment program, include a cornmeal supplement.

– Minimize the use of chemical herbicides as much as possible.

 

 

Please note that re-sodding an area of damage is not a solution. Take All exists in the soil and whilst replacing sod may give an immediate improvement to the appearance of the lawn, it does nothing to resolve the underlying issue in the soil. We only recommend re-sodding in severe cases when done in conjunction with the above measures.

Care and Maintenance.

Mowing.

– Mow regularly (at least once a week) at a height of 3″.

– Bag clippings.

– Minimize edging.

– If possible supply the lawn equipment, if this is not possible ask the crew to use a small push mower only.

– Equipment should be cleaned before every mow and blades sharpened regularly.

 

Watering

– Basic watering guides can be seen here. But I encourage you to take the time to monitor your lawn and customize the plan. 

Take All lawns suffer from underdeveloped root systems so it may be that your lawn dries out faster. Water the lawn well but let it dry out regularly to encourage the root system to grow down.

Ideally you want to reach the point at which the soil is dry to a depth of 6″ plus before you water.

Consider purchasing your own soil moisture tester if you don’t already have one.

If your lawn is always soft underfoot and or noticeably wet even after consecutive days of sunshine consider investigating possible causes ie a leak in the sprinkler line, drain line or underground pipe. If unsure your local mud district should be able to provide information about lines under your lawn and possibly even test for leaks.

Weed Control

Unfortunately chemical herbicides have been found to aggravate Take All Root Rot and can easily increase damage. Hand pulling weeds or organic weedkillers like Crabgrass killer are suggested replacements.

Realistically these are both time or product intensive, if time and/or budget do not allow for it then I suggest treating only when absolutely necessary with a spot spray Celsius herbicide.

Chemical pre-emergent is not recommended.

Conclusion.

A lot of these suggestions are focused on creating a healthy lawn and minimizing weeds.

I sincerely wish I had a chemical fungicide or simple solution to this problem. 

Mother Nature is going to play a deciding factor in the control of Take All. If it dries out many cases will recover or even subside completely. If it stays wet then all of the above and more may be needed.

Please contact us with any questions or leave comments in the box below.

One Response to “Take All Root Rot.”


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