What You Need to Know About Fungus & Mold in Your Landscape

You have worked hard all year and it really shows – a warranted pat on the back is due! Late summer is the perfect time of year to feel proud of your lawn and garden as you take in a harvest or sip iced tea while gazing at the hostas. You may have started to notice, however, some spots in your beautiful landscaping that appear to be suspect… While some browning in your lawn is expected during the heat of the summer, some areas may be affected by pesky culprits we know as mold and fungus! All molds are a type of fungus but not all fungi is a type of mold. It can feel a tad confusing but it’s essentially a matter of characterizing them so we can quickly act to identify the best course of action for your yard. 

The words, mold and fungus, may be off-putting, but fear not! We are here to help tackle them both head-on so they don’t ruin the anticipation of your late summer dahlia blooms. We know how to identify them, how to treat them, and, most importantly, how to prevent them in the future! 

Lawn Fungus

Throughout the summer months, you may have noticed some patchy brown areas in your grass.  With the weekly scheduled lawn watering you committed to earlier in the season, these have most likely trended towards dissipation. Unfortunately, if you’re still seeing those spots after watering and they are growing, then you may be dealing with lawn fungus that will need some tending to. With some attention and early treatment, your lawn can definitely bounce back!

Typical fungus thrives in conditions of poor drainage, overirrigation, or overly shaded areas where grass tends to remain damp throughout the day. To take care of the issue at hand, it’s a good rule of thumb to learn each type of fungus for early detection so it doesn’t become a repeated problem. Let us help you with that!

Types of Fungus

Fungus can easily go unnoticed if you aren’t paying attention, so it’s important that you know what they are and how to spot them.

The four main types of lawn fungus are:

  • Fairy Ring – Just as the name implies, you’ll see rings of brown patches in your lawn. Most of this type of fungus develops near dead vegetation
  • Rust – Lots of moisture in the grass will entice this one! It’s recognizable by its yellowish green and brown spots
  • Pink Snow Mold – White or pink mold spots may appear after periods of heavy rain and poor drainage
  • Slime Mold – This mold loves grass that hasn’t been clipped and areas that have remained damp. You will definitely notice this one; as the name states, it’s slimy! 
  • Dog Vomit Mold – Yes, we said it! Dog vomit mold isn’t just an unsavory name for what’s in your garden, but it’s a type of mold we get calls about all the time! So much so, in fact, that we are happy to go into more detail with this one!

Dog Vomit Mold

This type of slime mold lives primarily in your mulch and definitely deserves its own call-out. It has a look of fluffy, light yellow eggs, but, do not worry, it doesn’t want anything to do with your living, thriving plants. Phew – breathe a sigh of relief here! While it’s certainly unsightly, it isn’t harmful as its only pleasure is decaying organic material.

Dog vomit mold, also known as scrambled egg fungus, is not the most lovely thing to see, so let’s talk about reducing the appearance and getting rid of it! 

Simply raking it out of your mulch or lawn may be enough here! It typically prefers a damper condition, so if it’s raked out and exposed to the heat of the midday sun, it very well might dry up and cease growth. It won’t harm your plants even if they are edibles planned for human consumption, but be sure to not place it in your compost bin as it could encourage more growth in later plantings. 

Prevention of Fungus and Mold

With some raking of the dead overgrowth or brown patches, increased mows, and limiting weekly waterings to every other week, for example, you might begin to see your lawn’s fungus issues turn around. Sadly, it isn’t always that simple! The best thing you can do is prevent the fungus and mold from even growing in the first place. We know, we know, it’s easier said than done.

A few things you can do to help prevent lawn fungus:

  • Water your lawn in the early morning
    • Stick to your watering schedule
    • Early morning waterings help your lawn to absorb the needed H2O for the day without leaving it dampened throughout the evening, making a breeding ground for fungal growth 
  • Don’t over-fertilize or overseed the lawn
    • Too much of a good thing is, well, too much! Over-seeding gives the fungal spores more opportunity to spread, and that is a definite thing to avoid 
  • Mow at the proper setting
    • Cutting the grass too short can weaken it and make it easier for fungus to grow
    • If you’re seeing breakage at the top of your lawn, even with the mower at the proper setting, check your mower blades and have them sharpened
  • Apply a fungicide
    • Be sure to speak with one of our trusted associates if you aren’t sure how to incorporate this into your lawn   

In short, if you’re not seeing your lawn and garden bounce back to its formerly lush self, these are some methods that work well in returning longevity and health. 

Getting Rid of Mold and Fungus

Through trial and error, you’ll gain knowledge. With mold being something that could come back again, discussing a combination of fungicide and fertilizer might be in your landscaping’s favor. 

Once fungus has started, it can get out of hand fast. Raking it out, breaking it up to dry out, adding a fungicide, watering on a schedule, and keeping your mowing dialed in will truly be to your benefit. 

While prevention is ideal, it’s also okay to admit when something has gotten away from you, and we will be here for you every step of the way! Don’t hesitate to give us a call or ask a trusted and knowledgeable associate next time you’re in!