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Old 11-19-2011, 04:32 PM   #1
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What is wrong with my Bermuda Grass: Infected With A Fungus?


I have a section of my front yard that seems to be turning from a nice lush green to a yellow/brownish color. I've already done the test for chinch bugs and it came up negative. Here is a photo of the section in question:



If you notice, there is a flower bed behind that patch of grass. The front yard slopes down, towards the street, making the flower bed higher in elevation than the yard. Here are some samples of the fungus/mushrooms that are growing in the mulch:





Some of the fungus/mushrooms look like a bees nest or a honeycomb. Others look like a regular ol mushroom. I noticed that my bushes/plants in that flower bed started to get sick looking (brown spots, not growing) and that seemed to have spread to the yard. When water runs off the property it drains directly into that area you see the yellow grass. That yellow grass doesn't seem to grow, is very patchy looking up close, and stays at a constant 1/2' - 3/4' tall.

Lastly, here are some background details about the home and yard:

1. Built in Feb 2011 in Katy, Tx (outside Houston)
2. Had a hard freeze early Feb 2011 (sod was brown)
3. Grass started to grow in March except for that area
4. I water on a regular basis using an irrigation system
5. I fertilized 2 times since March. I stopped due to drought
6. There is a layer of white "mycelium" beneath the mulch. I've tried using an anti-fungal solution from Home Depot to resolve this issue, but it hasn't helped at all.

I'm at the point where I'm seriously considering digging up that grass and replanting more sod. Any input you can give would be very much appreciated. If you're in the Katy area, I'll even buy you 2 beers lol.

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Old 11-19-2011, 04:41 PM   #2
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What is wrong with my Bermuda Grass: Infected With A Fungus?


How cold it has the weather gotten in your area this fall? The Bermuda could just be beginning to brown out for the winter. Since the area beginning to brown is away from a house it's less protected than the other areas nearer the house. Also since it has been heat stressed through the drought this year it's going to be a lot more sensitive to winter browning. If you can it's certainly needs a good watering and winter fertilization before going dormant. Overall, Bermuda grass really needs fertilization whenever it's growing so not fertilizing it definitely hurt.


Last edited by Msradell; 11-19-2011 at 05:02 PM.
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Old 11-19-2011, 04:44 PM   #3
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What is wrong with my Bermuda Grass: Infected With A Fungus?


Bermuda will be going brown about this time but do follow up on the possibility of fungus especially if there is lots of thatch in the turf and you have watered late in the day. Now is not a bad time to dethatch and overseed with annual grass seed if you want. You can also buy a die for bermuda. Looks kind of weird to me though.

By the way, could you update your info to include general information about your location? Makes it easier to respond. I see you included the info in your post though so thanks for that.

The box store fungicides may not be strung enough if you have that problem. You will need to source something else or consult a lawn care pro with an applicator license.

Last edited by user1007; 11-19-2011 at 04:48 PM.
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Old 11-19-2011, 06:14 PM   #4
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What is wrong with my Bermuda Grass: Infected With A Fungus?


Thanks for your replies.

This browning has been occurring since April or May. Temperatures and conditions were perfect for bermuda grass to grow. Before we went on water rationing, I was watering every other day for about 4 minutes each zone, twice a day. If you go out to my lawn right now, the dirt is actually kind of muddy (due to the rain we got early in the week). The dirt is always moist so I doubt its a moisture problem.

Thanks for the fertilization suggestion. I think I will fertilize next week. Question about that though. Should I cut then fertilize or fertilize then cut?

sdsester, thanks for the suggestion about going with a professional on the fungicide. I will have to look into that.
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Old 11-19-2011, 06:58 PM   #5
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What is wrong with my Bermuda Grass: Infected With A Fungus?


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Originally Posted by rkanemeier View Post
Thanks for your replies.

This browning has been occurring since April or May. Temperatures and conditions were perfect for bermuda grass to grow. Before we went on water rationing, I was watering every other day for about 4 minutes each zone, twice a day. If you go out to my lawn right now, the dirt is actually kind of muddy (due to the rain we got early in the week). The dirt is always moist so I doubt its a moisture problem.

Thanks for the fertilization suggestion. I think I will fertilize next week. Question about that though. Should I cut then fertilize or fertilize then cut?

sdsester, thanks for the suggestion about going with a professional on the fungicide. I will have to look into that.
I'm not sure how your rationing is set up but you're much better off to water less often for a longer period of time (maybe one zone per day?) that way the water soaks in deeper to encourage root growth downward.

As far as fertilization goes, cut first then fertilized.
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Old 11-19-2011, 07:49 PM   #6
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What is wrong with my Bermuda Grass: Infected With A Fungus?


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Originally Posted by Msradell View Post
I'm not sure how your rationing is set up but you're much better off to water less often for a longer period of time (maybe one zone per day?) that way the water soaks in deeper to encourage root growth downward.

As far as fertilization goes, cut first then fertilized.
Msradell, thanks for your response. I will have to re-examine my run-times but I wanted to throw this out there as to why I chose my current irrigation schedule. My house is built up higher than the curb to avoid flooding. Increasing the run time only creates more run-off since my type of turf can only absorb so many gpm's at that grade.

I'm taking an irrigation design class and there are a lot of factors to consider for setting a schedule (season, elevation changes, type of turf, weather conditions, sun exposure patterns etc etc). I didn't design my irrigation system though (that's a whole other issue I'm having with my lawn right now).

Thanks for the tip on fertilize/cut question.
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Old 11-20-2011, 12:49 PM   #7
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What is wrong with my Bermuda Grass: Infected With A Fungus?


My guess is that about 1 inch below the sod the soil has a high clay content. The soil has become saturated which is common to clay with an almost flat grade. Saturated soil becomes anaerobic and kills most plants.

You can confirm this by cutting a one foot plug from the sod. Then remove a bit more soil and give it a smell. If I'm right, it's not going to be a pleasant smell.

There is no easy fix to this type situation. The sod has to be removed. About three inches of the subsoil has to be removed and discarded. An equal amount of sand has to be spread and mixed into the top three inched of clay to produce a permeable 6 inch soil depth. Check the ph of the mix and if needed correct to somewhere between 6 and 7. You will then be ready to grow a beautiful Bermuda lawn.

The good part is that you will not need your irrigation system unless you go three or more weeks without rain. At some point the savings in water cost will re-coop the cost of the sand.
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Old 11-20-2011, 05:55 PM   #8
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What is wrong with my Bermuda Grass: Infected With A Fungus?


pls8xx, so the big test would be the smell? should i be sending soil samples to our local agriculture department?
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Old 11-20-2011, 07:19 PM   #9
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What is wrong with my Bermuda Grass: Infected With A Fungus?


Smell is one good indicator. There are others. If you select an area and make sharp cuts around it, you may find that the edge can be pried up and then the sod will peel up like a square of carpet because all the roots are in the top 1 inch of soil. Of course I could be totally wrong; you don't give us a lot to go on.

Soil tests can be beneficial, especially if local soils tend to be too acid (ph value below 5.5). Your local agri guy can guide you on whether a test is advisable.

If you have a camera, take pictures of the sod square you remove, grass side and root side. Dig a bit in the soil below and get a photo. Squeeze some into a ball and get a photo.
Report back and we'll reevaluate.

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