Ask the Expert: 6 Tips to Prevent the Most Difficult Summer Turf Disease

This past weekend launched the unofficial start of summer. With summer comes intense heat and high humidity that can trigger turf diseases, wreaking havoc on your customers’ lawns when left unchecked. By practicing some very simple prevention guidelines, you can preserve your hard-earned profits and and keep your customers’ lawns looking good all season long.

To learn more, we’ve consulted John Huber, our subject matter expert and Sustainable Products Manager, to give you the scoop on how you can mitigate turf disease this summer.

From John

Don’t let the dog days of summer curse you with turf disease that can put a strain on your profits.

If your goal this summer is to:

  • Keep your lawns looking green and healthy
  • Save money and increase profits
  • Save time and avoid aggravation
  • Add new customers and increase your market share
  • Enjoy your holidays and family gatherings

All you have to do is plan ahead and be prepared. Follow these simple guidelines, and you can significantly increase your chances of achieving your summer goals.

1. Apply the right amount of fertilizer.

Don’t apply too much. This will not only save you time and money but your lawns will reward you with disease-free, green, healthy turf.

2. Educate your customers on proper irrigation practices.

This will save your customers on their water bill and storm water management fees. Additionally, it will decrease the threat of turf diseases and unsightly heat and drought stress damage.

3. Stop mowing your lawns like you’re trying to maintain a golf course green.

Mowing lawn during the summer months is the number one cause of summer stress and turf diseases which can cause irreparable damage to lawns.

4. Apply low nitrogen, high organic matter fertilizers and soil inoculates.

Feeding the turf with the right amount of the right nutrients makes sure it stays healthy all season. This one recommendation alone may determine the difference between failure and success.

5. Build your success around the right products and programs.

Introduce a year-round fertilization program into your existing business will put more jingle in your pocket and create more free time this summer to enjoy the fruits of your labor. We recommend a program of Hudson Valley Natural and Jackpot fertilizers.

6. Grass seed selection can be a game changer if you do your homework.

Choosing the best grass seed can be daunting. Take the time research and look for varieties in blends that rank the highest in multiple categories.

Summer Fertilization

It’s important that you use the right product with the right amount of active ingredient during the summer. Cool season/transitional zones have different needs than warm season turf.

Cool Season & Transitional Zone Turf

Cool season and transitional zone turf does not respond well to high doses of nitrogen in the heat of the summer. For cool season or transitional zone turf, apply a low analysis, slow-release form of nitrogen using a fertilizer like Jackpot from Hudson Valley Natural. Jackpot has a high organic matter content and will bump up your potassium. This will slow top-growth and boost the immune system of the turf to reduce instances of turf diseases and heat stress. When using a fertilizer, make sure it contains sulfate of potash instead of muriate of potash. This will reduce salt buildup in the soil, which eliminates the threat of tip burn and aids in arresting the spread of turf diseases.

Warm Season Turf

For warm season turf like Bermuda grass, you will need to implement a heavier feeding schedule to maintain health and color. Just go easy, Bermuda grass is a prime target for turf diseases, too much quickly available nitrogen can trigger diseases and increase the risk of tip and leaf burning. Other warm season turf such as zoysia, St Augustine, and centipede grass can be maintained during the heat of summer in much the same way as cool season turf.

Central can help you create a custom program to fit your cool season, transitional zone turf, or warm season turf needs and eliminate the guesswork. The right program can help you save money on material, labor, and equipment/trucks.

Proper Irrigation

Proper irrigation will reduce the risk of turf disease while saving you money, time and headache by watering turf less often for longer periods. Know when to irrigate the turf and how much precipitation is required. Water deep (1 inch of precipitation twice a week during hot dry conditions.) Water in the early morning to avoid evaporation and creating optimal conditions for turf disease to develop.

Irrigation needs will differ depending on the region, the turf type, the season, the amount of rainfall, day and night time temperatures and soil structure. Monitor rainfall with an inexpensive rain gauge and do a water audit of the irrigation system to dial in on your overall irrigation schedule.

Mow Turf High

Mow turf as high as possible, especially during hot dry summer conditions. This goes for all turf types. Even warm season turf such as Bermuda, Zoysia, and Centipede grass can be mowed higher and still retain that well maintained appearance.

By mowing tall and maintaining density, you will choke out weeds as they germinate by limiting sunlight and increasing competition for water and nutrients. Mowing puts stress on the turf. Stress recovery requires the plant to burn up its stored energy from its roots. Mowing too short will accelerate the burning of energy stores, making the plant weak and susceptible to diseases and insect pests, lowering the plants tolerance to extreme weather conditions. Weekly mowing is adequate in the summer. The right fertilizer and program can reduce surge growth and reduce optimal conditions for turf diseases.

Organic-Based Fertilizers, Microbial Soil Inoculates, and Organic Compost

Summer applications of organic matter and soluble, microbial soil inoculates will help prevent and control turf diseases on any turf type. Additionally, incorporating organic matter into your existing turf management program will help reduce the need for fungicides and eliminate thatch buildup.

The Right Products & Programs

Products with a balanced carbon-to-nitrogen ratio are specifically formulated to increase efficiency, protect against turf diseases, reduce water requirements, and reduce thatch buildup that harbor surface feeding summer insects.

For summer, we recommend a Hudson Valley Natural program using Jackpot fertilizers products, 7-0-5 Jackpot Flex and 10-0-15 Jackpot Defender. With low nitrogen, high potassium, and high organic matter content these fertilizers will provide the ultimate in turf disease protection. For a three-prong approach, apply Jackpot Flex 7-0-5 with Imida/Lambda to attack grubs, chinch bugs, and turf diseases. A single application with multiple solutions to save money, labor, and time.

Microbial Soil Inoculants

Microbial soil inoculants can help suppress turf grass diseases, while promoting overall health of the plant during the summer. Check out Hudson Valley Natural’s BioMD soluble microbial soil inoculate to knockout turf diseases and summer stress.

Grass seed varieties are an ever-changing landscape

Know your climate zone and region when researching grass seed. Refer to the latest NTEP field trial results and base your selection on quality and performance rather than cost. Select seed blends with multiple cultivars that rank the highest in color, density, heat and drought tolerance and disease and insect resistance. Look for endophyte enhanced varieties for optimal disease and inset suppression and control.


Finally, contact your local Central rep to learn more about the right program, products, or newest seed varieties to make sure your customers properties look good all summer long.


About John Huber

John is in his thirty sixth year in the Green Industry. John began his career as a greenhouse grower and spent 15 years guiding his own turf management company in southeastern Virginia using cutting-edge organic based technologies.

For the past 18 years, John has been involved in fertilizer manufacturing, formulation, supply chain and logistics, helping thousands of professional turf companies across the United States grow their business, increase the quality of their services and streamline their programs for optimal efficiency.