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Too much rain can cause diseased lawns
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Too much rain is causing problems for homeowners' lawns and gardens with a major problem being lawn disease. - photo by Scott Rogers

With frequent, heavy rains, taking care of lawns and gardens gets increasingly difficult. There isn’t a lot homeowners can do in the moment. It’s more about what they do before the rain and after the rain. 

Nathan Eason, extension coordinator and agriculture agent at the University of Georgia White County Extension Office, said there are a few things that happen when heavy rain comes along in such a short time. With so many consecutive days of heavy rain, he said mushrooms start to pop up throughout yards.

“Mushrooms are nothing to be scared of,” Eason said. “They’re not going to spread, necessarily. A lot of times, you can improve infiltration in the yard through aeration or dethatching your lawn.” 

That will help the lawn dry out a little quicker, which should stop new mushrooms and fungi from growing.

The major problem, though, is lawn disease. He said homeowners should look out for random brown spots or discoloration in the lawn after lots of rain, especially if those spots start to spread. He said the best way to keep track of that is to “get a little metal flag and mark the edge of it, and in a few days, if it’s spread past that, you know you’ve got something going on there.”

One of the contributors to lawn disease is too much water combined with fertilizer. Homeowners may have put out fertilizer before the rain came, or could have done it between showers, hoping the rain would help it grow faster. But Eason said that’s exactly 

the problem.

“If we’re pushing that grass too much from a fertility standpoint and we’re making it grow too fast, then we can actually be weakening its immune system,” Eason said.

He said trying to make grass grow faster than it should puts too much pressure on it and could cause lawn disease. And with the amount of rain Hall County has seen over the past couple of weeks, that’s hard to control, so homeowners need to be careful with fertilizer when the forecast calls for rain.

The best thing for homeowners to do if they notice lawn disease is to call their local extension office, Eason said. The extension office doesn’t like to mention specific trade names, but they’ll talk about the active ingredients that are needed and let the homeowner decide on a helpful product when they go to the store.

And when it comes to erosion, another big problem with heavy rain, Eason said laying mulch is one of the most important things homeowners can do for their plants before the rain ever starts.

“If you just have bare soil, a layer of mulch or a barrier between that soil and plant will reduce soil splashing on the plant,” Eason said. “And that’s 90 percent of where our disease comes from.”

When it comes down to it, Eason said homeowners can let nature take its course if they want. They just have to be willing to deal with whatever it throws at them. 

He said when events like the recent rains come, communities learn a lot they didn’t know before.

“We want to work with nature, not against it,” Eason said.