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PAL Question

I've researched "fairy ring in the grass" online, but haven't come up with any surefire solutions. Ours is about 3 feet across, with scant grass in the center. Digging it out and replacing grass or hiring a professional to apply toxic fumigants seemed logical. Any other suggestions to try?

Answer

I think physical removal is certainly a better option than applying toxic fumigants, though it requires some work. Washington State University Extension offers these recommendations for fairy ring in lawns:
Several species of fungi can cause fairy rings in lawns. The common symptoms may include a ring of dead grass with darker green grass and mushrooms on the inside and/or the outside of the ring, circular patches of darker green grass, or rings of mushrooms or puffballs appearing with or without other symptoms. Mushroom rings most commonly appear in the spring or fall when adequate moisture is present. The type of fairy ring which causes dead rings is the most damaging. The fungus feeds on decomposing organic matter such as dead tree roots and undecomposed bark mulch in the soil and makes water penetration difficult. Fairy rings are more severe on sandy soil with low fertility. Grass inside the rings may be weakened or killed and replaced with weeds and weedy grasses. Fairy rings may disappear suddenly.
Select Non-chemical Management Options as Your First Choice!!

  • After rewetting, reseed affected areas and fertilize and water properly.
  • Provide proper culture, including deep, infrequent waterings and adequate fertilization.
  • Rake and loosen soil in affected areas. Aerate soil and water the area deeply. A grass-type wetting agent can be used to help rewet the soil.
  • Remove the sod, mix soil in affected areas in the upper 6 to 8 inches of soil with a rototiller, and reseed or put new sod in the area.

Pesticides: None recommended (Revision Date:4/20/2010)

In his book, The Chemical-Free Lawn (Rodale Press, 1989), Warren Schultz says of fairy rings:
"The only sure way to eradicate the mushroom is to dig out the turf and soil to a depth of 2 feet, extending outward at least 1 foot beyond the edge of the circle. It's also possible to slow the fungus by drenching the soil with water to a depth of 2 feet. Some turf experts recommend fertilizing the rest of the lawn heavily to mask the green color of the ring. This practice, however, may encourage other diseases [my note: heavy fertilization contributes to toxic stormwater runoff]. You may be best off learning to live with the disease."

This information from Oregon State University (no longer available online) provides advice on removing fairy rings from lawns:

  • Soak Fairy Ring area daily for a month with water. Punching a number of holes in the area to be soaked will help get the water into the soil. The Fairy Ring area is often dry, hard and difficult to get water into the soil. A thorough aeration in April with a rented machine will make the job easier.
  • Adequate fertilizer will mask the green ring by supplying the entire lawn with extra nitrogen.
  • Renovation of affected area can be accomplished by removing the affected sod and soil. Cut the area 12 inches wider than the outside of the ring. Cut the sod and soil 1-2 inches deep. Remove affected material. Replace with 'clean' soil and replant.

Keywords: Fungi and mushrooms, Lawns and turfgrasses
Date: 2010-04-24

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