Fairy Ring Fungus

In the landscapes of Utah, the emergence of fairy ring fungus in Kentucky bluegrass has been a topic of concern among landscapers, gardeners, and turfgrass enthusiasts. These naturally occurring circles of lush or discolored grass, associated with the presence of fairy ring fungus, have both fascinated and bewildered observers. The unique patterns and impacts on the health of bluegrass lawns have sparked interest in understanding and managing this phenomenon.

Fairy rings are a natural occurrence caused by certain types of fungi present in the soil. In the case of Kentucky bluegrass, this often involves fungi from the Basidiomycetes class, such as Marasmius oreades. These fungi develop an underground mycelium, forming concentric rings that can extend over several feet in diameter. Their impact can vary from rings of flourishing grass to circles of stunted or discolored turf.

In Utah, where Kentucky bluegrass is a common turfgrass species due to its adaptability to the climate, the appearance of fairy rings presents both visual and agronomic challenges. While the rings themselves might appear as aesthetically pleasing circles of vibrant grass, their presence often disrupts the uniformity of lawns, posing a challenge to landscapers aiming for pristine, homogeneous green spaces. Additionally, the underground mycelium’s activity can interfere with water and nutrient absorption, resulting in patches of grass with different growth rates or even causing sections of the lawn to die off. This impact on the health and uniformity of the grass demands attention and management strategies.

Dealing with fairy ring fungus in Kentucky bluegrass requires a multifaceted approach. Several methods are employed to mitigate its impact:

1. Aeration: Proper aeration techniques help improve soil drainage, which can reduce the severity of fairy rings.

2. Watering and Fertilization: Ensuring even water distribution and balanced fertilization can aid in reducing the visibility of the rings by promoting overall grass health.

3. Digging out infected soil and replacing it can work. You have to dig pretty deep and remove a lot of soil though. Something I was told about but have not tried yet is to dig out two infected sections of soil and mix them together, the effects of mixing the soil can eradicate the fungus in those areas.