The Q&A Archives: What is Fairy Ring?

Question: Can you tell me what Fairy ring is? And is that what all the brown spots are in yards all across this area?

Answer: Fairy rings appear in turf as circles or arcs of dark green grass, often with thin or dead grass just inside or outside the rings. They are caused by any one of more than 60 soil-inhabiting fungi that feed on decaying organic matter. The fungi releases nitrogen which causes the dark green color in the grass, however as the fungi grows it may prevent the soil from absorbing water, which can result in the grass drying out. There is no easy or inexpensive control for this beneficial fungi. The easiest strategy is to mask the effects by fertilizing the whole yard so that the impact of the nitrogen released by the fungi is not so visible. You could remove the sod within two feet of either side of the ring, fumigate the soil, and replant with clean sod. But this seems a drastic, and temporary, solution to a minor issue.

Brown spots in the lawn can be the symptoms of drought stress, dog urine or simply cool season grasses dying out in the heat. When the weather cools, the grass will green up again.

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