The Q&A Archives: brown dust in lawn

Question: I have what I think may be called root rust. Walking through lawn and I end up with brown particles on my shoes? What causes this? What can I do to get rid of it? Thank You!

Answer: The fungus that causes rust in lawns will not spread to other plants in your landscape. Rust shows up as orange lesions or spots on the leaf blades and a rust-colored powder that you can rub off with your fingers. Affected areas appear noticeably yellowed at first glance. Initial outbreaks usually occur in shaded areas. Rust is most problematic on slow-growing under-fertilized turf. Therefore, the best way to control rust is through your standard September fertilization of 1.0 lbs N/1000 sq. ft. It?s best to use a fertilizer with 30-50% slow release nitrogen such as sulfur or polymer-coated urea, urea formaldehyde, or natural organics. This fertilizer will be most effective if the turf is irrigated regularly or at a minimum, irrigated with a minimum of 0.5? of water after application to wash the fertilizer off the leaves and to the soil. Regular mowing will help break the disease cycle and help the turf outgrow the disease. If rust is a perennial problem on your turf, consider increasing the annual nitrogen applied to your lawn.

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