If larger, unsightly areas form in the lawn, then it may be witch rings, which are caused by a fungus. Not every garden owner is already familiar with these diseases. The rings destroy the appearance of the lawn and the fungal spores can multiply throughout the garden if they are not controlled. However, the infestation can be counteracted with appropriate measures. Thus, fungicides or a removal of the soil can be used against the fungus, but the most sensible is always prevention.
Recognizing witch rings
If, over time, circular, unsightly, yellowish spots form on a piece of turf, which can be up to several meters in circumference, then the gardener speaks of witch rings. This is a fungal disease that must be controlled as soon as possible so that the fungus does not spread throughout the garden by its spores, which are carried by the wind, and, in the worst case, also attack a kitchen garden or fruit trees. The witch rings have a very specific appearance, by which the fungal disease can be quickly recognized even by an inexperienced amateur gardener:
- ring-shaped discolorations form in the lawn
- these consist of dead grass blades
- often small fungi grow on the lawn in the form of a circle
- often these rings are separated from the rest of the lawn by dark grasses
- these grow particularly well because they feed on the fungi
- the formed circles result from the fact that fungi spread from their infection site evenly to all sides
Tip: If such circular rings are seen on the lawn, immediate action should be taken to prevent them from enlarging and spreading further.
Causes and prevention
The cause of witch rings appearing in lawns is often due to excessively dense, impermeable soil and moisture. A lack of nutrients can also promote the appearance of fungi in the garden. Therefore, prevention of these causes in the first place is the best remedy for the witch rings:
- helps to provide the lawn with enough oxygen and destroy fungi in advance
- ideally scarify twice a year, in spring and in autumn
- always keep the soil loose
- pierce the soil with a garden fork or rake
- sand filled into these holes ensures water permeability
- fertilize the lawn more often during the year
- in places that receive little or no sun, make sure that the lawn does not remain too moist
- especially under trees planted on a lawn fungus quickly forms
- do not leave grass cuttings lying around but remove them completely after mowing
- if there are matted areas, remove them and possibly sow a new lawn in the same place.
Tip: There are already lawn mowers with built-in scarifier, so that both jobs can be done in one. Also, the collection basket should always be used for the lawn clippings so that they do not remain on the freshly mowed lawn and thus provide a good breeding ground for the fungus.
Control by removal
If the witch rings are to be dealt with biological means and gently, it is advisable to work carefully. If small fungi, the fruiting bodies, are already showing, they must be removed so that no spores are left behind. Therefore should
- when removing the fruiting bodies should always be worked with disposable gloves. Further, the following procedure should be followed:
- Dispose of gloves directly with in a bag after removing all mushrooms.
- also put the fruiting bodies themselves directly into a prepared, tight plastic bag when removing them
- provide this directly at the workplace
- in this way avoid long walks with the mushrooms in your hand
- Tie the bag tightly at the end and dispose of it in the household waste.
- once all traces are removed, loosen the soil well, fertilize and sow new grass.
- do not run the lawn mower over the affected areas
- this will spread the fungal spores over the entire lawn area
Tip: Never put removed grass, fungi or other plant residues from an infested lawn into the compost, but dispose of them well sealed in the household waste. Otherwise, the fungi can spread throughout the entire garden again the next time you fertilize with compost.
Control with fungicides
If supporting means from the trade are to fight the witch rings in the lawn, then a fungicide must be applied here extensively. It is good if the affected areas are prepared beforehand, as described in the point “Control by removal”. After that, the antifungal agent can be applied to the entire lawn. Always pay attention to the manufacturer’s instructions on the agent and proceed as follows:
Wear protective clothing, long sleeves and pants, so that the skin does not come into contact with the agent.
wear garden gloves, possibly a painter’s mask, so that the poison is not inhaled
work only on calm days
do not apply the agent in the blazing sun
usually fungicides have to be applied more often to kill the fungi completely
Tip: Especially if the infested lawn is located near a kitchen garden, the fungicides should only be used very carefully, because they not only act against the fungus in the lawn, they can also be dangerous to the groundwater and thus also to the neighboring kitchen garden.
When nothing helps at all
If the fungicides do not help at all and the fungus continues to spread unhindered, the only remaining measure is soil removal. This is of course very costly, especially for a large lawn, and should therefore only be carried out in an extreme emergency. Here, the infested area is generously removed with a spade. It is essential to ensure that the removed soil is disposed of immediately and not used elsewhere in the garden. At least 15 cm should be removed to ensure that there is no more infested soil. New, fresh soil is poured into the resulting holes and new sod is sown, or if you want it to go faster, planted.
Tip: Mix the soil to be filled in directly with sand and fertilizer, so the soil is more permeable and well prepared for the new lawn.
It will be difficult, once fungi have settled in the lawn, to remove them completely. Therefore, it is better to take good care of the lawn from the beginning and thus not give witch rings a chance in the first place. If it does happen, then witch rings in the lawn can be combated by removing the spots or using fungicides. Because the annoying witch rings in the lawn is not just a blemish but a disease that should be avoided or fought at all costs, otherwise it could spread throughout the garden.