Q What is lawn rust?
A Lawn rust is related to the many other rust diseases that affect garden plants, but the particular organisms involved (species of puccinia and uromyces) only affect grasses.
Caption: Rust rarely kills grass but it does look unsightly
Q How do I recognise lawn rust?
A Affected turf takes on an orange or yellow tinge and powdery, orange pustules can be seen bursting through the leaf blades. These produce such large quantities of spores that they can turn shoes or pets’ feet orange.
Q Could I mistake lawn rust for anything else?
A Dead patches in lawns can have many causes. In the early stages, when it just causes leaf yellowing, rust is not very distinctive, but diagnosis is easy once the spores appear.
Q What damage does lawn rust do?
A Rust rarely kills the grass, it just looks unsightly.
Q What is the life cycle of lawn rust?
A In autumn the fungus produces black, cold-tolerant spores that remain in the thatch over winter and spring then germinate to infect the grass when conditions are right. The fungus then produces orange spores that can be carried in the air, by water, or on shoes and equipment to spread the infection.
Q When do lawn-rust attacks occur?
A Rust generally appears in late summer or autumn, especially after a period of dry weather, and when warm days are followed by cold nights. The most susceptible turf species are rye grasses and smooth-stalked meadow grass, especially if they are under stress from lack of nutrients, dry soil or shade.
Q How do I control an attack of lawn rust?
A There is no direct chemical treatment available to gardeners. As a short-term solution, feeding the lawn with a fertiliser containing potassium as well as nitrogen should toughen up the grass and help it to recover.
Q How do I prevent lawn rust in future?
A Well-maintained grass should not succumb to rust.