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Mr. Smarty Plants - Habiturf installation after Take-All fungus

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Tuesday - January 24, 2012

From: Houston, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Soils, Turf, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Habiturf installation after Take-All fungus
Answered by: Becky Ruppel and Mark Simmons

QUESTION:

Are other soil remedies needed (besides those listed in your Habiturf brochure) to install Habiturf on land which had a St. Augustine lawn which was decimated by take all patch.

ANSWER:

I consulted with Mark Simmons, the Director of the Ecosystem Design Group here at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, who is in charge of the Habiturf development and research and he said Habiturf hasn’t been tested against Take-All fungus, however it is not listed as a host for Take-All fungus.

In general, the soil preparations (e.g. deep tilling and compost) needed for Habiturf will give you a good chance at beating the Take-All root rot.  However, since you likely have spores from the fungus in your soil, treating your soil with a fungicide as suggested by this and this article may prevent re-infestation.  It is also possible to treat your grass with a fungicide if the Take-All reoccurs. 

However, there are several aspects of Habiturf which may allow you to re-establish a lawn without fungicide.  There is evidence that a stable fungal and bacterial soil community will suppress the Take-All fungus and allow the grass to fill in and be maintained fairly easily.  Because of this, it is especially important for you to use really good living compost that has a strong active fungi and bacteria community to minimize the impact of Take-All fungus in the existing soil on new grass. 

Another advantage of Habiturf against Take-All fungus is Habiturf has low water and well draining soil requirements.  Take-All root rot thrives in heavily watered soils, therefore the use of the Habiturf should help because it needs less watering than St. Augustine.  Additionally, the well drained soil needed for Habiturf will help avoid overly moist surface soil conditions that promote Take-All root rot. 

Finally, Habiturf will establish a multi-species grass community. The mix has three native species which have a better chance of establishing a stable green lawn than just St. Augustine by itself.  With the diversity of grasses in the mix there is a chance that one or more native species may be resistant or less affected by Take-All fungus.  As a result, the grass species that is most resistant will fill in any patches of soil that has high levels of Take-All root rot where the others are not able to grow.   

I noticed that you were in Houston, TX and before you install Habiturf you may want to consider reading this Mr. Smarty Plants answered by Nan Hampton and Mark Simmons about Habiturf in Houston. 

 

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