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What Is Red Thread Disease?

Keeping your lawn a vibrant, healthy green all year round is no easy task. You’ll face issues related to the weather and find that pets and children cause uneven wear, but you’ll no doubt be doing your utmost to try and protect the grass that is so vital to a healthy looking garden.

But what if you start to notice patches of your lawn turning a straw-like colour with tinges of red or pink? This mysterious affliction is likely to be red thread disease, and while it may seem like an alarming name, it’s quite common and should be easy enough to treat.

To help you in your battle against red thread disease, we’ve put together this quick guide to detail what the symptoms are, what causes it and how to treat it.


What does red thread disease look like?

There are a variety of diseases that could affect your lawn, so it’s worth getting more familiar with what this particular disease actually looks like when it’s taken hold in your garden. Here are the two most common signs of red thread disease that you can keep an eye out for:

  • Patchy lawn – Usually a pale brown, straw-like colour that looks like your lawn has been bleached. These patches can usually be between 7cm and 30cm in diameter – so quite small – but they can become larger, especially if it begins to spread.
  • Pinkish-red threads – The tell-tale sign that should be easy to spot at the tips of your grass. These are not to be confused with snow mould, which usually comes with small cotton-like structures as well as a change in colour. 


What causes red thread disease?

Red thread disease is actually caused by a fungus. This fungus has a Latin name, Laetisaria fuciformis, but all you really need to know is that it can sit in your soil waiting for the perfect conditions before showing itself. The conditions it seems to thrive in most are when things are slightly warmer and wetter, which is why you’ll typically see signs of it in autumn or in a particularly wet summer. 

Somewhere between 15℃ and 25℃ are the ideal conditions for it, and while it’s more common in lawns that are a little undernourished, it has been known to affect even the most healthy of lawns.

There is obviously very little that you can do about the weather itself, but if you can keep your lawn well drained and well ventilated, then you’ll deprive it of the constant moist conditions. Scarifying your lawn – something we’ve written about before – is another good way of removing your top thatch layer where the disease lives.


How do I get rid of red thread disease?

If red thread disease has already taken hold of your grass then don’t panic. There are some simple ways you can try to get rid of it. 

The first thing to try is simply keeping your lawn healthy and well fed, as this can often see the grass recover by itself, outgrowing the fungus. However, if it has spread further than a few small patches, you may need to take one of the two following actions:

  • Add nitrogen (sulphate ammonia) to your lawn – This is what your lawn tends to be lacking if the fungal disease has taken root. You should not do this after August, as this could then encourage snow mould. Nitrogen, combined with scarifying, could restore the health of your grass.
  • Add a fungicide to your lawn – You can buy a specific fungicide to help control red thread disease, but be careful to follow the instructions closely and do not apply more than twice per year as you may find the fungus develops a resistance to the treatment.

A great way to ensure you have a healthy lawn from the very beginning is to buy quality turf from a trusted supplier. Here at Royce Turf & Irrigation, we supply fresh, high-quality turf, with a variety of options to suit your garden. We work with one of the UK’s leading turf growers, County Turf, which means you’ll get the same high standards for your garden as they produced for the Olympic Stadium and Lord’s Cricket Ground.

Call today and talk to our team about your turf requirements anywhere in Surrey, West Sussex and the South East of England – including Cobham, Guildford and Kingston.

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