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Black lawns in Maine caused by fungus and weather

UMaine Cooperative Extension received dozens of calls from concerned homeowners
Published: Jul. 16, 2020 at 9:11 AM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) -Is your lawn turning a shade of black?

If so, it could be a fungal disease.

Take a look at these photos to see if they look familiar.

UMaine Cooperative Extension receiving dozens of phone calls from concerned homeowners
UMaine Cooperative Extension receiving dozens of phone calls from concerned homeowners(UMaine Cooperative Extension)

UMaine Cooperative Extension says homeowners all across New England are noticing this discoloration in their lawns. It’s caused by the pathogen known as Cladosporium sp. The mold occurs when grass becomes stressed, such as times of sparse rainfall.

Homeowners in Maine and all over New England reporting the discoloration in their grass
Homeowners in Maine and all over New England reporting the discoloration in their grass(WABI TV)

The fungus actually stems from the drought conditions we saw earlier this summer. The parasite feasts on grass already stressed out by the lack of rain.

“I talked to a few folks, some landscapers that said in their 30 years of owning a landscaping company, they’ve never seen it before,” says University of Maine Cooperative Extension plant pathologist Alicyn Smart. So I think just due to the long, prolonged drought that we’ve had followed by the really heavy rainfall which can start fungal pathogens to start growing, we just kind of hit the lottery.”

Fungus feasts on grass already stressed from lack of rain
Fungus feasts on grass already stressed from lack of rain(UMaine Cooperative Extension)

Smart say there’s no need to apply a fungicide, and in some cases, the lawns just grew back on their own.

Instead, she suggests reseeding your lawn in late August or September and make sure not to under or over water it.

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