What Is Dollar Spot?

Rated 4.8 Across 20+ Reviews


A well-maintained lawn is a desirable aesthetic component of many residential properties. However, fungal diseases such as dollar spot can disrupt this aesthetic equilibrium. This article explores the identification, treatment, and preventative measures for dollar spot. This prevalent turfgrass disease can significantly affect cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue, and perennial ryegrass.

Identifying Dollar Spot

Dollar spot primarily affects cool-season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass, fine fescue, and perennial ryegrass. Recognizing its distinctive symptoms is crucial for timely intervention.

Symptoms & Appearance:

  • Dollar spot presents as small, circular patches in the lawn, akin to the size of a silver dollar or a few inches in diameter. These patches may coalesce, forming larger affected areas.
  • Grass within the patches exhibits a straw-colored or bleached appearance, often with well-defined margins and a reddish-brown border, particularly along the periphery.
  • Notably, grass blades develop lesions characterized by small, tan, or white spots, often accompanied by a reddish-brown border.

Environmental Factors:

Dollar spot symptoms are more pronounced in the morning when dew is present on the grass, gradually diminishing as the day progresses and the grass dries.

Dollar Spot Fungus Life Cycle

Dollar spot infection is most prevalent during spring and autumn due to environmental conditions favoring fungal growth. Becoming familiar with the life cycle of this pesky disease allows you to treat it correctly and minimize the spread.

  • Spore Dispersal: Wind, water, and human activity facilitate the spread of dollar spot spores.
  • Infection: Favorable conditions, such as extended periods of leaf wetness, allow spore germination and grass leaf infection.
  • Mycelial Growth: Fungal growth within the grass leaf causes lesion development.
  • Sclerotia Production: The fungus produces sclerotia, dormant structures enduring for several years in the soil.
  • Sclerotia Germination: When conditions are favorable, sclerotia germinate and produce new spores, perpetuating the cycle.

Dollar Spot Treatment Strategies

Fortunately, treating dollar spot is both doable and straightforward, though it will take time to get rid of it completely. By incorporating these strategies and practices, you will be rid of this fungal disease in no time.

  • Watering Practices: Early morning watering promotes sufficient daytime drying, reducing moisture that sustains the fungus. Avoid over-watering, as this can facilitate disease transmission.
  • Fertilization: Apply a balanced, slow-release nitrogen fertilizer to promote grass health and resilience without stimulating excessive growth, which can increase susceptibility to dollar spot.
  • Air Circulation: Improve air circulation within the lawn by trimming trees or shrubs that cast shadows and by aerating the lawn to alleviate thatch buildup.
  • Fungicide Application: Consider using fungicides labeled for dollar spot control for severe infections or recurring outbreaks. Always consult a professional or meticulously follow product instructions.
  • Reseeding Bare Patches: Once the disease is controlled, reseed bare patches with healthy, disease-resistant grass seed.
  • Mowing Practices: Raise the mower cutting height to shade the soil and minimize stress on the grass. Mow only when the grass is dry to prevent further disease spread.
  • Lawn Care Practices: Regular lawn maintenance practices such as dethatching, debris removal, and prompt disease intervention are essential for optimal lawn health.

Dollar Spot Prevention Strategies

Prompt identification, effective treatment strategies, and preventative measures are crucial for controlling dollar spot and maintaining a healthy, disease-free lawn.  By implementing these practices, you can ensure a vibrant and aesthetically pleasing outdoor space throughout the year.

  • Routine Lawn Inspections: During your lawn care routine, regularly inspect your lawn to detect and promptly address any signs of dollar spot.
  • Water Management: Avoid overwatering and ensure sufficient daytime drying. Deep and infrequent watering is ideal for disease prevention.
  • Fertilization Program: Adhere to a balanced fertilization program to maintain grass health without stimulating excessive growth.
  • Grass Selection: When seeding or overseeding, select grass varieties with lower susceptibility to dollar spot, such as perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, colonial bentgrass, and zoysia grass.

In conclusion, dollar spot is a fungal disease requiring proactive treatment and prevention measures. By following the strategies in this article, you can keep your lawn disease-free. Be sure to consult with your local lawn care professionals should you have questions or concerns about managing this pesky disease.