Found in lawns, fairy rings are circular or arc shaped rings of dead grass which can be easily identified by the very green grass on the inside and outside of the ring. Depending on the time of year, crops of toadstools can be found in the ring of dead grass. Fairy rings can grow up to a metre in diameter, and can often survive for many years. So what is the best way to deal with fairy rings? Find out with advice from Paynes Turf.
Fairy rings can grow in any variety of turf as long as there is turf to grow in. Fairy rings are caused by groups of fungi (already present in soil), and often develop in the late summer or early autumn when groups of toadstools appear in a ring or arc shape. There are thousands of different fungi that can cause fairy rings – the most common type causes the turf in the ring to grow very dark green in colour. Other types cause the turf to turn yellow, some red, and others will simply cause the grass to wilt and die. The fungi are spread by airborne spores from the toadstools, which form colonies within the roots of the turf. Fairy rings develop when the fungi breaks down decaying plant material, such as thatch, then feeds on the nutrients that are produced to grow taller and darker in colour.
Sometimes fairy rings can resist watering and will effectively become waterproof. As a result, the grass turns very dry, even though the grass on the inside and outside of the ring appears green and healthy. The grass in the fairy ring eventually wilts and dies.
How to treat fairy rings
To reduce the potential of fairy rings occurring in the first place, always buy top quality turf when laying a new lawn and ensure that the ground is prepared correctly before laying the turf. See how to properly prepare the ground under turf here.
If you already have fairy rings in your lawn, you can help alleviate the problem in several ways. Firstly, fertilise the lawn to reduce the appearance of the fairy ring. Secondly, aerate the ring so water can penetrate down to the roots of the grass, thus eliminating drought. It’s also very beneficial to rake a top dressing on the lawn once or twice a year to provide essential nutrients to allow the grass to grow healthily.
There are no fungicides on the market to eliminate fairy rings, but it is possible to eradicate them by digging down to a depth of around 30cm and removing all the turf and soil from the inside the ring, and to at least 30cm outside of the ring. However, this method is a difficult and lengthy process, and is not recommended. Our recommendation is to fertilise, aerate, and topdress the lawn, and to carry out a regular lawn care maintenance programme.