Dark Green Rings in a St Augustine Grass Lawn are called Fairy Rings

PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA

By Rick Orr 09/17/2014
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Fairy Ring in a St Augustine lawn
Fairy RIng in a St Augustine lawn

What are the Dark Green Rings Growing in My Lawn?

After warm nights of heavy rains and high humidly, it is not uncommon to have dark green rings appear in the lawn. Often the outer edge will have large white mushrooms appear in the morning. These dark green rings are commonly referred to as a fairy ring.

The occurrence of these rings is associated with folklore and superstition in nearly every culture where the rings occur. It is the Celtic folklore of the ring that tells tales of fairies dancing – in a circle of course – where we derive the name “Fairy Rings”.

​Fairy Ring in St Augustine

Fairy Rings are a community of fungi that are beneficial - they break down organic matter (composting) into nutrients for the turf. The community of fungi usually starts from a single point, usually a piece of nutrient-rich organic matter buried in the soil. Then the community of fungi radiates outward in a uniform growth rate to form an expanding circle. The rings will continue to grow until they run into a physical barrier. One fairy ring in France is nearly ½ mile in diameter.

Anatomy of a Fairy Ring

There are three distinct areas in a fairy ring. The outer ring just beyond the dark green ring is the area where the fungi are most active and usually has mushrooms. Just inside the outer ring of mushrooms is a circle of green grass. This is caused by a release of nutrients from the fungi’s composting organic matter.  Just inside the green ring is often weak or stressed grass where the fungi have died. The dead fungi cause the soil to be droughty and cause water stress. In the center is normal looking grass where all has returned to normal conditions sans the fungi, extra nutrients, and dead fungi.

Most Frequent Complaint is Mushrooms

Most of the calls I receive about Fairy Rings are from customers complaining of large white mushrooms or green circles in the lawn. In Pinellas County, the fairy rings are a cosmetic problem and rarely cause permanent damage to a lawn.

What to Do About Fairy Rings

​There is no cure for Fairy Rings – at least not economically. The fungi are soil-borne and exist everywhere. The food source is organic matter which is part of the turf ecosystem. Only in weak, un-irrigated lawns would Fairy Rings “kill” turf.

The best management practices for Fairy Ring in St Augustine grass are:

  • Keep the soil moisture and nutrient levels medium to medium-high
  • Frequent mowing maintaining a canopy height of 4” or above.

These two simple management practices will lessen or rid the visual impact of the fairy ring – the green ring and mushrooms.

Aerating can Help

The physical problems are a little more difficult to deal with and you may still see weak thin grass in the interior of the Fairy Ring. If the Fairy Ring causes damage, aerating with a pitchfork or spading fork will break up the mycelia mat and allow for the St Augustine to recover. Regardless, the St Augustine should survive or completely recover especially if the soil moisture and fertility levels are kept at medium to medium-high. In every instance, the Fairy Ring will grow beyond your lawn and out of sight.

Rick Orr Owner-Operator APL Pest Control/Creator of ILOVETURF.COM
Rick
Orr
APL Pest Control

Rick Orr is the creator of Iloveturf.com, Owner/Operator of APL Pest Control and a graduate from VA Tech in Agronomy (Turf Ecology).  

Since 1980, Rick worked in the green industry, mostly with golf courses, resorts and large communities. Rick worked as a Golf Course Superintendent of Fripp Island Resort, agronomist for Seaside, FL and the spray tech for Vinoy Golf Course. Rick has been certified as an arborist, landscape and irrigation contractor and adjunct professor for Environmental Horticulture (SPC) in Pinellas County.  

Home Pest Control came naturally. Entomology (bug science) was part of agronomy studies. Nearly every indoor pest problem starts outdoors. Crossing over to home pest control from lawn spraying was a natural process – the technology, methods and materials used for home pest control are modifications of the ones used for lawn spraying. 

The results of that work is a one of the top rated pest control companies in Pinellas County – APL Pest Control. APL Pest Control is a family owned business serving residential and commercial properties in Pinellas County, FL. 

Free Price Quote for Home Pest Control and/or Lawn Spraying CLICK HERE

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Speaking Engagements - Does it seem like you are only hearing one side of water restrictions, fertilizer bans, plant restrictions, and many other urban landscape hot topics? Rick Orr is available for speaking engagements for your HOA, Community or Professional Association or Garden Club about a variety of subjects. To contact Rick you can find him on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Instagram for booking information.