How To Identify And Treat Lawn Rust (Fungus On Grass)

lawn rust

Do you have orange grass? Does your lawn look like it has a disease? Maybe it seems to be coated with orange-red or yellowish dust?

Or perhaps your boots turn orange when mowing the lawn?

Well it is likely that you have lawn rust (puccinia spp.), which is a type of lawn fungus.

But don’t panic just yet… it is quite treatable and your lawn will likely recover from lawn rust. Let’s take a look at how to properly identify this fungus, and what you can do about it if your grass has it.

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What is Lawn Rust and what Causes it?

Lawn rust is a fungal disease that affects turf grasses. It is usually prevalent in later summer/early fall when the growth of the lawn is quite slow.

Why is it called lawn rust? Well – because it has a rusty appearance – and it gets on everything it touches.

You are most likely to have a rust problem from spring to fall, when your grass is damp for much of the time.

Humid weather and lack of nitrogen can also be factors that lead to the lawn rust growing.

Identification of Rust Fungus on Grass

Identification of rust fungus on grass is quite easy and it just requires looking for a few easy to spot signs.

Look for these signs:

  • In the early stages, lawn rust looks like small, yellow dots on the grass blades
  • Once it is more established, grass blades become coated in an orange-red to yellow/brown dust or spores that resembles rust
  • You will be able to rub the dust off with your fingers
  • You may notice orange or yellow powder/discoloration of your shoes after walking on the affected grass
  • If the lawn rust has gone untreated for some time then you may notice raised pustules
  • Affected patches of lawn will generally become thin and weak

Images of Lawn Rust

Click the images below to see the full-size version.

Problems Caused By Lawn Fungus

Overall, grass rust fungus is not a huge problem so don’t stress if you have noticed it on your lawn.

Some of the minor problems that rust fungus does cause includes:

  • Reduces the ability for the grass to photosynthesize
  • Lawn will look less healthy
  • Grass growth will slow down
  • While rust will not kill your lawn, it will eventually cause it to become weak and less resilient to weather and physical damage
  • The dust will cling to shoes, clothes and garden equipment and may stain

How to Treat Lawn Rust

Usually, lawn rust can be treated without the need to resort to chemicals or fungicides.

So first, let’s take a look at the non-chemical (natural remedies) ways to treat rust fungus on your lawns:

Fertilize

Fertilizing your lawn with a nitrogen fertilizer such as Milorganite is a good way to treat lawn fungus, but you need to make sure you do it at the right time.

Correct fertilizing gives your lawn everything it needs to grow through the problem and reduce the likelihood of it returning.

Once you have your lawn rust problem under control, I highly recommend a customized fertilizer solution such as that provided by Sunday Lawn Care.

Water In The Mornings

Watering your lawn in the mornings gives it time to dry out during the day, which will help discourage further lawn rust growth.

Watering regularly also assists your grass to grow quickly, thus discouraging further lawn fungus growth.

Mow Regularly

Mowing the lawn regularly cuts off the top layer of lawn rust fungus and allows the remaining grass to get proper air circulation – reducing the amount of time the grass stays wet for which in turn reduces the amount of lawn rust that can grow.

It is also recommended to always use a  mower with a grass catcher so that the leftover clippings aren’t left on the grass, negating the effects of mowing. If you don’t have a mower with a grass catcher, then rake up the clippings and dispose of them.

Also, ensure that your lawnmower is washed down properly after mowing to remove any leftover rust dust – this will stop spreading the fungus to other areas of your lawn.

Looking for a good lawn mower? Check out our guide on the best cordless mowers.

Using Fungicides To Kill Lawn Rust

Using Fungicides to kill lawn rust is usually not necessary, and due to the fact that most fungicides contain toxic chemicals, we recommend using this method only when the previous three have failed.

If you do need to use a fungicide to control a particularly bad outbreak of lawn fungus, then you can use something like Scotts Lawn Fungus Control.

Be sure to follow the instructions of your chosen fungicide carefully.

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How To Prevent Lawn Rust

A healthy lawn is key to preventing lawn rust. A thick, fast-growing lawn will be able to fight off any possible outbreak of lawn rust before it can take hold.

You can ensure your grass is healthy and prevent lawn rust by:

  • Fertilizing on a proper schedule
  • Mow your lawn regularly
  • Water it regularly
  • Aerate it at least once a year
  • Minimize shade on your lawn if possible
  • Ensure drainage is good – grass that is damp all the time is more susceptible to lawn rust

Lawn Rust FAQ

Will Lawn Rust Go Away On Its own?

It is possible that lawn rust will go away on its own if you fertilize your lawn correctly. You will want to use a nitrogen fertilizer. This allows the lawn to “grow out” of the fungus and solve the problem.

Is lawn rust harmful to pets?

No, lawn rust is not harmful to pets. You may however find that they get a bit of an orange tinge to their coat!
Dogs can safely play on a lawn that is afflicted by lawn rust.

Is Lawn rust harmful to humans?

No, grass rust is not at all harmful to humans.

About The Author

Aaron is the founder of and Essential Home and Garden. He likes to spend his spare time with his family, and doing DIY projects in the home and garden.

2 thoughts on “How To Identify And Treat Lawn Rust (Fungus On Grass)”

  1. I have this red fungus on my lawn. I will be aerating and overseeing the lawn. What should I use to feed the lawn after the overseeing. Should I use a fungicide or a turf builder with nitrogen.

    Reply
  2. I think we might have that but this website made me know that very helpful. Also my dog has been losing fur by his eye we think its from this irritating his skin so we took him to the vet and they gave him stuff for it just letting you know.

    Reply

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