Why Does The Grass In The Lawn Have White Tips?

white tip lawn grass

Having a vibrant and well-manicured lawn is the goal of almost every homeowner. However, sometimes despite our best efforts, grass can develop white tips. Why is this you may ask? It is most likely caused by powdery mildew. This is sometimes called “white grass,” as the name would imply. It almost looks like flour was sprinkled on your green grass.

While this disease is not necessarily harmful to your grass, it will make your lawn look unhealthy. So, how do you solve this crisis? First and foremost, you need to confirm your lawn indeed has powdery mildew. Let’s take a look at the steps you need to diagnose, treat and prevent powdery mildew grass.

Do I Have Powdery Mildew Grass?

Powdery mildew should look like flour was sprinkled onto your lawn, not a white webbing on top of the grass. That is snow mold. A white coating on the leaf blades is powdery mildew. Powdery mildew begins with light spots and progresses into white patches. The other causes of white grass are damage from drought and damage from lawnmower blades.

However, in most cases, the culprit is powdery mildew. Before you begin any lawn treatment, confirm you indeed have powdery mildew grass.

(If for some reason you don’t have powdery mildew and you either have drought damage or lawn mower damage, the solution will be different. For drought damage, use proper irrigation to prevent excessive drying from a lack of rain. For lawnmower blade damage, make sure to change your blade or purchase a new lawnmower altogether.)

Why Do I Have Powdery Mildew?

The most common area affected by this lawn disease is shaded areas and places with poor air circulation. Powdery mildew is most commonly found around trees, fences and structures such as buildings. This mildew thrives in areas that are dark with a lack of circulated air. Sometimes homeowners detect powdery mildew in early spring all the way through summer. Due to the fact it thrives in cool, humid and shaded areas of your property, these conditions can help breed the disease.

Another reason why your lawn may be susceptible is age. If you have bermudagrass, Kentucky bluegrass or fine fescues that are more than 20 years old, powdery mildew can be a challenge. The older your lawn is, the more susceptible it is to this disease. Luckily, the disease is not super invasive and will only spread to other areas if you mow over the patches of mildew.

How To Treat Powdery Mildew

Naturally Treating the Mildew

Treating powdery mildew is a relatively simple process. First and foremost, you need to identify shaded areas and check if the grass is being properly drained. A simple walk around your yard will allow you to identify the affected patches. While fertilizer and water are essential for your lawn’s health, too much can cause a problem. With too much water and fertilizer, powdery mildew will begin to spread.

A great solution is to cut down low-hanging branches that are preventing your lawn from sunlight exposure. This includes trimming shrubs, trees and removing anything preventing sunlight exposure. Furthermore, removing an entire tree may be needed to solve the issue.

Increasing airflow and circulation in the areas of your lawn with shade will help eliminate powdery mildew. Another method is to stop using nitrogen fertilizer altogether, or significantly cut back, as this encourages mildew growth. You can also try to overseed the grass on your lawn presently with a shade grass blend that is formulated to be shade tolerant.

If you water your lawn in the evening, stop this right away and only water during the early morning. If the grass doesn’t have enough time to dry before it’s dark out, the existing mildew will exacerbate. You should water deeply, but infrequently. By watering in the early morning hours such as 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., you will reduce the risk of powdery mildew growing and spreading.

These methods are natural and do not use chemicals. However, if powdery mildew does not go away after increasing natural sunlight, reducing moisture and increasing circulation, other measures are needed.

Treating the Mildew with Fungicides

Fungicides that you spray on your lawn can be found at local hardware stores and garden supply stores. The best option is to use sulfur-containing fungicides that are organic. In fact, this can be used as a preventive measure and a treatment.

How to Prevent Powdery Mildew

As mentioned previously, there are many practical tips that can treat and stop mildew from occurring at the same time. This includes watering your lawn in the morning, increasing air circulation, removing large branches/trees and reducing the amount of water/fertilizer.

Another strategy for preventing powdery mildew is done during the reseeding process. When reseeding your lawn, make sure to use powdery mildew-resistant grass. This includes varieties such as turf-type tall fescues, improved fine fescues, shade-tolerant Kentucky bluegrass and fine-textured perennial ryegrass.

Grass grows best in open sunlight with lots of natural light and circulated air. If you are not able to grow grass well in a particular area of your lawn, cover it with mulch instead. Using mulch to cover a portion of your lawn rather than growing grass in a problematic area is a wise decision. An example of this would be laying mulch under a tree that has lots of shade. You can even decorate with shade plants and garden seating.

If you allow the grass in the shaded areas to grow slightly longer than the rest of the lawn, this can also help. Wait until the blades of grass are 3 inches or 7.5 cm before you mow them.

Regardless of which method you choose to treat powdery mildew grass, it is important to be proactive with your lawn and address any spots as soon as you notice them. The goal is to keep your grass as healthy as possible and reduce the risk of spreading lawn diseases such as mildews and funguses.