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Lawn Disease – Fairy Ring

Fairy Ring Lawn Disease

Fairy rings can show up in lawns, in the same place, year after year after year, and they may get bigger as time goes by.  They can appear as a perfect circle of mushrooms, or just a circle of deep green grass that grows faster than the rest of your grass. You may see a circle within a circle, or a partial arc.

Source: Fairy rings are a bit of a mystery.  Some say they start with the spore of a mushroom.  But mushrooms are the fruit of thread-like mycelia, which spreads underground and can become massive.  Mycelia is like a plant (the vegetative part,) and mushrooms are like the fruit of the plant, usually visible only under certain weather conditions.

Others say that these rings could begin by joining neighboring oval colonies or genets of these mushrooms.  A genet is a group of clones – genetically identical plants, fungi or bacteria that originate from a single source vegetatively (not sexually.)

Long-term research in England also reveals that rabbits can play an essential part in sustaining fairy rings, because they eat the grass around it, but not the fungus.  Their droppings also return nitrogen to the soil, and by the time the fairy ring has grown to about 20 feet, the rabbit droppings restore nitrogen to the inside of the circle, and a 2nd ring begins inside the first.

Characteristics: The characteristics of fairy ring are either a necrotic zone (where your grass is declining or dead) or a rapid growth zone (where your grass is more lush and green than the rest of your lawn.)  The necrotic zone is usually caused by the underground mycelia which may coat the roots of the grass.  The fungus also depletes nitrogen in the soil.  The rapid-growth zones are caused by certain fungi that produce a hormone-like substance, accelerating growth.  Fairy rings usually grow larger over time, from a few inches to several feet per year.

Control: Whatever the origin, fairy rings are extremely hard to eradicate.  One can measure out one foot from the outside of the ring, remove the sod, and dig up the soil to a depth of one foot, then replace the soil and re-sod or re-seed.  Seeding is preferred because there is less likelihood of re-establishing the fungus.  However, this is very difficult, and even a little spilled soil can start the fungus again.  Most decide to just leave it, and enjoy a little bit of strange nature.

Fairy Ring Trivia

Few fungi would be referred to as fascinating, but fairy rings have shown up in myths for centuries.  In fact, it’s mentioned often in European literature in the 13th century.  It’s a gateway into the elfin kingdom, a place in the forest or meadow for pixies and fairies to dance, and if you find a fairy ring, and you’re lucky, you could possibly catch an elf!  Of course, in France, they’re known as sorcerer’s rings and in Germany, it’s said that witches dance in the rings, not elves and pixies.  In Austria, fairy rings are attributed to the fiery tales of flying dragons!

One of the largest fairy rings ever found is still located in France.  It’s about 2,000 feet in diameter and estimated to be 700 years old.

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