How to get rid of rust fungus on grass?

How to prevent further infection

To prevent an infection from returning or to stop one taking hold in the first place, you should simply follow the same procedure detailed above for dealing with an outbreak of rust.

Make sure your grass is healthy and fast-growing, and make sure you cut it often. Also, remove any thatch to give your grass the best conditions for strong growth. This will help boost its natural abilities to fight rust.

Ensure your lawn doesn’t become overly moist and that there is a good flow of air. This will help prevent rust from gaining a foothold.

If you live in an area that has a higher risk of grass rust, you might also consider choosing grass species that are naturally rust resistant.

Healthy lawn is the key

If you want to avoid grass rust, the most important step is to keep your lawn healthy. Feed it well, mow it regularly and look after it well. This will help your grass fight infections before they begin – and if your grass does become infected, it will also be better equipped to fight back naturally to end the infection.

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Rust on lawns is a common fungal turf disease caused by various fungi, such as Puccinia or Uromyces species, that makes leaves look yellowish-orange and unattractive. The disease often occurs in the late summer or early fall on the undernourished lawns. This disease can give you an unpleasant feeling. So, in this article, I would like to show you how to recognize lawn rust as well as the way to get rid of it quickly.

How to identify lawn rust?

Lawn rust can be recognized when the blades of grass change from green to yellow or orange. If you take a closer look, you can see lots of tiny pustules breaking through the leaf surface. The spores can come off on your hand as you rub the grass blades with your fingers. Their color is commonly orange and sometimes black. When walking on the infected grass, your shoes or clothes may have orange powder on them. Rust fungi doesn’t usually kill the grass, but it makes it have a bad appearance

The rust starts to develop when the weather is dry, and there is low nitrogen or imbalanced soil fertility. The ideal conditions for rust to develop include cool nights with heavy dew and frequent rainfall or warm, cloudy, humid weather followed by hot, sunny weather. The main point is if the turf stays wet for a long period of time (6 to 8 hours), the rust will form.

Bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescues are all affected by rust fungi, although Kentucky bluegrass and some tall fescues can resist them. Rust is a disease for long grass in a poor or low nutrition condition, especially when the air temperature is above 20 degree centigrade. It spreads via air, water, shoes (when you use shoes cleaner), clothes, garden equipment, and vegetative turf materials. Once the grass is infected, it becomes more susceptible to other diseases.

How to control the disease?

If the infection is not very serious, you might not have to do anything to rescue the grass. The fungus loves the warm and humid temperatures so when the weather condition changes, the grass will be able to resist the rust. But there are some active ways to prevent your lawn from rust disease:

Diversify the type of grass

To prevent the disease before it starts, you can select those species of grass which are resistant to rust. A mix-variety lawn may combat rust fungi much better than a single-variety lawn. However, if this doesn’t work, there are other control methods.

Encourage the vitality of your lawn

The best remedy for this disease is to encourage the vitality of the lawn because the rust develops when the grass is weak. In order to increase the vigor of grass, you can apply nitrogen during early fall, but do not overuse it. September is the ideal time for fertilization.

Eliminate the preferred condition of rust fungi

Avoid light and frequent irrigation as it just facilitates the conditions for rust fungus to develop faster. Instead, water the grass in the early morning so that it will dry quickly. There are various types of grass, and each of them requires a different amount of fertilizers as well as water. If you have no idea about it, consult a local plant nursery for advice. Please remember to ensure good airflow and light penetration by trimming trees and bushes around the lawn. By doing so, we will enable a sufficient drying time for the grass.

Sufficiently mowing

Keeping thatch as little as possible can help protect your grass from rust fungi. If rust already appears in your lawn, mow regularly with your self propelled mower to reduce the amount of rust and collect grass clippings when you mow to avoid the further spread of the disease across your lawn. Always wash your mower deck, wheels, and spray with detergent for sterilizing after mowing. Minimize traffic on the infected areas to avoid spreading the spores. The better you control the outbreaks this year, the less spores will spread around and give you trouble the next year.

Aerate the soil

Soil compaction is another reason you lawn might be weaker. Aerate the compacted soils to create spaces for nutrients and water to reach your turf root system. As a result, the grass can grow thicker and healthier. Then, it can withstand the rust.

Use fungicides

In most cases, proper maintenance and healthy practices are the preferred treatments against lawn diseases including rust. Fungicides are recommended for rust control when the traditional practices have failed to stop the disease from spreading out. Be careful when you apply fungicides on your lawn as they usually contain toxic chemicals. Thus, please remember to read the manufacturer instructions carefully before using any fungicide. You may need to repeat the application several times (usually within 6 weeks) to dry out the spores and get rid of rust fungi.


Rust may visit your lawn every year, and you cannot change the weather to defeat rust. Nevertheless, it is easy to change the practices that may predispose rust. You just need to focus on the good practices, which were mentioned above, because they are the key to a healthy lawn. Please remember that encouraging the vigorous growing conditions helps grasses fight off problematic pathogens, and routine monitoring as well as scouting allows for early detection of any disease problems.

Lawn Rust

Scientific Name: Puccinia spp.

Common Name: Rust disease

Primary Grass Affected: Kentucky Bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue

Brief Description: Rust colored (orange) powdery substance in spots or entirely coating grass blades, easily brushed off.

What is Lawn Rust?

Lawn rust is an unusual lawn disease that can be easily identified up close when looking at each individual grass blade. The orange or rust colored fruiting bodies that eventually develop on grass blades as a result of infection by the various types of Lawn Rust fungi help to differentiate it from other lawn diseases. In its powdery form, Lawn Rust is spread easily, by anything from the wind, grass blades brushing against one another and people, animals or even insects walking through it.

This disease prefers the shade, but also heat and humidity. Unlike many other fungal lawn diseases, it grows well in soil that is low in nitrogen.

Signs and Symptoms of Lawn Rust

Lawn Rust initially looks like small, yellow dots on grass blades, appearing from a distance as lighter patches of normal grass. As the disease develops the light dots lengthen, eventually rupturing and producing the rust colored tufts of powder-like substance that gives the disease its name.

Severe Lawn Rust infections will color the entire length of the grass blade and can eventually cause the grass to appear shredded and point downwards rather than standing upright. Less severe infections will only cause the grass to grow more slowly, and the lawn to appear discolored. However, any level of infection will make your lawn more likely to attract other lawn diseases while the grass is weakened.

How to Prevent Lawn Rust

Lawn Rust can be prevented by fertilizing the lawn with nitrogen-based fertilizer, and by watering for long periods at long intervals rather than for short periods at short intervals to ensure that the grass continues to grow thickly. This will help your lawn to fight off diseases and pests that might otherwise take advantage of weakened grass. It is always a good idea to aerate the lawn when faced with fungal lawn infections, as many fungi prefer moist, poorly draining soil to grow in. Minimizing the amount of shade your lawn gets will also help to kill off Lawn Rust and prevent it from appearing.

Fungicides should be applied to lawns infected with Lawn Rust only in severe cases, before the disease goes into dormancy for the winter. However, Lawn Rust infestations may go away on their own with proper fertilization.

Need Help with Lawn Rust?

Call Green Lawn Fertilizing today at 888-581-5296 and let’s talk about how we can help you with Lawn Rust and other lawn diseases.

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THe GREEn insider

In Cleveland and Columbus, you understand that you’re going to have to deal with rust. With the seasonal weather and amount of salt we put on our roads during the Winter, everyone can expect a certain amount of rust on their cars. What you may not know is that you can also expect to see rust in your lawn as Summer winds down. We’ll take a look at causes rust, and what you can do to fix it.

What is Lawn Rust?

Lawn rust is a fungus that grows on bluegrass or ryegrass. This fungus is mostly cosmetic, and will not harm your lawn. It appears on your lawn as orangish powder spores directly on the blades of your grass that comes off on shoes, clothing, lawn mowers, pets and other items. Rust uses this transportation mode to spread to other areas of your lawn, furthering the progression of the fungi.

How Did I Get It In My Yard?

Lawn rust is a sign of slow growing, stressed lawns that are in trouble. Poor growth during the Summer is often due to a few factors such as improper watering, soil compaction, low nitrogen levels and heat stress. Rust often appears in lawns at the end of Summer or the beginning of Fall due to the warm days and cool evenings with large amounts of dew.

3 Ways to Prevent Rust

Rust is a sure sign of a struggling lawn that needs some tender loving care. However, following these 3 tips will help alleviate rust, and prevent it in the future.

  1. Reduce Soil Compaction with a Lawn Aeration – A core aeration pulls thousands of tiny little plugs out of your lawn creating areas for nutrients and water to hit your turf’s root system. The newly created areas allow for the roots to begin to grow downwards again, resulting a thicker, healthier lawn that will be rust resistant.
  2. Bag Your Lawn Trimmings – A build up of thatch can lead to thinning grass and a stressed out lawn. This, coupled with the fall weather, can lead to rust on your lawn. Keeping thatch at a minimum can prevent fungi from invading your lawn. If you already have rust, cutting your lawn without bagging it will help the fungi spread across your lawn further.
  3. Water Infrequently, Deeply AND not at Night – Long periods of water on the blades of your grass can lead to disease creeping in. The key to watering your lawn AND keeping disease away is to water infrequently, such as every other day, for long periods of time. Watering in the morning, and not at night, will also allow for sufficient drying time.

Rust is Just One of the Many Summer Lawn Care Problems You’ll Face. Get Our Free Guide to Learn About the Others!

Fungi, insects, and other lawn care nightmares are out there right now trying to ruin your lawn! It’s time that you fight back and arm yourself with the information you need to not only identify these lawn killers, but find out how you can defeat them! That’s why Weed Pro Lawn Care has put together the 5 Most Common Lawn Care Problems Guide that will help you fight the good fight, and defeat any and all possible threats your lawn may face! The best part of this guide is that it’s yours ABSOLUTELY FREE by clicking on the button below!

Shaun Kanary has been a part of the Green Industry for the past 15 years. As the Director of Marketing for Weed Pro Lawn Care, a Cleveland and Columbus Lawn Care Service Provider, Shaun is a regular contributor to the Weed Pro Blog, and other industry magazine and blogs.
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My lawn was doing great. We enjoyed a wetter-than-normal summer and the temperatures have been warm, but not blazing hot. About three weeks ago, that all changed and we shifted into a normal hot and dry summer. If you live in the Midwest and your lawn has perennial ryegrass in it, you may have noticed your lawn mower turning orange after you mow your lawn. Your shoes also seem to have taken on an orange-ish sheen. This is all happening due to a common turf disease that has been aggravated into activity by a change in the weather—Lawn Rust.

Now, the first thing to know about Lawn Rust Disease is that the spores of this disease are already present in your lawn, as well as just about every other lawn in your neighborhood. The disease becomes active due to the environment, which lately is the perfect concoction for Lawn Rust to develop. Just like a fire needs three components to develop – fuel, heat and oxygen – diseases occur when three conditions are all present: pathogen, host plant and environment. Since those three were all present, Lawn Rust developed in the grass.

The best way to tell if your lawn has Rust is to look at the individual grass blades. You can usually tell the areas where the disease is more prominent, since that area of your lawn will look slightly yellow. If you scuff your feet across the area, a cloud of orange dust will rise up from the lawn. Pick up a few of the grass blades and you will see orange colored spore sacks, called pustules, in parallel rows on the grass blade. Applying a disease control material at this time will have little to no effect on Lawn Rust, as the disease has run its course and is now producing “seeds.”

Treating Lawn Rust Disease is fairly simple, actually. The best thing to do if you lawn has Rust is to fertilize it to stimulate new growth, and provide it with about an inch of water per week. It is also a good idea to collect clippings for two or three weeks to reduce the number of spores that are left on the lawn. It may take a few weeks, but your lawn will look great again.

For more information about Lawn Rust Disease and ways you can keep your lawn healthy, contact your local Spring-Green professional.

Lawn Rust: How to Fix Orange Powder on Your Shoes

May 31, 2018

What’s that on your shoes? This time you’re not tracking mud or dog waste around your lawn or house. That orange powder you’re seeing is lawn rust, a fungal disease that occurs on turf grasses.

This lawn disease starts when grass growth is slowed, generally around late summer or early fall. It can also be caused by environmental factors that prevent grass from growing, like periods of dry weather or when your lawn is low in nitrogen. This fungus spreads through spores, making it a quick spreader. The coated leaf blades with lawn rust fungus diminish the ability of the grass to photosynthesize, leaving your weakened grass open to other diseases, pests, and turf problems.

How to Prevent and Treat Lawn Rust

  • Keep shoes and lawn equipment clean, especially when there are signs of spores
  • Choose a grass that is resistant to lawn rust, like Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass
  • Keep grass at an appropriate height to maximize sunlight
  • Water earlier in the day so the grass has time to dry before the hottest time of the day
  • Fungicide is not recommended for treatment of lawn rust except in extreme outbreaks where other methods aren’t working

Keep Your Lawn Healthy with Help.

The lawn care professionals at Green Lawn Fertilizing have an entire program dedicated to making sure your lawn is in tip-top shape. Our Green Lawn Program includes eight treatments over a year. Call us today at 888-581-5296 to get started.

Have you ever walked through your lawn and noticed a slight orange or reddish-brown tinge across patches of your grass that look like rust? Crazy as it sounds, it might actually have been rust. Not the same kind you’d find on your metal patio furniture, or your car, of course. But one that can be just as destructive.

Rust is a fairly common lawn disease caused by fungus. It usually shows up from mid-summer through late fall, once the growth of your grass has slowed. But rust can also appear any time your turf is under stress, like after extended dry periods. Rust spores are tiny and very light weight. They can be carried long distances by the wind, which means that even the best kept lawns can be infected. Usually, grasses with a fine texture and deep color, like perennial ryegrass and Kentucky bluegrass, are the most likely victims of rust lawn disease.

Recognizing Rust

Rust usually takes hold in shaded areas first, during warm, humid weather. Any grass that remains wet for long periods of time, because of too much watering, lingering dew or poor drainage, could find itself rusting away. The fungi symptoms of this lawn disease begin as tiny yellow spots on the grass blades. These spots become elongated and eventually rupture into clusters of rust-orange spores that give the disease its name. When touched, the powdery, dust-like rust spores leave a color a lot like the fine particles of rust from metal.

Treating Rust Through Lawn Fertilization And Mowing

Rust that is not treated can quickly thin and destroy good turf, and it is especially dangerous to new seed. Once rust is established, a balanced, nitrogen-rich fertilizer works better than lawn disease controls for treating the condition. By mowing more frequently, at a higher mower height, you can also help to remove the rust spores before they spread to other leaves.

Prevention is the Best Cure

As with most lawn diseases, eliminating the conditions that cause rust is the best lawn treatment.

Your lawn service professionals at Spring-Green want to make sure your grass remains healthy and beautiful this season. By working together, we can develop a maintenance lawn service plan to keep your lawn as disease-free as possible.

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Rust Turns Lawns Orange

Rust appears as an orange or yellowish-orange powder (spores) on
grass leaf blades, especially in late summer to early fall when the weather is dry. Rust typically develops on lawns and other turf areas growing very slowly. Overall, the turf may assume a yellow, red, or brown appearance. Close examination will reveal the pustules, which easily rub off on your hand. Rust spores can easily be tracked into homes.

Orangish rust spores are visible on leaf blades of a grass plant.

Low fertility (in particular nitrogen) and low water availability slow down turf growth, allowing rust to develop. Seasons with excess rain may have rust outbreaks due to depletion of available nitrogen. Cool nights with heavy dew and light, frequent rainfall add to the ideal conditions for rust to develop. Warm, cloudy, humid weather followed by hot, sunny weather also favors rust development. Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and tall fescue are all affected, depending on cultivars. Rust spreads via air, water, shoes, equipment, and vegetative turf material (sod). Rust may weaken turfgrasses and make them more susceptible to other problems.

Control rust through sound turf management. Begin by choosing a quality turfgrass seed blend of several cultivars of the species desired for the site. Resistance to rust can vary according to the race of the disease present. A diverse turf stand helps combat rust and numerous other turf problems. Maintain lawns through sound watering, mowing, and fertilizing. Water early in the day so the grass dries quickly. Manage problem thatch. Increase vigor with an early fall nitrogen application, but don’t overdo it. Check soil phosphorus and potassium levels through soil testing. Also assure good airflow over the site and light penetration by pruning trees and shrubs in the area near the lawn.

When rust occurs in late summer, improved growth conditions of early fall often get lawns growing more vigorously and the rust fades away. Early September is a key time for fertilization. If conditions are dry, irrigation is also needed to increase the growth rate of the grass.

Fungicides are rarely suggested on home lawns for rust control. Focus on cultural practices described above.

Written by Bruce Spangenberg, former Extension Educator, Horticulture. University of Illinois Extension.

Lawn Rust Disease Control

What is Lawn Rust?

Lawn rust refers to a family of fungi that attack grass. There are many different species of lawn rust fungi, each of which feeds on a different type of turf. As the name implies, lawn rust causes your turf to change in color, gradually going from green to yellow to dark red and even brown. The darker your turf gets, the further the fungus spores have spread and the more of the plant it has affected.
Rust tends to thrive in relatively moist areas where the days are warm and humid and the nights are cool and dewy. Given the climate of Southeast Michigan, this makes it a serious threat to all lawns in the area. While a wide range of grass species can be affected by it, certain types are particularly vulnerable, especially perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, and Kentucky bluegrass. Rust is also more common in yards that are overwatered, where the soil has low nutrient levels, or where thatch has been allowed to accumulate around large numbers of plants.
Lawn rust is not necessarily a death sentence for your turf. If you remove it quickly enough and keep your lawn properly nourished and watered, the grass blades should be able to return to full health and thickness within a matter of months. But if you fail to adequately counter lawn rust, it can spread all over your turf and cause serious damage, both directly by eating away at it and indirectly by making it more vulnerable to other threats.

Is Lawn Rust Different from Tree Rust?

Yes and no. Both lawn rust and tree rust are part of the same family of fungi, and they have relatively similar symptoms and effects. But the specific species of fungus that give rise to lawn rust are different than those that cause tree rust. This means that if your trees develop rust, you do not have to worry about it spreading to your lawn or vice versa. You should still watch out for one type of rust when you notice the other, however, since the same moist conditions and temperatures favor the development of both. If you do develop both lawn and tree rust, you’ll have to treat them separately.​

Turf Grass Rust

Overview of turf grass rust

Turfgrass rust is a fungal disease that causes lawns to appear yellow or orange when viewed from a distance. The rust fungus produces powdery orange spores that are easily transferred from leaf blades to shoes, pant legs or mowers.

Rust pustules on turf grass

Disease cycle of turf grass rust

Rust tends to show up midsummer, especially when grass growth has been slowed by stresses such as drought, low fertility, close mowing or compaction. The rust fungus thrives when temperatures are moderate (68 to 85 degrees F) and leaves stay wet for extended periods. Long dew periods or night watering can create moisture conditions ideal for infection.

Signs and symptoms of turf grass rust

Initially, diseased plants show yellow spots on the leaves. With time, these spots enlarge and the fungus breaks through the outer leaf surface. By the time the powdery orange spores of the fungus are exposed, it’s obvious how “rust” got its name.

Type of Sample Needed for Diagnosis and Confirmation

The Iowa State University Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic can help you to investigate and confirm if you plant has this disease. Please see our website for current forms, fees, and instructions on collecting and packing samples. Contact information for each states diagnostic laboratory for U.S. residents. If your sample is from outside of Iowa please do not submit it to the Plant & Insect Diagnostic Clinic without contacting us

Management of turf grass rust

We can’t change the weather to defeat rust. However, it is easy to change cultural practices that may predispose turf to rust. Keeping plants in good health also will help discourage visitation by numerous other unfriendly fungi that cause problems on turf.

  • Mowing. Avoid close mowing. Mowing below recommended heights depletes the grass of energy reserves, thins the lawn’s canopy and encourages weeds. The best strategy is to mow frequently, but never remove more than one-third of the plant height. For example, during summer, bluegrass typically should be mowed at 3 to 3 1/2 inches. This means mowing when the grass reaches 4 1/2 inches in height. The rust fungus needs a living plant to survive. Regular mowing severs infected leaf tips from the plant, helping to reduce the amount of fungus present.
  • Watering. Avoid night watering. This increases the length of time grass blades remain wet. Many fungi, including the rust fungi, need to be wet for a certain period of time to infect grass blades. Early morning or afternoon irrigation ensures that plants dry by evening. Also, avoid frequent light waterings. Light waterings discourage downward root growth, predisposing turf to injury during dry periods. Poor root health also allows root nibblers, such as the summer patch fungus, to gain entry into the grass plants.
  • Soil fertility. Apply fertilizer according to soil test recommendations. When too much or too little fertilizer is applied, diseases can gain a foothold. Diseases such as rust and dollar spot tend to occur more on nutrient-deficient lawns than properly fertilized lawns. Excessive fertilization favors leaf growth at the expense of root growth, making the lawn susceptible to diseases such as summer patch, brown patch or Pythium blight. In general, spring and fall applications of a slow-release form of nitrogen are recommended.
  • Thatch. Thatch is the layer of dead grass material on the soil surface of a lawn. A moderate thatch layer is beneficial, acting as a protective mulch layer. Ideally, this layer should be no more than 1/2 inch in thickness. The thatch depth can be checked by cutting several small sections out of the lawn and measuring the layer’s thickness. When thatch becomes excessive, the roots of grass plants tend to grow in the thatch layer rather than in the soil. When the thatch layer dries out during a drought, the root system becomes stressed. Excessive thatch can be removed mechanically. Using a core aeration machine to remove soil cores also provides better movement of water, air and nutrients into the soil.
  • Grass cultivars. Many grass cultivars possess resistance to certain diseases. It’s a good idea to include one or more disease-resistant cultivars in a blend when seeding.
  • Fungicides. Fungicides can control many of the common diseases such as rust. These products, however, cannot replace good cultural practices that reduce stress to lawns. Effectiveness depends on the correct diagnosis of the problem and proper timing of applications. Most products need to be applied before the disease shows up or at the very first signs of disease. It’s sometimes difficult to determine whether fungicide sprays are warranted. Rust, for example, usually doesn’t reach damaging levels before the grass begins winter dormancy. Fungicides are not routinely used.

Adhering to good cultural practices is basic to reducing turf disease problems. Encouraging vigorous growing conditions helps plants to fend off problematic pathogens. Routine monitoring and scouting allow for early detection of any disease problems.


Rust spores in the lawn has caused this case of “orange-shoe disease.”

(George Weigel)

Q: My wife and I have been noticing some form of yellow “dust” that is on grassy areas around our townhome area. When we get back from walking our dog, we notice this sediment on the soles of our shoes. I was wondering if you might know what it is. I think it’s some form of pollen or something similar in the air, but my wife feels it’s something that was applied by the landscape group that maintains the grounds.

A: That sounds like a case of the “orange-shoe disease” to me. That’s the nickname for a type of fungal lawn disease known as rust that’s fairly common this time of year.

The orangish/yellowish sticky powder you’re seeing isn’t a pollen or any kind of lawn chemical. It’s the reproductive spores from the fungus. When you walk through a rust-infested lawn, the spores stick to your shoes, and they end up turning the shoes orange/yellow.

The spores aren’t poisonous or toxic, but like any particulate matter, they can cause some lung irritation and coughing if you breathe them in.

Also good news is that rust isn’t a humongous threat to lawns. It’s more annoying than anything and usually doesn’t cause serious or long-term damage.

Lawn fungicides (sold in most home and garden centers) can control the spread and duration of rust, but hardly anyone (including me) recommends it unless there’s a really bad and intolerable outbreak.

Normally, the disease winds down on its own. When conditions don’t favor it, you might not see it at all in ensuing years.

One thing that might help more than anything is fertilizing. Rust tends to happen more often in lawns that are lacking nitrogen – the nutrient that turfgrass needs most. Mid-autumn is a good time to add it, just as the growing season is ending.

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