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What is Rust disease?

Sometimes known as leaf rust or lawn rust, rust disease is a fungal infection caused by organisms in the species family Pucciniaceae and are some of the oldest diseases known to attack grass species.

All Rust fungi species are obligate parasites, which means that they require a living host to complete their life cycle. They generally do not kill their entire host plant but may kill leaves and will severely reduce their growth and health.

The fungi that cause rust disease are very different to those that may produce mushrooms as rusts cannot grow in your soil or decompose organic material. They are simply pathogens that move from leaf to leaf.

When does Rust disease develop?
In the UK, lawn rust is normally seen on lawns between early summer and the autumn, (May to November), but it can appear outside of these times if the warm and wet conditions which it favours do persist. Lawns are also more prone to infection if left to grow long, as the action of mowing tends to cut off the infected leaves before the fungus has a chance to take hold and spore.
How does Rust affect my lawn?

Rust can affect most lawn grass species, however it it usually only ever seen on broader-leaved rye grass species. Grass in the shade does seem to be much more susceptible than grass grown in full sun.

Rust disease rarely causes serious problems in grasses and the problem is generally more visual, causing large unsightly areas of infected grass. However, the weakened grass can be then more susceptible to infection to other diseases, such as red thread or fusarium, which can become a serious problem.

How can you control Rust disease in your lawn?

The best way to control a rust infection is by improving the strength of the grass through regular lawn maintenance. Keeping it fertilised, watered, aerated and mown correctly will improve the ability of the grass to fight any infections itself. If you can, it would also beneficial to reduce the amount of shade on the lawn and to space plants around your lawn so that there is a healthy amount of clean air circulated over the lawn.

If you regularly suffer from repeat rust infections, then it would be a good idea to consider overseeding your lawn with a grass species that is much more resistance to infection.


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