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?

Well it is likely that you have lawn rust, 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 affect turf grasses.

It is usually prevalent in later summer/early fall when the lawns growth is quite slow.

Dry weather and lack of nitrogen can also be factors that lead 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:

  • Grass blades are 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
  • Lawn eventually become weak and will be damaged easily
  • 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 ways to treat rust fungus on your lawns:


Fertilizing your lawn is the best way to treat lawn fungus. Regular fertilizing of your lawn using an appropriate spreader will encourage the grass to grow faster, slow growing grass gives the disease lots of time to develop and entrench itself in your lawn.

We recommend a nitrogen rich fertilizer such as Scotts. See why we recommend Scotts fertilizer here.

Scotts Turf Builder Lawn Food, 12.5 lb. – Lawn Fertilizer Feeds and Strengthens Grass to Protect…

  • Feeds and strengthens to help protect against future problems
  • Builds strong, deep roots
  • Improves lawn’s ability to absorb water and nutrients versus an unfed lawn
  • Formulated with Scotts exclusive all-in-one particle technology for even greening and feeding
  • Apply to any grass type

Check Amazon Price Info last updated 2020-02-01 at 03:14

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 we 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 left over 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.

Also ensure that your equipment is washed down properly after mowing to remove any left over rust dust.

Looking for a good cordless mower? Check out this post.

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.

Scotts Lawn Fungus Control, 5,000-sq ft, 6.75 Pounds

  • Controls brown patch, dollar spot and other common lawn diseases* *See label for listed diseases.
  • Use any time on any lawn to prevent or control listed lawn diseases
  • Systemic-action formula
  • Controls major lawn fungus problems without fertilizer application
  • Does not contain fertilizer

Check Amazon Price Info last updated 2020-02-01 at 03:14

Lawn Rust FAQ

Is lawn rust harmful to pets?

No, lawn rust is nor harmful to pets. You may however find that they get a bit of an orange tinge to their coat!

Is grass rust harmful to humans?

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

Make sure your lawn is healthy, check our list of essential lawn care tools here.

Pricing last updated on 2020-02-01 at 03:24 / affiliate links – Details

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.

Best Lawn Mower Reviews 2019

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 – Identifying And Treating Grass Rust Fungus

Turf grasses are prey to numerous pest and disease problems. Finding rust fungus in lawn areas is a common issue, especially where excess moisture or dew is present. Keep reading for more information on the control of rust on grass.

What is Lawn Grass Rust Fungus?

Rust is a fungal disease that occurs on turf grasses when their growth is slowed. This usually happens in late summer or early fall, during periods of dry weather or when the grass is low on nitrogen. Lawn rust can weaken the vigor of the grass and open it to other diseases and turf problems. Grass rust fungus spreads easily through its spores but rust fungus in lawns does not require fungicides in most cases.

Identification of Rust Fungus in Lawn

Grass rust identification can be done by pulling a couple of blades out of the turf. The blades will be coated with orange-red to yellowish brown dust or spores. The lawn rust begins with yellowing leaf blades and small yellowish spots which mature to orange, red or brown coloring. The spores can be rubbed off the grass blades with a finger. Overall, patches of the grass will become thin and weak.

Many types of plants are susceptible to rust fungus, from ornamental plants to evergreens. Grass rust problems are very obvious due

to the large amount of space the plant covers. The formation of the spores often occurs when there are cool nights with heavy dew and frequent rainfall. Warm cloudy, humid conditions followed by bright hot sun also favor the formation of the spores. Basically, anytime the grass is not allowed to dry out after a period of 6 to 8 hours, rust on grass begins to form. Grass rust problems also appear more frequently when thatch in lawns is too thick or mowing is infrequent.

Problems Associated with Rust Fungus

Coated leaf blades with lawn rust fungus can minimize the ability of the grass to photosynthesize. The blades of grass are the collectors of solar energy, which is turned into carbohydrates or plant sugars to fuel the growth of the sod. When the leaves are excessively covered with spores, the photosynthetic action cannot be carried out efficiently and the fuel for good health and growth is not adequately collected.

Poor vigor and a susceptibility to pests and other diseases will follow high rust on grass infestations. In addition, the accumulation of spores create dust when mowing and may cling to shoes and lawn or garden equipment, increasing its spreading nature.

Control of Rust on Grass

There are many turf grass species (such as Kentucky bluegrass and ryegrass) that are resistant to rust fungus; but if replacing your sod is not an option, there are other control measures. In fact, most grass rust problems can usually be resolved with good maintenance and healthy practices.

Mow the lawn frequently to keep it at a moderate height. Also, be sure to rinse off lawn equipment to prevent the spread of disease. Rake and remove any thatch that becomes more than ½ inch deep, as this minimizes air circulation and provides an ideal breeding area for spores.

Water early in the day so the grass has a chance to dry before the higher heat of the day occurs. Test your soil before fertilizing in fall and add nitrogen if necessary. September is the optimum time to fertilize your sod.

In most cases, applying a chemical control is not recommended or necessary as the grass will not die off. If the infection is severe, the grass can get an unattractive appearance. In some areas, controlling the environmental conditions is not possible, so the rust makes an annual appearance. In any of these cases, however, it is appropriate to apply a fungicide to prevent the spores from forming.

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.

Learn more about…

Snow Mold
Spring Dead Spot Brown Patch Treatments

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.

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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