Fairy Ring: fungi and folklore

20th Aug 2019


Fairy Ring is one of the most visible turfgrass diseases. If you watched the Cricket World Cup coverage from Lord’s this summer you may have noticed distinctive circles of darker grass on the square. Tennis fans may have spotted them on the hallowed courts at Wimbledon too.

It’s very common. Fairy ring affects all types of turf, from golf courses to lawns and parks. You may have seen circular or arc shaped rings, ranging in size from a few inches in diameter to a few feet, where the outer edges or rings are darker green than the surrounding grass, or mushrooms are visible.


They have been the subject of myth and folklore for centuries, but it was Dr. William Withering, a physician, botanist and mineralogist from Shropshire, who discovered in 1792 that they were caused by fungi.

Around sixty fungi are associated with causing it. They are basidiomycetes which produce mushrooms, puffballs or toadstools as their fruiting structure. Fairy Ring’s effect on grass depends on the type of fungus. Some cause it to wither, while others stimulate excessive growth.

Fairy Ring does not attack or infest the grass plant directly, but can damage or kill it through its outward growth through the soil. Each year a Fairy Ring can expand by up to 20cm as bacteria grow outwards underground in search of nutrients.

Our experienced turf professionals have all managed Fairy Ring on their sports pitches, golf courses and amenity areas during their careers. To help prevent it, they manage thatch (dead and decaying grass and other organic matter) in your lawn, and ensure it is sufficiently aerated and drained. If you spot the odd toadstool in your lawn, the best thing to do is remove it by hand or with a brush to prevent it maturing.

If you think you have Fairy Ring or would like some advice about toadstools, give your local Lawn Master a call and they’ll be happy to help.

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