Fairy Rings

The term 'fairy ring' is used to describe a number of turf grass diseases where soil-borne fungi cause certain symptoms to develop on the surface of the sward. Fairy rings are caused by the activity of many fungi classified as basidiomycetes.

Not all basidiomycete fungi cause fairy rings but all fairy rings are caused by basidiomycete fungi! Dry patch symptoms on fine turf areas are also thought to be associated with basidiomycete fungi. For those who are interested I've finished this blog of with a list of some of them.


Type 1 fairy rings typically have a ring of dead grass which is bordered on both sides by a band of stimulated grass growth. Fungal fruiting bodies (mushrooms or toadstools) may be found associated with these rings.

Fairy Ring UK Turf Disease

Type 2 fairy rings are typically a ring of stimulated grass growth with or without the fungal fruiting bodies.

Type 3 fairy rings generally show no change in the growth of the grass but are evident only by the presence of rings of fungal fruiting bodies.

Superficial fairy rings are caused by fungal activity in the thatch (hence, also known as thatch fungi). They can cause rings or patches of yellowed or greened-up turf and may also be associated with slight depressions of the turf surface. Fungal fruiting bodies will not be seen with superficial fairy rings.

In many cases, the presence of these fungi can be confirmed by smelling the rootzone which will take on a characteristic musty smell. Although all fairy rings will start from a single point and increase in size annually, eventually forming recognisable rings, the growth of these rings will not stop unless the fungus hits a solid surface or disturbed ground. As rings grow together (or coalesce), the definite ring pattern will change to become broken rings, arcs or ribbons across the turf surface.

High Risk Situations

  • Presence of tree stumps and other resevoirs of organic matter.
  • High thatch levels in fine turf.
  • High organic matter soils.

Integrated Turf Management Tips:

  • Avoid using root zone mixes with high levels of undecomposed organic materials
  • Reduce thatch by verti-cutting
  • Pro-active thatch management program
  • Irrigate deeply
  • Use nitrogen fertiliser to mask symptoms on some types of fairy ring
  • Use soil wetting agents/soil surfactants to help alleviate hydrophobic soil conditions

Fungicidal Control

On the basis of limited evidence, Heritage will reduce the effects of Type 2 Fairy Rings. For best results applications should be made with the addition of a wetting agent to sufficiently wet the soil to allow the Heritage to get to the basidiomycete.

Casual agents

  • Agaricus campestris
  • Chorophyllum molybdites
  • Collybis spp
  • Hygrocybe spp
  • Lepiota spp
  • Marasmius oreades
  • Bovista spp
  • Scleroderma spp
  • Tricholoma spp
  • Lycoperdon clitocybe
  • Agrocybe spp
  • Corprinus comatus
  • Coprinus kubickae
  • Melanotus phillipsii
  • Trechispora alnicola
  • Trechispora cohaerens
  • Trechispora farinacea
  • Lycoperdon spp
  • and
  • Other species.

Find out about Fairy Rings in cricket pitches in my blog here.

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