Chemical Injury

January 15, 2018
  • Chemical Injury Salt Damage

Chemical Injury

Management of high-quality turf often requires chemical use. Along with the chemical application comes applicator chemical injury errors. This can result in turf damage.


Any pesticide applied to turfgrass to improve plant health (e.g. fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides) should always be applied in accordance with the product label. Many compounds used for turfgrass disease and pest management have growth regulating properties. Therefore, misapplication of pesticides can result in injury. Generally, the damage will appear in a pattern that corresponds to the method of application. This can include broad swaths, narrow streaks, or other regular patterns. Specific symptoms of this type of injury are variable and include chlorosis, leaf speckling, and death. These symptoms can develop very soon or several weeks after application. The best overall solutions to correct the problem can include removing the soil, rotating the site into a fallow area, bioremediation, or using activated charcoal to absorb the chemical.

Animal UrineDog Urine Damage

Urine from animals, which contains soluble salts, urea, and many other compounds. Often when soluble salt content is high, and urine is deposited onto one spot, the turf is killed.  The dead area will be surrounded by a margin of dark green, rapidly growing grass. In fact, of all the sources of salts, only animal urine and fertilizer spills result in dead patches with dark green margins. Areas of contained damage can be frequently irrigated to remove the salt, salt tolerant cultivars can be planted in known problem areas or OMRI SO4 can be applied. In addition, aeration can enhance drainage. The best overall solution is animal control.

Ice Removal Salt

Salt injury appears as dead or dying patches of turf near roadside areas or sidewalks where salts were applied for snow and ice removal. Symptoms also can occur in patches if snow or ice removal resulted in piling. If dying patches appear in the absences of injury which is diagnostic of disease activity upon careful inspection, and plants cannot be easily pulled from the soil, heavy watering is recommended to dilute the salt concentration before reseeding the area. Areas prone to salt damage (i.e. roadsides and parkways) can be managed by planting salt tolerant cultivars and by removing salt by aerating and watering frequently.



L. J. Giesler. (1997). Abiotic Turf Injury and Disorders. In F. Baxendale, Ph.D., & R. Gaussoin, Ph.D., Integrated Turfgrass Management for the Northern Great Plains (pp. 162 – 165). Location: Nebraska

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