Lawn rust is the common name given to any one of the many types of fungi that attack turfgrass throughout North America. Symptoms include yellowing and wilting. Without immediate treatment, lawn rust can cause widespread dead patches in the grass. You can minimize your chances of experiencing a rust-afflicted lawn through careful management strategies that boost your lawn's health and remove the environments that the fungus needs to develop into a problem.
Grow a rust-resistant grass cultivar. Such grasses are bred to counter the types of rust found in specific regions and should be bought locally from a garden store or nursery. For example, a rust-resistant cultivar for annual ryegrass was released by the Florida Agricultural Extension Service in the 1960s, but wouldn't necessarily be resistant to the types of rust fungi on the West Coast.
Water your grass early in the morning. This allows the moisture to burn off during the day. Thus, the grass does not stay wet for an extended period of time, which is a prime situation for rust growth.
Prune back surrounding trees and shrubs to increase sunlight and air movement on your lawn. This reduces the humid, shady and stagnant environment that's needed for rust spores to develop.
Mow your lawn regularly and frequently. This chops off the top growth where rust spores may congregate and grow. Cut your grass to the height that's recommended for your specific species. For example, hybrid zoysia grass can be trimmed to a half inch, while most ryegrasses should be cut to 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches. If your lawn shows signs of rust, sweep up and remove the grass clippings to reduce the spores on your lawn's surface.
Fertilize regularly with a standard lawn fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer according to its labeled instructions, since potency varies by product. Fertilizer increases your grass' health and encourages growth, pushing any present rust toward the surface where it can be mowed and removed.