Recently, a friend posted pictures of fairy rings on her face book page. No, not that kind. The kind that show up as a ring of toadstools in your lawn when there has been adequate moisture.
Actually, they are a fungal lawn disease, but doesn't it sound nicer to call them fairy rings? They may appear as a ring of toadstools, but they may also appear as rings of deep green, lush grass with areas of dead or yellowed grass between the rings. Eventually the dead or yellowed grass will result in circular rings of bare soil.
Fairy rings are caused by certain types of fungi which form threads that become so densely packed that the lawn is starved for both water and nutrients. Because I love fairy tales and the many wonderful illustrations of fairies hiding beneath mushrooms or toadstools, or sitting atop them, I confess that I enjoy seeing the fairy rings--just not in our lawn.
They are actually a serious problem and difficult to eradicate if they get started in a lawn. It is even recommended to mow any fungal infected area separately from the rest of the lawn and to collect the clippings and burn them, as they may contain fungal spores that can spread to other parts of your yard.
Last summer we discovered a large fairy ring, but there were no mushrooms or toadstools. It simply looked as if fairies had danced all night, enough to wear away all the grass and leave only their dancing circle. At any rate, that seems to me a much more pleasant way to observe this unusual phenomenon than recognizing it as a fungus. Because it was far from the house and not in our lawn, we did not treat the area with a fungicide, and it did return this summer, in a less distinct way.
As long as the fungus does not spread to our lawn, I actually enjoy seeing it. I guess some people never grow old enough to stop enjoying a belief in fairies.
Thank you for sharing your photograph, Marsha!