One of the biggest threats to our lawns throughout the winter and into spring is snow mold. As the snow begins to melt, you may start to see spots and patches of mold on your lawn. Preventing snow mold is the best way to protect your lawn. Here are a few tips on how to prevent snow mold to help you keep your lawn lush and healthy this spring.
Snow Mold: What is it?
The first step to prevent snow mold is to understand what snow mold is. Snow mold is a quick-growing fungus that affects cool-season grass during the winter and early spring. The fungus forms in matted-down grass under a layer of snow. Snow mold is especially bad when snow falls on unfrozen ground. The fungus doesn’t make itself known until the snow begins to melt, that’s when you’ll see the unmistakable patches of affected turf.
Snow mold is most common in lawns with longer grass when the first snow hits. It forms under large piles of snow and piles of leaves or lawn debris that are left in the lawn over the winter. Your lawn is more at risk of developing snow mold in the winter and early spring if it hasn’t been properly cared for throughout the year. There are two different types of snow mold that affect lawns: gray snow mold and pink snow mold. Knowing the differences helps you save your grass from extensive damage.
Gray Snow Mold (Typhula Blight)
Of the two different types, gray snow mold is the better one to find in your lawn. Gray snow mold presents itself as circular or irregular-shaped patches of matted down grass. These patches are typically gray or straw-colored, with a border of gray mycelium. While the patches have been known to get as large as 24 inches in diameter, gray snow mold usually has a diameter of 6 – 12 inches. The good news about gray snow mold is that it’s easy to control, easy to treat, and doesn’t harm the roots or crown of your grass.
Pink Snow Mold (Microdochium Patch)
Pink snow mold, on the other hand, is not a fungus you want to find in your yard. This nasty fungus forms as circular or irregular-shaped patches of matted and diseased grass. The patches are brown, red, or copper-colored with a border of pink mycelium. Patches of pink snow mold are usually between 1 – 8 inches in diameter, but have been known to get as large as 24 inches. The bad news about pink snow mold is that it does damage the roots and crown of your grass, often resulting in plant death. This means your lawn will be less healthy in the spring and you’ll need to repair the dead patches.
How To Prevent Snow Mold
The big question every year is how to prevent snow mold from developing in your yard. There are a few different lawn care techniques that can dramatically reduce the likelihood of developing gray or pink snow mold.
Proper Lawn Maintenance
When it comes to snow mold or any lawn disease, proper maintenance of your lawn is the key to prevention. Keeping your lawn healthy throughout the year helps build your lawn’s immune system, making it more resilient against fungi, diseases, pests, and weeds. Proper fertilization throughout the year is essential to the strength and health of your lawn. Make sure you stop using nitrogen-rich fertilizers at the end of the fall because nitrogen also feeds fungi.
Maintenance in the fall is a great way to set your lawn up for a fungus-free winter and spring. Mow your lawn one last time before the first frost because if your grass is too long when the snow hits, it’ll become the perfect matted environment for snow mold. It’s also important to rake your leaves and remove any piles from your lawn. When snow covers piles of leaves or lawn debris, the grass is further compacted and is much more prone to a fungal infection. The same is true for piles of snow. Make sure you don’t pile up too much snow in one place, spread it around.
If you find snow mold in your lawn when the snow starts to melt, don’t panic. The first step with snow mold is to use a rake to aerate the affected grass. Raking the area helps lift the grass, removing any matting and allowing a better flow of air through your grass. Snow mold, like all fungi, needs moisture to thrive. Raking the affected areas helps dry the grass out, making the environment inhospitable for snow mold. For extreme cases, you may need to use a fungicide to clear up any persistent fungus.
Land-Art Can Give Your Lawn a Healthy Boost This Year
Here at Land-Art, we want to give you and your lawn the best shot at a healthy year. With our comprehensive lawn care programs, we ensure your lawn gets everything it needs all year long. Creating a healthy lawn is the best way to prevent snow mold, lawn diseases, pests, weeds, and other turf troubles.