Snow Mold on Your Spring Lawn
An Unwelcome Spring Surprise
Believe it or not, spring is just around the corner! While spring is an exciting time for lawn care, it is also the time of year that winter damage reveals itself. Over the winter, there is no doubt that our lawns suffer given the harsh conditions. If you live in the more northern part of the country, it is possible that your lawn is at risk for developing snow mold.
What is Snow Mold and What Causes It?
There are two types of snow mold: gray and pink. Both types are diseases that can affect northern turfgrass species. These diseases are typically seen in the spring soon after the snow melts. Gray snow mold often requires snow coverage that lasts for more than 90 days. Pink snow mold tends to develop in milder weather conditions with temperatures of less than 60F and in areas with more alkaline soil. It can also be more severe when the snow has fallen on unfrozen ground or in rainy weather.
Your lawn may be more susceptible to the development of snow mold if your lawn has poor drainage and is excessively damp. The excess water creates a breeding ground for disease that can spread and worsen the conditions of your lawn. Dense leaf coverage and excessively long grass that is left over the winter can also leave your lawn prone to disease. This can contribute to excessive thatch and can suffocate your turf.
How to Identify Snow Mold
Homeowners often notice areas of discoloration that appear to have strands of webby, fungal material in clumps coating the grass. The fungal looking material is known as mycelium. The areas of discoloration associated with gray snow mold can have black sclerotia visible in the patches that are light brown, gray or straw-colored – usually 10 inches in diameter. Pink snow mold patches appear yellow, tan or salmon-colored, often with a distinct pink round around the outer edges. Typically, pink snow mold patches are a bit smaller at about 1-8 inches in diameter.
Preventing & Treating Snow Mold in Champaign, IL
The likelihood of your lawn developing snow mold is lower if you follow appropriate cultural practices.
- Only apply moderate amounts nitrogen to your lawn in the fall
- Mow your lawn until it stops growing at the end of the season
- Improve drainage if your lawn is excessively wet
- Manage excessive thatch by raking or aerating
- Avoid applying late-fall fertilizer as it promotes growth before dormancy
- Rake or mulch fallen leaves in the fall
- Avoid evening and night time watering
If you notice snow mold on your lawn, gently rake the affected area. This will allow your turf to breathe by loosening matted grass and hopefully reducing excess thatch that may be harboring the disease. Putting down an application of slow-release fertilizer may also help the lawn recover.
Brought to you by Weed Man Lawn Care Champaign, IL: we care for your lawn.