There is so much to look forward to in the spring - warmer weather, the smell of spring flowers in the air and bringing your dormant, lackluster lawn back to green life after being buried under a blanket of snow. But as the snow melts, in addition to some little surprises left by your dog, you could find yourself with another unpleasant finding - snow mold.
It’s exactly what it sounds like – fungus. Snow mold appears in circular patterns all over the lawn and will continue to spread and enlarge as long as the grass is wet and cold. Despite its name, snow and/or melting snow doesn’t necessarily need to be present for this fungus to grow.
The are two different types of snow mold, both of which can damage your lawn:
Gray snow mold, the less damaging of the two, forms whitish gray patches that look like spider webs running over your lawn. It can survive the warmer months underground or in plant debris. Typically, gray snow mold only affects the blades of grass, which means a full recovery is very common. Pink snow mold can take more of a toll on your lawn. Being whitish pink in appearance, this type of snow mold survives the summer months as spores in decayed plant debris. If you don’t deal with it right away, pink snow mold can actually destroy your lawn’s crown and roots.
Thankfully, snow mold is not usually a serious killer, and it’s a fairly easy problem to solve if your lawn has it. As soon as the snow melts, use a rake to break up any snow mold that has accumulated on the lawn, exposing the area to sun and air, which will help to dry it out. After you’ve finished raking, dispose of everything and make sure to bag your first cut of the season to remove any snow mold remnants and dead tissue. You don’t want that sitting on your lawn.
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If you discovered snow mold this spring, here are some winter lawn care tips you can use to keep it from coming back next year:
Keep mowing until your grass is no longer growing! Grass grows faster in cooler weather, so you will likely be mowing well into fall. Rake and dispose of fallen leaves as soon as possible after they’ve fallen. (A blanket of wet leaves creates an ideal snow mold environment.) Remove any straw or mulch piles for the same reason. Lower your last cut of the season by ¼” – ¾” so the grass is shorter. Longer blades bend, mat and encourage snow mold growth. If you have a lawn care program in place, make sure the final treatment of the season is balanced and tailored to your lawn’s needs. If you do need to reseed, fall (late August through October) is the time to do it. The cooler temperatures and higher precipitation are ideal conditions for new grass seed to take hold. Over the course of winter, spread out any large snow piles as much as you can, to encourage faster melting.
While snow mold is annoying and unsightly, with some advanced planning and a little extra attention, you can keep it from ruining your spring.