As a responsible homeowner who cares for your lawn, you likely finished last year with vibrant grass that was well prepared to weather the winter. Yet no matter how good a job you did protect your lawn at the time, there is always a risk that new diseases will spread through and damage your lawn as soon as the warm weather returns.
Certain diseases can even develop in the dead of winter. Chief among these cold weather catastrophes is snow mold, a fungal infection that grows under the extremely low temperatures that Michigan is known for. By recognizing snow mold and taking the proper precautions against it, you can keep your lawn healthy throughout the winter and the rest of the year.
Snow mold refers to two distinct diseases, each of which can threaten your lawn in different ways. One is gray mold, which attacks the blades of your grass without causing much damage to the underlying roots. Pink mold is more severe, attacking the entire plant and causing harm that is harder to reverse.
Both gray and pink snow mold survive the summer as dormant sclerotia, allowing them to resist high temperatures with ease. Then when temperatures drop down to winter levels, they begin to spread across your yard. They leave circular patches that are the color of straw, which grow larger for as long as the turf remains cool and wet. Inside the patches, the grass will appear matted, and you will notice a colorful fungal growth on top of them.
While pink and gray snow mold mostly appears the same, they have a key visible difference: gray snow mold causes hard growths to develop on the crowns and leaves of the grass it attacks. Looking out for these growths is essential, as pink snow mold is far more damaging than gray snow mold. Thus while you should always be concerned about a snow mold infestation, you should be especially worried if that infestation does not produce any hard growths.
Lush Lawn tailors our snow mold treatments to the severity of the infestation. For relatively minor snow mold problems, we can usually get rid of the fungus by gently raking the grass in your yard. This will eliminate it while causing as little damage as possible to the surrounding environment and leaving your turf free to keep growing.
For more severe snow mold problems, Lush Lawn begins raking on a larger scale, taking care to eliminate any trace of the mold from even the most far-flung parts of your lawn. The more of it we get rid of, the less chance that it will be able to spread again. If the mold is especially widespread and entrenched, we turn to fungicides. Designed to kill the fungus while causing minimal damage to the rest of your turf, these products are most effective if applied in October and November.
Besides eliminating current infestations, Lush Lawn can also make a snow mold issue less likely to arise in the first place. We do this by carefully measuring the amount of nitrogen fertilizer we apply, as excessive nitrogen makes mold more likely to grow. Likewise, we can cut the grass throughout the growing season and get rid of any dead blades, leaves, and other plant debris. Finally, we aerate the soil, preventing thatch from becoming too thick and harboring mold. All of these steps prevent mold infections from starting and help keep them under control when they do happen.
Snow mold tends to begin growing in the winter and becomes apparent at the start of the summer after the snow cover has fully melted away. It is most likely to arise if the first snow comes early in the year and covers the ground completely. When this happens, you should be especially vigilant about mold. You can reduce its chances of growing by spreading the snow out so that it melts more quickly.
For more information on snow mold prevention and management or to get a free estimate for your yard, contact Lush Lawn today.