What comes to mind when you think of mold? Warm, dark spaces or perhaps that loaf of bread your family didn’t get to fast enough? Certainly not snow, though. While it may be hard to believe there is a connection, snow mold is a fungal disease many homeowners will be faced with this season. Snow mold fungus may not occur each year, however following our record setting accumulation this past winter this turf disease will prove to be a widespread reality.
When the ground is not completely frozen, but snow cover still exists, spore growth begins. Even if temperatures dip back below freezing growth will continue. Found in two different varieties, Grey (Typhula) & Pink (Fusarium), this fungus will damage and potentially kill turf grass. While the Grey variety typically dies as temperatures exceed 45°, the Pink variety can continue to be active through the fall. Damaging byproducts of this process, mycelial masses for example, will still be present.
Symptoms first appear as the snow begins to melt as circular discolored patches. The patches are usually 3 – 10″ in diameter and turf contained therein appears matted. If the conditions allow, these patches will only continue to grow. Hard structures such as fungal fruiting bodies (mushroom) and sclerotia will develop on the infected areas, with visible grey or pink fungal growth along the margins or entirety in particularly severe cases. Those who experience allergies in cold and wet environments may notice a sensitivity; Reduce moisture and avoid exposure where possible until the fungus can be eradicated.
Lawn recovery begins with drying and dethatching. Throughout the winter, snow gets piled higher and higher. When the warm spring sun finally kisses your lawn some of these piles can take quite a while to melt; Speed up the process by breaking up and spreading the remaining snow in order to get the turn to dry out. As part of the Spring Clean-Up services offered by LCM PLUS we use mechanical equipment to dethatch lawn areas. This means the moist layer of growth between the grass blades and soil is loosened allowing fresh air to circulate. Additionally, proper fertilization will help the turf outgrow the disease.
There are steps you can take in the autumn to prevent, or at least minimize, snow mold. Most importantly is to have a Fall Clean-Up performed in which all debris is removed – particularly dead leaves which trap moisture under snow cover. Regular lawn maintenance is imperative until growth stops; Any turf areas higher than 2″ promote fungus. A topdressing of compost could be considered to introduce anti-fungi microbes. In particularly extreme cases, a fungicide can be applied to damaged & susceptible turf just prior to the first snow fall.
While a healthy landscape can usually defend itself from common ailments, this winter has been incredibly trying on the natural defenses of a lawn, even the hardy varieties of Kentucky Bluegrass & Fescue turfs. Let’s put the drab of winter behind us: Contact LCM PLUS and we will help you develop and implement a spring-time strategy to achieve healthy landscape green-up quickly!