Every spring, a blotch upon the beauty of newly growing lawns appears -- snow mold. These gray to slightly pink-ish blotches are revealed once the snow melts and the tender new grass shoots begin to emerge. The good news is that snow mold is only cosmetic, so it won't kill your lawn permanently. The bad news is that it is still unattractive and recovery takes time. The following guide can help you avoid snow mold, or at least treat it as quickly as possible if it does appear.
What is snow mold?
Snow mold is a type of cold weather fungus that grows on plant matter. It most commonly occurs when a heavy snow falls when the grass is still green and not fully dormant. It can happen in the fall if snows come early, but it more commonly happens in spring when a late-season cold snap causes wet snow to fall after a series of warm days have thawed out the ground and prodded the grass to come out of dormancy.
Fall prevention is far easier than spring prevention. To cut down on the chances of snow mold, you need to make sure there is not a lot of plant matter that can become a matted mess beneath heavy snow. Dethatching the lawn in late summer or early fall will remove the excess dead material. It's also important that leaves are promptly raked up and not left to cover the lawn all winter. As for the living grass, gradually lower your lawn mower blade as winter approaches, so that the final height of the grass is only 1.5 to 2 inches tall. Also, pay close attention to the fall weather reports. If snow is predicted and your lawn is still actively growing, try to mow it low before the snow arrives.
You have fewer options in spring since warmer temperatures mean the grass can grow quickly and then be trapped beneath late-season snow. The best option is to stay off the lawn until after the snow melts. Since spring snows tend to be heavy and wet, they can mat down grass easily. Walking on the snow just makes matters worse. The good news is that the snow will likely melt quickly.
If snow mold does occur, there are some options to help the grass come back quickly. Begin by raking up the matted, damaged grass blades so that you can mow over them and remove the dead tips. Follow this up with a spring fertilizer treatment to encourage new growth. After a few mowings, most of the dead tips should be gone. If the lawn seems thin where the snow mold occurred, over-seeding can help thicken it back up.
For more help, contact a landscape designer in your area.