Ever go out in the spring as soon as the snow melts off to find a whitish, webby appearance to your lawn? Well, the most likely culprit is a fungal disease called appropriately, snow mold.

Also as the name implies, this turfgrass disease, oddly enough, is encouraged by having the lawn covered by snow for long periods over the winter. The snow holds the moisture and, to a certain extent, warmer temperatures against the grass. This particular fungus can grow at low temperatures and thrives under these conditions. Thus, snow mold will not show up after a winter with light snowfall.

Fortunately, most instances of snow mold are not a serious threat to the lawn. Usually, all you need to do is rake away the moldy grass and it will recover nicely. If your lawn is in poor condition, under-fertilized, thin and, perhaps, has compacted soils, some grass may die from a heavy infestation of snow mold,

As with most fungal diseases, moisture is the key to this disease. The longer the plant leaves are wet, the higher the possibility of developing this disease. So, one way of helping to prevent or minimize this problem is to help the grass to dry more quickly. An often recommended cultural technique is to be sure to mow the grass a little shorter during the final mowing of the year. Of course, it is always tough to determine exactly when that last mowing will be but it is good to drop the mowing height that one time of the year before the snow flies.

Normally, when dealing with fungal diseases of plants, the object is to apply a fungicide as a preventative. However, this disease is a tough one to try to treat in that manner. Once you discover the symptoms of the disease, it is already too late to treat. So, fungicides are generally not recommended.

So, the best approach is to just keep on doing those things that normally keep a lawn nice and healthy i.e. proper fertilization, thatch control, irrigation, mowing height, etc. An otherwise healthy lawn should pull through an attack of snow mold just fine. Simply rake away the gray colored stuff from the green grass.

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

 

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