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Grasses most commonly affected: Most grasses, including annual bluegrass, Kentucky bluegrass, and bentgrass. Snow mold is dormant during the warmer months, so it is best to take preventative steps at the end of summer.
Healthy lawn maintenance, including routine mowing, leaf raking, and a proper fertilization program, will keep you one step ahead of this disease. To control snow mold on your lawn, contact Cardinal Lawns today. We provide thorough lawn disease control and unparalleled expertise to help your property look its best.
Table Of Contents
- Key Takeaways
- What Causes Snow Mold?
- Signs of Snow Mold
- How to Treat Snow Mold
- How to Prevent Snow Mold
- The Prevention and Treatment of Snow Mold on Grass
- What Are the Best Ways to Prevent and Get Rid of Snow Mold?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Should I rake up leaves in the fall to help prevent snow mold?
- How short should I cut my grass before winter to avoid snow mold?
- Is it okay to pile snow on areas of my lawn when shoveling sidewalks and driveways?
- Are some types of grass more resistant to snow mold than others?
- When is the best time to apply a fungicide to prevent snow mold?
- Keep your lawn healthy through regular maintenance, such as mowing, raking leaves, and fertilizing.
- Rake your lawn in the spring to loosen matted grass and allow for drying.
- Reseed any bare spots in early spring before winter.
- Improve drainage to avoid saturated soil and consider using a slow-release fall fertilizer to strengthen grass before winter.
What Causes Snow Mold?
Snow mold is caused by spores in the soil that become active when temperatures are between 32-45°F, right before the ground freezes. The prolonged snow cover and excessive moisture before the ground freezes create prime conditions for snow mold.
The fungal spores lurk in the soil and spread through circular patches across your lawn once snow melts. While unsightly, snow mold rarely kills the grass entirely. Raking to dry the soil and reseeding dead patches after snow melt allows for regrowth.
With proper fall preparation like dethatching, mowing short before snow, and early fertilization, you can prevent snow mold from taking over your lawn. Timely spring maintenance helps your lawn recover quickly once the snow mold has run its course.
Signs of Snow Mold
You’ll notice white-gray or reddish patches in your lawn when the snow melts. For example, last spring my neighbor had multiple two-foot wide gray circles throughout his bentgrass after the snow melted.
The affected areas will have a grayish-white appearance or a whitish-pink coloration.
You may see circular bare patches ranging from a few inches to several feet wide.
Infected grass blades will appear discolored and straw-like.
After the snow melts, keep an eye out for these telltale signs of snow mold damage so you can take action to reseed or repair affected areas as soon as the ground dries out. Acting quickly can help your lawn recover faster once the temperatures warm back up.
How to Treat Snow Mold
You’ll want to take action as soon as the snow melts to treat areas affected by snow mold. First, rake the patchy areas to help dry out the soil and loosen any matted grass blades. Next, after the ground has dried, reseed any dead spots to restore your lawn’s health.
And once spring arrives, continue raking those damaged patches to further dry the turf and prepare for reseeding bare areas as early in the season as weather allows. With some timely care when the snow clears, you can get your lawn back in top shape after a long winter.
Rake to Dry Soil
Once the snow melts, raking the affected patches loosens matted grass and helps dry the soil beneath. Rake gently to avoid tearing the weakened turf. This allows air circulation, faster drying, and recovery.
Re-seed Dead Patches After Soil Dries
After the ground dries up, it’s time to reseed those dead spots in your yard so you can get your grass growing again.
- Rake up dead grass and debris
- Apply starter fertilizer
- Spread grass seed
- Cover with a thin layer of soil
Reseeding bare patches helps thicken your lawn. But remember: fungicide in the fall prevents snow mold damage. Treating affected areas now brings back healthy grass so pink mold won’t spread.
Rake Affected Areas in Spring to Loosen Matted Grass and Aid Drying
Come springtime, gently comb through snow mold patches with a rake to loosen matted grass blades and allow air circulation for faster drying. Proper spring lawn care protects turf health after snow mold injury, enabling vigorous grass regrowth once soil temperatures warm.
Repair and Reseed Dead Areas as Soon as Weather Permits
Restore any dead patches in your turf as early in spring as the weather allows. Once the soil dries, rake and reseed affected areas with hardy cool-season grass so that new grass grows before the next winter hits.
Mow the new grass high and often while it establishes before the summer heat arrives.
How to Prevent Snow Mold
Dethatch your lawn 2-3 times per year, mow your grass shorter before the first snowfall, and avoid fertilizing within 6 weeks of snow. These cultural practices promote drying of your turf prior to prolonged snow cover, which helps reduce the likelihood of disease.
Applying fungicides prior to snow and promptly removing leaves as well as excess snow once they fall can also help prevent the development of damaging snow molds.
Fall Mowing and Bagging Clippings
You should mow your lawn short and bag the clippings in the fall, like a barber sweeping up hair after a trim, to help prevent snow mold. Removing leaves reduces moisture and fungal food. Exposing crowns dries the soil prior to snow.
Apply Fungicide Before Snow
Treat your turf with fungicides before the first snowfall to help prevent snow mold from developing. Applying a preventative fungicide prior to snowfall helps coat grass blades. The chemical protects against fungal diseases like snow mold.
Use products containing active ingredients effective on snow mold fungi. Follow all label instructions carefully when applying fungicides. Time the application for early to mid-fall before the ground freezes. Consider a follow-up application if heavy snows linger into spring.
Dethatch 2-3 Times Yearly
Dethatching those thatched lawn layers two or three times a year will let air and moisture penetrate to help curb snow mold issues. Rake each fall before winter snows, and then twice more when growth resumes. This exposes grass crowns, limiting fungal growth beneath wet snow cover.
Installing proper drainage helps the lawn thrive through winter’s test. Improve lawn drainage before winter. Carry excess water away from the lawn’s surface and subsoil. Keep the grass root zone from staying saturated after snowmelt.
Promote proper turfgrass health and growth. Guard against pink and gray snow mold development.
Avoid Fertilizing Within 6 Weeks of Snow
Don’t feed the grass near wintertime to help avoid those pesky circular spots next spring.
- Stop fertilizing 6 weeks before the typical first frost.
- Fertilizer boosts foliage growth, leaving more to rot.
- Excess nitrogen makes grass vulnerable.
- Healthy lawns need less fertilizer.
Avoiding late-season feeds keeps lawns safer when snows accumulate. Timing matters.
Remove Excess Snow and Leaves
You’ll want to scoop up that excess snow and leaf cover before it smothers the grass. Deep snow piles and a heavy blanket of melting snow kill the grass underneath. Give unaffected grass some room.
Mow Shorter Before Snow
Mowing your grass shorter before the first snowfall helps minimize snow mold damage come spring. Research shows bentgrass cut to 0.5 inches before winter suffers 50% less pink snow mold infection than grass left at 1 inch.
A dry lawn aids fragile grass plants. The roots of grass plants need inch-thick protection in early spring.
Use Slow-release Fertilizer
Fall fertilizing with slow-release helps stop the fungus before it starts. Snow mold damage appears less where slow-release feeds the grass through winter snows.
Early Fall Fertilization
Spread some slow-release fertilizer over your lawn in early autumn to strengthen the grass before winter arrives. Feed the lawn 6 weeks before the first frost. This boosts grass roots and crowns before the snow mold season.
Avoid Piling Snow on Lawn When Shoveling
When shoveling out your driveway, be mindful not to pile the snow onto your grass, my friend.
- Avoid shoveling snow onto thin areas.
- Pile snow in low spots.
- Keep snow off new or reseeded areas.
- Dump excess in non-lawn areas.
- Prevent snow mold signs like whitish circles.
Preventing snow mold starts with smart snow removal. Protect your turf by piling snow thoughtfully when shoveling.
The Prevention and Treatment of Snow Mold on Grass
You’ll want to dethatch your lawn a couple of times a year to help avoid those pesky pink and gray spots from developing come springtime. When cooler temperatures arrive, the fungi that cause snow mold start multiplying in the soil.
Applying a fungicide treatment before the first snow can prevent the fungus from taking hold in your turfgrass. Come spring, rake up dead patches to allow proper air circulation and sunlight to reach the soil.
This helps dry out any remaining fungus. Consider reseeding bare areas once the ground temperature reaches 50 degrees to fill in those spots. With some timely prevention and prompt spring cleanup, you can beat the fungus and keep your lawn healthy.
What Are the Best Ways to Prevent and Get Rid of Snow Mold?
When it comes to snow mold, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Good fall lawn care practices like dethatching, proper mowing, and early fertilization can help minimize snow mold damage. Also, avoid piling snow directly on the lawn when shoveling and remove excessive snow buildup.
If snow mold damage occurs, rake affected areas to dry the soil and reseed bare patches once the ground thaws. Fungicide application is least effective after snowmelt, so focus on cultural practices that promote recovery.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
Fall is the time to armor up your turf against winter’s fungal siege, by mulching leaves into your lawn before Jack Frost stakes his claim. A preventative fungicide application in fall helps deny snow mold a foothold. Raking up leaves deprives snow mold spores of a comfy overwintering home.
Mowing shorter fortifies your turfgrass to withstand winter’s chill and thaw cycles. Feeding your lawn stimulates root growth to boost its defenses before the ground freezes.
Mow lower before snow blankets the ground to discourage snow mold’s pesky presence. Rake up fallen leaves and debris to prevent snow from insulating fungus spores. Improve drainage and aerate compacted soils so melting snow dries rapidly.
Snow Piles and Mountains
Don’t dump snow piles on the garden bed.
- Remove excess snow after storms.
- Avoid piling snow near plants.
- Shovel carefully around beds.
- Keep piles away from lawn edges.
Snow mold thrives on deep piles of snow. Significant snowfall means increased wintertime moisture.
You’ll see your lawn perk back up once the snow is gone and the soil dries out. Cool-season grasses recover when snow mold signs fade as warmer temperatures arrive.
If You Must . . . We Can Spray
Although fungicides applied after snowmelt are ineffective, you can spray a preventative fungicide before the first snow if snow mold has been a persistent problem. Target problem areas where snow piles up or leaves accumulate. Carefully read and follow label directions when applying any pesticide.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Should I rake up leaves in the fall to help prevent snow mold?
Yes, raking and removing fallen leaves in autumn is an important way to help prevent snow mold. Leaves that cover grass can cause excessive moisture and snow cover. Rake thoroughly and mulch leaves back into the turf or remove them.
This allows better airflow and light penetration to help dry saturated soils before they freeze.
How short should I cut my grass before winter to avoid snow mold?
Cut your grass one-third shorter than normal before the first hard frost. This keeps grass blades from matting and trapping moisture against the crown during winter snows. Thatch buildup also contributes to matting, so dethatch and aerate in early fall too.
Is it okay to pile snow on areas of my lawn when shoveling sidewalks and driveways?
To avoid snow mold, don’t pile shoveled snow onto your lawn. The excessive moisture trapped beneath piles promotes fungal growth. Instead, spread snow thinly across lawn areas or dump it in flower beds. This allows melting snow to drain rather than soak the crowns.
Are some types of grass more resistant to snow mold than others?
Some grasses are more resistant to snow mold than others. Fine fescue tolerates it better than Kentucky bluegrass or bentgrass. If you have susceptible grasses, take preventive measures like fall fertilization and mowing to reduce disease pressure before it establishes.
When is the best time to apply a fungicide to prevent snow mold?
Apply a fungicide in mid to late fall, before the first snowfall. Target applications in October or November, when soil temperatures drop to 55-60°F. Use another application in early winter if snow cover is light or intermittent. This proactive approach prevents spores from developing into active snow mold fungi.
You’ve got this. Take heart in knowing an ounce of prevention truly is worth a pound of cure when it comes to snow mold. Keep your lawn healthy going into winter with smart mowing and fertilization practices.
And don’t panic if you see spots next spring – with a little raking and reseeding, your lawn will bounce back in no time. Stay on top of prevention and treatment, and you’ll keep snow mold from getting the best of your lawn.