Posts Tagged ‘snow mold’

Snow Mold Prevention

Published by mrgrass on November 15th, 2013 - in Cultural Practices, Turf Disease
Typical matted appearance of snow mold in a lawn.

Typical matted appearance of snow mold in a lawn.

Gray and pink snow molds are the two most widely known snow mold diseases in our geographic region.  Gray and pink snow mold can become established under moist, wet weather common in the late winter or early spring.  Most snow molds become visible in March and can grow well into April manifesting themselves as discolored patches ranging from 1-2 feet to mere inches in diameter.  These patches can take on the appearance of cotton candy with colors ranging from gray, to pink, to white depending upon the time of day and type.  Pink snow mold can cause moderate damage, especially in new lawns under ideal wet weather conditions.  Gray snow mold requires snow to develop properly while pink can manifest itself without snow cover and in wide range of temperatures ranging from freezing up to nearly sixty.  Pink snow mold’s ability to develop without snow and under such a wide range of temperatures means it is a very common disease.  Damage can occur from either snow mold disease, especially new lawns or those prone to staying wet.  The actual snow mold damage results from the plants inability to recover quickly enough and appears as thinning within the infected patches.
Regular raking and mowing are effective practices to reduce snow mold.  However, do not be tempted to cease mowing in October; a final cut should be done in November as the grass enters dormancy.  Not allowing leaf litter to accumulate or remain on the lawn as winter approaches is a great way to help minimize snow mold problems.  Cut your lawn a little shorter in November, as low as 1.5 inches to minimize matted grass and leaves without scalping the lawn on uneven surfaces.
Aerating will help reduce compaction and maintaining a slightly acidic soil pH will also help reduce pink snow mold.  Minimizing the amount of highly soluble nitrogen is also an important factor as succulent leaf blades are more susceptible as fall becomes winter.  Use of a slow release fertilizer while applying lower rates of nitrogen is a great solution if you have experienced snow mold problems in the past.
Reducing snow along your driveway, walkways, or minimizing large piles will help minimize gray snow mold at your home.  Fungicides should only be used as a last resort in a lawn but can offer some protection with proper timing (late fall and or early spring).  Snow mold sprays can be done in November or December in our market area. Creating a healthy lawn with a diverse turf grass population and proper raking and mowing practices is your best asset toward snow mold prevention.  If you do experience visible snow mold next spring, be sure to have it examined as treatment may be required by your locally certified and licensed lawn care professional.


Lawn Diseases

Published by mrgrass on June 11th, 2013 - in Turf Disease

Lawn diseases can be a very confusing subject because the average homeowner would have a hard time telling the difference between a lawn disease, stress, or insect activity.  Spring diseases range from snow mold coming out of winter, to leaf spot, dollar spot, and red thread.  Summer diseases can range from damping off disease, patch disease, brown patch, and rust.  Fall diseases mirror spring without snow mold.

Lawn diseases 

Most grass diseases can be traced back to a fungus, adequate moisture/temperature (climate), and the susceptible host plant.  Like any disease triangle, all three pieces listed above must occur to produce what you visually see as a problem.  Most diseases are fungal in nature and as such, most adore moisture – lots of it!  As such, many lawn diseases can be attributed to excessive irrigation in a manicured, suburban lawn.  Too much kindness can lead to all kinds of disease issues in your lawn when it comes to watering.  Too much water fills up valuable air pockets in the soil that leads to shallow roots and predisposes your lawn to all kinds of health issues.  Watering late in the day leaves moisture and water on the surface of the leaf blade, on the soil, and raises humidity low to the ground.  Any of these facts can cause a disease outbreak in mere hours with the right temperature and host; your lawn!  Fungal diseases can be aesthetic like red thread and not really cause much harm.  Or, fungal diseases can progress all the way to summer brown patch with the possibility of not only losing lawn  density overnight but having dead patches before that first cup of coffee is finished the next morning! 

As a homeowner, you have the largest control on preventing or contributing to fungal diseases in your lawn. Mowing a lawn when wet can spread diseases from lawn to lawn if you have a mowing company out each week.  Over-watering can cause disease and root problems as previously mentioned.  Watering in the morning or day can minimize moisture presence overnight, reducing the likelihood of a fungal outbreak.  While most diseases are fungal in nature, some are bacterial and some are found in the soil itself which become active during the ideal weather conditions.  Extended rainy periods can induce leaf spot disease and turf thinning if followed by hot sunny weather.  Stress on a lawn such as mowing a sod/blue grass lawn too short can induce symptoms such as pitting or scarring with patch disease.  Some diseases are more likely under high fertilizer use and some under low.  Lawn diseases are complicated and difficult to diagnosis without real field experience.  Treatment and prevention of lawn diseases run hand-in-hand and are just more reasons to have a professional lawn care company helping you each month throughout the growing season.  When it comes to diagnosing and treating lawn diseases, there is no substitute for real field experience and education, everything you get with Chippers’ turf division. 


Spring lawn care issues

As the snow recedes after our snowy winter, snow mold and mice damage may appear on your lawn as common spring lawn care issues.  Snow mold is a common turf disease and can range from visually unappealing to damaging with actual turf loss.  Snow mold can appear on the surface of your lawn even with no snow in some circumstances.  You will either see a pink or gray color, especially in the morning or with cool, moist conditions in March or April.  Once dry, the affected grass becomes matted, kind of like pink eye, all crusty.  I took the picture below of pink snow mold yesterday.  Another area was matted and dry, requiring a light raking to break up the old matted leaf blades so air and sunlight can hit the soil and speed up recovery.  Lawns with a severe case of snow mold should not receive an early crabgrass barrier.  Applying a crabgrass barrier with a severe case of snow mold will place unnecessary stress on your already weakened lawn, often promoting less recovery and/or thinning.  Your best option is to lightly rake a lawn with severe snow mold which will promote new growth.  This can be done in conjunction with a natural or organic fertilizer treatment followed up with crabgrass suppression in May.


snow mold on lawn in spring


Mice damage is another spring issue and is typical if the lawn is left too long going into winter.  Mice will feed on the surface leaves under the snow causing surface tunnels, as illustrated in the picture below.  Some turf damage may result if the base of the lawn is eaten, down at the crown level.  As the soil warms and your lawn starts to green, only then will you know if recovery is possible.  A simple tip to help reduce mouse damage is to mow your lawn short for the final cut of the season, down to 1-1.5”.  Be sure to mow your lawn if it is long in April to 2” and/or rake out the damaged areas to help promote recovery while applying an organic or natural fertilizer.


mice damage on lawn in the spring


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