First Big Snow, What You Should Know!

As winter finally kicks into high gear, this is the time to cognizant of how to care for your lawn during the winter snows. Snow can act as an insulation for your new grass seedlings. It will protect it and once it starts melt slowly will also help in the germination process for the spring. A big fear for people is the snow mold that can occur on lawns. One of the primary fall lawn care practices that homeowners need to be careful of is over-fertilizing as applying too much fertilizer can lead to the snow mold, which really can be a lawn’s worst nightmare.

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This fungal disease transpires in the early spring as the snow melts and appears in two ways as pink or gray, circular patches of dead and matted grass. When it comes to fertilization, less is more. Fertilizer overuse is undetectable, and once turf grass goes dormant, too much fertilization can cause it to absorb too many nutrients and grow when it doesn’t want to. It can affect all grass but Kentucky Blue Grass and Fescue seem to be the least likely to be affected by this disease.

Gray Snow Mold:

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Gray snow mold (Typhula spp. or Typhula blight) is the less damaging form of snow mold. While its damage may appear widespread, it typically does little damage to the grass itself, only to the blades. Unlike most plant pathogens, it is able to survive throughout hot summer months as sclerotia under the ground or in plant debris. Typhula blight is commonly found in United States in the Great Lakes region and anywhere with cold winter temperatures and persistent snow fall.

Pink Snow Mold:

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Pink snow mold (Microdochium nivale or Fusarium patch) is the more severe form of snow mold, and can destroy the roots and crowns of grass, causing more damage than gray snow mold. Like gray snow mold, it is able to survive the summer months in decayed plant debris as spores or mycelium.

Prevention:

As snow mold remains dormant during summer months when other forms of disease fungi are most active, steps to prevent snow mold infestations must be taken near the end of the summer months. While active lawn care such as regular mowing and raking of leaves is typically sufficient to prevent an infestation, the use of chemicals may sometimes be required. Fungicides, which should typically be applied immediately prior to the first large snowfall in an area, can be used if typical cultural methods do not work.

You should avoid walking in newly seeded areas when the snow is packed as this can cause damage to the new seedling grass.

Here is a helpful video on do’s and don’ts of winter:

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