FRANKLIN, Pa. — As the snow recedes, many lawns are showing the scars of a tough winter … gray and pink patches, and fuzzy mold-like growth.
These are symptoms and signs of a lawn disease called snow mold says Jeffrey T. Fowler, turfgrass educator, Penn State Cooperative Extension in Venango County.
Snow mold is a fungal disease that occurs during the winter and/or late spring under snow cover.
Typically, there are two snow mold diseases that affect lawns in Pennsylvania: gray snow mold and pink snow mold.
Snow mold is commonly found in those turf areas of greatest snow accumulation, such as along driveways and sidewalks, or over the brink of a hill where snow drifts may have accumulated.
The most notable symptoms are gray or pink crusted areas of grass in which blades are dead, bleached and matted together. These matted areas range from several inches to several feet across.
Some lawns have more snow mold than others and this may be due to several factors, including the duration of snow cover (shaded lawn areas usually have more disease than open, sunny areas); the type of grass in the lawn (some species and cultivars of lawn grasses are more susceptible to snow mold than others); and management (lush, over-fertilized lawns in poorly-drained and compacted soils tend to show more damage than well-managed lawns and soils).
Once the snow melts and the causal fungus is exposed to sunlight, the disease usually does not progress further. Thus, there is no reason for costly treatments of fungicides. In most instances, the turf will recover when your grass starts to green-up later in the spring.
For particularly hard hit areas, some overseeding may be required, but make sure you give the grass a chance to recover before rushing into a major renovation job.
To improve the appearance of the lawn, you may want to rake the affected areas and break-up the crusted, matted leaves. Although this practice won’t hasten recovery very much, it should reduce the patchiness of the lawn.
If you didn’t fertilize last fall, a light application of a nitrogen-containing fertilizer will help with recovery.
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