For most Indianapolis-area homeowners winter is a time to take a break from the lawn. And for good reason; during the cold temperatures of winter our lawns go dormant. But, just because the grass isn’t growing doesn’t mean it isn’t susceptible to problems. In fact there is one thing that can harm your lawn during the winter: snow mold. Indianapolis lawns are particularly susceptible to snow mold when winter lingers on well into March…sort of like it might this year.
What is snow mold?
Snow mold is a fungal disease that typically appears in the early spring as the snow melts. There are two types of snow mold. Grey snow mold (Typhula blight) and pink snow mold (Microdochium patch).
What does it look like?
Snow mold damage looks like circular patches (3″-12″) of dead and matted grass. Depending on the severity of the outbreak, the circles can merge to form large areas. It is not uncommon to find both gray and pink snow mold together.
Pink snow mold is identified by the pink color of the web-like mycelium growing on the grass surface. While the grass is wet, the mycelium starts out white and resembles cobwebs, as it matures it turns its pink color. The mycelium quickly disappears as the grass dries.
Gray snow mold is similar to pink snow mold except that its mycelium remains whitish-gray. Gray snow mold is also distinguished by the presence of tiny black mycelial masses (sclerotia) on the grass blades and leaf sheaths of infected plants which pink snow mold does not produce.
How to avoid snow molds.
Both pink and grey snow molds are prone to develop when there is long periods of snow cover or even matted areas of leaves. The best source of prevention includes raking the lawn thoroughly in the fall and minimizing piles of snow on the lawn itself. So as you remove snow from driveways and sidewalks, consider where you pile the snow. Piles of snow thaw slower and tend to linger even as most of the snow melts from you lawn, creating ideal areas for snow mold to develop. Spreading the snow out evenly as you shovel will help prevent snow molds.
How to treat snow molds.
Once the snow has retreated for good, rake the affected areas to remove any leaves and to remove the molds from the grass. Grey snow mold typically kills the affected grass and will have to be reseeded. Pink snow molds will typically go away if raked out and treated with our lawn care program.
As always, call or write with questions.