Is All This Snow Killing Your Lawn?

Written by Lisa Motto, Biocare Garden Services Manager | 2/23/14   

Do you regularly mow your lawn? Do you remove all of the leaves from your lawn? Do you remove the snow build up on your lawn?

If you said no to either one of these questions, pay close attention to your lawn as the snow begins to melt. If your lawn looks like it has dead grey patches chances are you have a fungal disease called Snow Mold.


Snow Mold occurs mostly on tall grass that has been cool and wet for a long period of time but not frozen. Temperatures that linger below 40 degrees are ideal for the growth of Snow Mold. Excess snow will provide the moisture and lack of sun exposure the mold finds optimal. Shadier parts of your lawn may be more susceptible because the snow melt is slower. If you can, move the snow to sunnier patches on your lawn. Also, remember to cut the lawn to 2 or less on your final fall cut.

If you don't want to blow all of the leaves off of your lawn that's fine. I prefer to mulch my leaves with the lawn mower. The leaves provide natural nutrient rich compost to your soil.  If you use a blower or rake be sure to keep the leaves out of your flower beds. Allowing the leaves to stay on your lawn will increase your chances of Snow Mold exponentially. I highly recommend removal or mulching as a preventative measure.

High nitrogen fertilizers have also been found to be a mold accelerant. At Biosphere, we recommend using a slow release organic fertilizer. Organic fertilizers are not only better for the environment but are non- burning. The likelihood of ruining your lawn is much lower than with highly chemical products. If you have someone taking care of your lawn specify what low nitrogen fertilizer you want them to use in the fall.

Another good idea is to trim any tree branches that are close to the ground or that may be broken. Trimming the trees will allow for both better air circulation and to allow more light to shine onto your turf helping it to dry out more quickly. It will also stimulate growth at the apex of the tree. I would not recommend doing only this however, because it will only partly do the job.

Each year it is also a good idea to aerate your lawn. Aerating will help in the prevention of Snow Mold as well as many other benefits. It helps the lawn absorb water, encourages root growth, and helps with over seeding. The holes create protective crevasses for the seed to fall into. Aerating can be done in the fall or spring.

Sometimes, Snow Mold is mistaken for Salt damage. Salt damage occurs in areas nearest sidewalks, driveways and streets. Chemical companies may say there is no way to prevent salt damage but that is not the case. Organic ice melts are non-corrosive and ph neutral. They are not harmful to pets and they will not damage your lawn.. birdhouse

If you do have problems with Salt damage apply generous amounts of water to the area in the spring. This will flush the soil. You can put seed down any time but I recommend waiting until temperatures are in the 50's. I also recommend aerating before applying seed. If you do the whole lawn it will look much fuller and cohesive. Apply seed and then top dressing to prevent erosion. Water as directed.

In some cases, fungicide may need to be applied to help alleviate the fungus problem. There are many organic products on the market for this. However, in most cases the dead grass can be raked up and fresh soil and seed put down. We do recommend that you use extreme caution, as doing this throws dangerous mold spores into the air that you could potentially breath in. If you do choose to remove the affected areas on your own, we recommend that you wear a good mask with a respirator. If you suspect you may have Snow Mold or any other lawn and garden problems feel free to contact us for a free consultation and hang in there. Spring is just around the corner.


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