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What Is Snow Mold and How Do I Treat It?

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With the arrival of spring, many of the winter's slumbering plants come to life. When the snow starts to melt, many people are devastated to see their lawn in such bad shape. But don't worry, it's just snow mold grass. This fungus is unattractive yet manageable by all homeowners. Learn about snow mold and how to control it on your lawn.

What is snow mold? 

When the snow melts for the last time this spring, you may notice strange brown circles and matted spots on your lawn. The snow mold fungus is one of the most annoying turfgrass diseases. Snow mold in grass defies all sense. Isn't it too cold for fungi to grow under the snow?

Snow mold is a series of fungal diseases produced by pathogenic fungi that lie dormant in the soil until the conditions are right to invade neighboring grasses. Snow mold is a cold species that thrives in the conditions created by a thick snow cover. Snow's insulating characteristics allow it to remain unfrozen despite frigid air temperatures.

The snow then gently melts into the grass, creating a chilly, humid environment for the snow molds to thrive. After the snow melts, a snow mold in lawn develops fresh straw-colored patches, rings, or matted areas. Snow mold rarely kills turfgrass crowns, although it feeds heavily on leaves.

Snow Mold Removal

The first step in snow mold treatment is dethatching your lawn. After all, thatch helps keep moisture off the grass, so removing it early in the season is smart. After dethatching, keep an eye on the grass. It's only necessary to keep the grass healthy if fresh growth is unaffected by snow mold.

Overseeding is required for entirely dead grass. These grasses are resistant to some types of snow mold and may be an excellent solution if chronic snow mold is a problem in your area.

Once your lawn has recovered, it must be maintained to avoid snow mold throughout the winter.

  • Mow your grass until the growth stops, as a towering canopy encourages snow mold growth.
  • If you must feed your lawn, do so in the spring so it can use up the nitrogen. High nitrogen environments can cause snow mold problems.
  • Finally, dethatch your lawn late in the fall to remove any build-up before the snow returns.